Scent-memory can transport me to a time and place in history at the speed of inhale.
- The smell of July's heat on a pine needle blanket…to years of Summer camp.
- Mothballs…to my grandmother's cedar closet.
- Estee Lauder Youth Dew perfume…to high school (that one even has me shaking my head!).
- Shrimp boiling…to the time my mom tried to convince me I'd like it when I was 8 (it took me 10 years to discover she was right).
- Mentholatum…to my father, every time I was sick as a child.
I'm sure there are more, but those come easily to mind.
And then there's Jergens Lotion.
Walking through Walmart's health and beauty aisle the other day, I spotted a row of bottles. I paused long enough to lift one from the shelf, open the lid, and inhale.
Breathe in…the same cherry-almond scent from a lifetime ago…breathe out…sitting on our cool black and white pentagon-shaped tiled bathroom floor, lotioning up my legs and arms and everywhere in between. It was my grandmother's house, actually, and she always had a few bottles of Jergens strategically placed. Her car. The linen closet. Her nightstand.
And in that moment my thoughts leapt from Jergens lotion to wintergreen Isopropyl alcohol after-bath back rubs by my grandmother, to her ambrosial flower garden, an intoxicating bouquet of gardenia and rose and lily of the valley, to her make-up: a compact and lipstick, and in those days, their scent distinct, waxy yet unspectacular, in sharp contrast to today's protocol of aromatic elixer in a tube.
All that, in 30 seconds while snorting a bottle of lotion at Walmart.
Though it doesn't look like the teardrop-shape-with-black-lid of my childhood, it smells the same; when all is said and done, that's the only thing that matters, anyway, don't you agree?
Which got me thinking…I'm a fan of Bath and Body Works. Though I have my favorite scent (Sun-Ripened Raspberry anyone?), I like many of them. But, 35 years from now, will anyone be prompted to write a slice of nostalgia based on scent memory? Will Sun-Ripened Raspberry still be in existence? Will Bath and Body Works??
I bought that bottle of Jergens; what I brought home was delightfully more than three ounces of lotion.
Your turn: What strong scent-memories link to your childhood?
Got it! Right away I thought of Pond’s Cold Cream and my aunt Alice. She used it all the time, even on her hands, and always smelled delicious.
Loved this post, Robin!
moth balls definitely remind me of my mom’s cedar chest. but my strongest one has been palmolive dishwashing liquid. i actually blogged about it a couple of years ago. http://amykiane.typepad.com/ordinarily_extraordinary/2007/04/so_about_the_di.html
I had this exact experience…also at WalMart! Just smelling the Jergen’s sent me right on back to childhood. 🙂
Gosh, so many, but White Shoulders and my mama. It was her signature scent and she wore nothing else. She passed away years ago, but if I smelled it right now I’d swear she was here.
My grandma had Jergens all over her house too!
Love’s Baby Soft was my scent and Chanel No. 5 was my mom’s! One sniff and it takes me back!
This is so crazy, that’s the lotion my mom always used. A few years ago I smelled it in Walmart and had that same flashback feeling. And I bought some too!
Ahhh! Pond’s Cold Cream…I remember that!
I’m afraid this post will get lost in all the Blog Hop shenanigans, which I hate…I loved writing it, so I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 (and got it!).
Oooo, sounds like the makings of a great post (clicking now to read later 🙂 ).
My mother-in-law’s scent is “Obsession”…I can’t smell that without thinking of her. I LOVE that fragrance, but my husband told me I can’t wear it because his mom does, lol.
OOOooo! Love’s Baby Soft! Yes! I LOVED it back in the day!! (Thanks for reminding me!) Chanel No. 5 is a classic. 🙂
It’s funny, I know I’ve passed by that row a thousand times, why it hit me to stop and smell it the other day is beyond me. But, yeah, a scent takes your “there” like it was current, not past!
I have my Grandmother Bible in a baggie to preserve the smell. I sparingly take a sniff when I really need it.
Baby powder! My favourite Aunt used to powder herself (and me) after after bath. The small bathroom would be a cloud of powder and it’s a wonder we weren’t sneezing and coughing. What a wonderful woman she was! Thanks for the memories!
My mom used to wear a perfume that I can’t spell..and not sure what “brand” it was unless it was Este Lauder..Lu Air De Temps..that is what it was called..she had the powder and perfume. I have not smelled it in YEARS. Old Spice is my daddy’s scent and actually my husband uses it too. I love the Jergans lotion smell too. My grandaddy’s car had a certain smell too..it was something in the leather seats I think. But when I get a whiff of that I always think of him, who died when I was 12.
Back to the Jergans and the Old Spice..I make homemade soap and those are two that I make. I have a Cherry Almond that smells just like Jergans, LOVE IT.. and the Old Spice is identical!
Every Christmas, every Christmas I find in my stocking from my parents a bottle of Jergens lotion. In fact, if I run out of Jergens the end of November or the beginning of December, I won’t replenish my stock. It’s one of my most anticipated gifts.
You see, every year at Christmas, my mom received a bottle of Jergens from her parents in her stocking. My dad carries on the tradition for her.
I’ve let my husband know that someday, he’ll be responsible for this.
It’s funny–my shelf is stocked with yummy-smelling lotions, gifts from friends. I pass them all over for my Jergens.
Your comment just made my heart swell three times. And no, I'm not the Grinch. xo
Coconut for me! Every time I smell coconut I think of Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil and family trips to the lake years ago. To this day I don’t know if it’s really the coconut in food that I love or the memories that the scent brings to me.
Coconut (flavoring and not real coconut, though) for me, too! It reminds me of the sunscreen Mom used to slather on my siblings and I before we went swimming. To this day, I don’t like to drink coconut-flavored beverages because they smell like sunscreen and who’d want to drink that?
Mentholatum – my maternal grandmother – a little dab every night below her nose and on her lips. A habit passed down…
Oil of Olay – paternal grandmother.
Antique stores – the smell of old – the jumbled up ones with treasures.
Panama Jack or Hawaiian Tropic – the oil…before we cared about SPF.
My late sister used Trushay lotion —
I always associated that smell with her. I don’t even know if it is available anymore
My mom used this lotion , I think my mom has to liked this lotion small that’s why thy has to used it.