February 23, 2005

Smells of Childhood

Not long ago, someone at work gave me a little container of green Play-Doh. I'd completely forgotten what the stuff feels like, squeezing it in a fist so that it escapes through your knuckles or shaping it into a ball. What I hadn't forgotten was the smell. I don't know if its a good or bad smell but it really doesn't matter. Like the smell of my grandparent's house, it sucked me back into childhood. Its amazing how many memories are driven or rediscovered by a simple smell or sound or taste. Maybe that's why I like music so much, the power that it has to transport me to a different place and time.

Music and Play-Doh. The secret to time travel has nothing to do with scientists in white lab coats, circuit boards and physics. Its in your heads, my friends. The secret might be a chord progression, the smell of jasmine in the summer or the taste of your mom's cooking. But the secret is in there.

Posted by Chris at February 23, 2005 8:13 AM

music works best for me i've realized. it fascinates me that i'll sometimes hear a song from the 70s, a song I didn't even remember or knew, and snippets of my childhood will come flooding back. Those are good moments.

Posted by: patricia at February 23, 2005 8:35 AM

Completely and totally... Just like the smell of Pert shampoo will send me flying out to the one and only place I ever used it (don't know why): a base camp in the Rocky Mountains in Montana, summer, 1981... And music from the 70's brings me back to my childhood and music from the 80's sets me right smack down in my high school days (heaven help me).

Posted by: Keri at February 23, 2005 9:11 AM

play-doh, peanut butter and english leather... good times, good times...

Posted by: monique at February 23, 2005 9:24 AM

now eating the play-doh, THAT brings back the memories :)

Posted by: stinkerbell at February 23, 2005 9:31 AM

Oh! The smells! There's a perfume that just makes me go into a sort of trance of some past moments... in a good way but I still try to avoid it. But on the same note, my brain associated the smell of lilies to death :( Lilies were placed at quite a few funerals I attended.

Posted by: Luna at February 23, 2005 9:35 AM

i've got koosh balls on my desk ... those are fun. but they don't really smell.


but i do. ewww.

Posted by: tj at February 23, 2005 9:49 AM

Indeed. The smell of a certain spaghetti sauce recipe reminds me of my grandmother's house. I bought a jar of some random sauce at the store the other day and it was the exact same smell. Gotta buy some more. :)

Posted by: Jon in Michigan at February 23, 2005 9:55 AM

the ozone smell of the printer always reminds me of playdoh!

Did you guys have monster mess? it's the blue gack that is made from corn meal & glue with blue food colouring. it hardens when you hit it or grab it but goes liquid when you let it go. it's strange stuff, smells funny but is fun.

Posted by: angel at February 23, 2005 9:57 AM

I think it is really cool that this holds true for most, if not all of us.

People laugh at me for the 80s hair band CDs that I have. lol. But it puts me in a really good place. My teen years were FUN...and being a responsible adult really blows sometimes. So to counter that, I pop in a really bad, cheesy CD, and I am back in that place...if even just for a little while..

The smell of my grandparents house....sigh.

*slinks off to a corner to mourn the passing of her childhood*

Posted by: jen at February 23, 2005 10:03 AM

Incense, moth-balls, music (mostly 80's), & Merl Normal make up.

Posted by: Jade at February 23, 2005 10:27 AM

playdoh was the bomb!! I didn't think of it as a kid, but wouldn't mixing the fun of playdoh and baking in an easy-bake oven be, like, REALLY fun?

Posted by: Dawn (webmiztris) at February 23, 2005 10:34 AM

I know what you mean. I love the whole smell/sound/memory thing. It happens a lot when I hear an old song from my youth; I feel instantly transported to a specific place and time. It's so cool how that happens.

Posted by: Milly at February 23, 2005 10:35 AM

i love that playdoh smell....except years ago i liked my hand after playing w/it and it was salty...so now when i think of playdoh, i taste salt....

Posted by: miss macy at February 23, 2005 10:46 AM

Music. Pretty much all the time will trigger a certain memory. In fact just yesterday my almost 12 year old daughter was listening to some music on her radio, I could vaguely hear it from the living room, so I yelled out to her, Hey whatcha listening to?? She said Oh some 70's music........So I went in her room and it was so not 70's music, lol It was music that I listened to when I was a teen, in the early 90's. (I am 30) But boy did she make me feel old! Anyway I just sat in her room listening to the music and thinking about that time in my life, which was not all that great but could have been worse also. There is a certain smell that reminds me of my grandmother, but I don't smell it all the time. I think it is a mixture of Ponds cold cream and a certain powder, but anyway whenever I do smell it, the tears come to my eyes, reminding me that she is no longer here ;o( Great post by the way!

Posted by: Leslie at February 23, 2005 10:54 AM

For me it's play-doh, lego's and lite brite... they remind me of being young too. I think music is the big one for me though, I hear a song, and just have all those memories of growing up come flooding back.

Posted by: Mary Jo at February 23, 2005 10:57 AM

It is amazing the memories that come back to me while my son, Andrew, and I make Play Doh cookies. Add a session of reading "Are you my Mother" and its like being in Moms arms wait for Dad to come home and play with me as a 3 year old. Ahhh...to live through the eyes of a three year old...Look forward to it Chris and Beth!

Posted by: Dave at February 23, 2005 10:58 AM

I was never allowed play-doh. But once, I had some silly putty and I got it into the carpet (that's why I never got any silly putty or play-doh again, Mom forbid it).

To this day I love silly putty. I have some at my desk (take THAT, Mom!). So I know what you mean.

Ahhhh, music and goopy kiddie doh. Heaven.

Posted by: Gweny at February 23, 2005 11:10 AM

You are so right. The smell of blooming jasmine totally takes me back to when I was little. We would take walks in the summer to the little library near our house and the entire front of the library was planted with blooming jasmine. The smell takes me right back.

Posted by: Bill at February 23, 2005 11:19 AM

Oh Chris! You're in store for lots of memories flooding back with your little one. PlayDoh was a big one for me...when we get out the PlayDoh for Ethan I just sit there and inhale that wonderful smell -- I absolutely love it. (I even tasted it a few weeks ago for old times sake!).

Posted by: Kelly at February 23, 2005 11:23 AM

Awww, I miss Play-doh!
Toys and candy does it for me. Oh and books. I still have a bunch of my old books that I saved from when I was a kid. I figure it's not only a memory but also inspiration for my own illustrations, and when I have a kid, I can pass them on to him/her.

Posted by: Kitty at February 23, 2005 11:50 AM

Yup def when you start playing with your little one childhood memories will hit you like a ton of bricks, except the bricks won't hurt you like actual bricks would.;) Anyways, smells that bring me back to childhood, def playdoh, crayons, apple turnovers and jasmine (too) since my parents have plants growing all around their home.

Posted by: groovebunny at February 23, 2005 11:55 AM

Certain sunblock smells take me way back to great family beach vacations. It's amazing how the memories just start flooding in. And Grover's "There's a Monster at the end of this book!" will always signify bed time for me.

Posted by: smartjuice at February 23, 2005 11:59 AM

Time travel totally rocks. I have lots of childhood flashbacks just from smells and songs, but right now my favorite thing is when I smell my husband. I still get butterflies because it reminds me of when we first got together. If I hear Wendell Gee (by REM), I remember when we first met. Having kids also adds a whole new set of scents and sounds that will be etched into your brain and years later bring back the sweetest memories.

Posted by: ms.quilty at February 23, 2005 12:18 PM

Even though I have had kids for eleven years now (GASP!) and have not been pregnant for seven years, my overwhelming association with Play Doh is how sick the smell made me when I was pregnant...

Isn't that sad?

Posted by: jenorama at February 23, 2005 12:30 PM

Can I just ask why exactly your co-worker gave you some green Play-doh? In anticipation perhaps? I'm glad it brought back wonderful memories.

Posted by: Pink Sun Drops at February 23, 2005 12:53 PM

Here in San Diego, as with the rest of SoCal, it's been raining non-stop for approximately 4 months. Hate the rain. HATE.

But love the smell, that acrid tang in the air that brings back memories of spring and summer in the places I lived as a kid - Oklahoma, Illinois, Alaska. The smell of green grass and forests and endless rolling plains and lofty mountains and clear streams.

Ah, my dysfunctional relationship with the elements.

Posted by: Jason at February 23, 2005 1:23 PM

smells always trigger memories for me. i had this Mint ChocoShip Bonne Bell LipSmackers chapstick back in high school, and whenever I smell it, it brings back memories of the football games my best friend and I used to go to, because we always had that chapstick with us. and playdoh...my, i love the smell of playdoh. reminds me so much of my childhood :)

Posted by: tiffanie at February 23, 2005 1:45 PM

Just wait until your baby is born. I had the same Play-doh flashback when i bought my son his first container. That first whiff just brought it all back. Also, the first time he sat in the tub and poked his finger into the funnel of water that was draining out of the tub made me remember doing the exact same thing when i was a child. And buying the same children's books that you remember from your own childhood is really fun. ah, i could go on and on...

Posted by: Laura from NYC at February 23, 2005 2:32 PM

yeah, i have some playdough....i love to play with it, it takes me back in time

Posted by: lizabetty at February 23, 2005 4:46 PM

"jasmine in the summer" - july 2002, watching the sunset at a beach in a tiny town in italy while travelling with my best friend. even just mentioning a smell can take you back. it's so amazing. and i have always loved the memory power of music. my best friend and i recently discovered a mixed tape she had made me ages ago and it took us back to soooo many days and places and events, it is unbelievable. gotta love that play-doh! :)

Posted by: Catharina at February 23, 2005 4:57 PM

Did you ever eat play-doh? It tastes like salt. Not that I ever tasted it....!

Posted by: etherian at February 23, 2005 8:02 PM

ya know, just a few back I was making stuff with play doh, with my 4 yr old. I left the room to answer the phone then I hear my girl friend scream AIDAN ( the mini me) I rush in and what is he doing but eating it. I chuckled looked at my girlfriend and said " yeah like youve never eaten it". Poor little guy was all freaked like hed been bitten by a black mamba snake. So to ease his fear I sat down grabbed a glob of the yellow stuff only cause hed already eaten some of the green and took a big bite . MAN is tht some salty ass stuff !!!

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