Play-Doh and Fireworks and Mimeo Graph Paper

Bryce came over to play today, and he decided it was not a train or a car day. He was interested in Play-Doh. I opened the can and was suddenly whooshed back to my childhood, easily remembering the sweet scent of the squishy dough that was almost good enough to eat. Play-Doh had the same effect today, because that is exactly what Bryce wanted to do with it.

I got to thinking about the other odors of my past. Crayola crayons remind me of kindergarten, when I loved drawing pictures of haunted houses complete with a ghost in each window.

Remember Silly Putty? You could stretch it, bounce it, and transfer comics from the Sunday newspaper with it. It had a distinctive odor which you could smell as you opened the Silly Putty plastic egg.

When I was in school, our teachers made copies using something called a mimeograph machine. They would stand at the front of each row of desks and hand out our freshly-printed tests, and every student would put the paper to their face and inhale the sweet smell of the ink. It is similar to the smell of dry-erase markers.

Brown paper bags from the supermarket, which have been replaced with plastic or cloth bags at most places where I shop, reminds me of September. That is when we (and all of you) would bring home books from school to be covered with these bags. The most skillful book coverer could do it without tape.

Caps. These were playthings meant to go in a cap gun, which came on a roll (red as I remember) like a roll of tape. If you didn’t have a gun, you could unroll it and smash their small little circles with a rock. I recall the popping sound followed by the aroma of smoke.

We had apple trees in our backyard, so a familiar odor signifying the end of summer is that of rotten apples, which Grandpa had to rake and throw away.

We would go to the Firemen’s Fair, where I could smell the disgustingly sweet aroma of cotton candy, which was a treat that I did not have often. On the last night of the fair, we would watch the fireworks. I smell the sulfur-infused smoke and it’s a September night at the field adjacent to my high school. A surge of memories hits me: Pitching nickels, meeting the kids we had not seen since June, sausage and peppers cooking on the grills, the Fifty-Fifty, and the rides—the Ferris wheel, round-up, whip and the scrambler. That ended our summer

Now you are grown up and I am in what Frank Sinatra calls the autumn of my life (maybe August more than September). I have more memories in my rear view mirror than in the road in front of me so I have a lot to say as I walk down memory lane.




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