When I was but a wee lass, my mother would deposit me at my grandparents’ house at the onset of summer vacation to “spend the night” and there I would stay all summer. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a change of clothes or even a toothbrush, but my grandparents, resourceful people that they were, managed to provided whatever was needed. Year after year this was the routine.

My grandparents’ storage shed, where they kept the dryer and a deep freezer full of hamburger patties and freezer-dried buns, had the most intriguing scent.  I’m convinced it was the lingering fragrance of the 1950s, though probably it was just a bouquet of old insulation, dryer sheets, and mildewed wood.  Whatever it was I have never smelled anything else like it anywhere. Somehow the scent persisted through the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Inevitably, other family children wound up at the grandparents’ house to stay the night (for real just the night) while I was there. My grandmother would occasionally ask one of them to go to the shed to get the laundry out of the dryer.  I was rarely asked to perform this chore, probably because I was the youngest and least reliable. Plus, going to the shed by myself scared the heck out of me. In fact, I might have left an accidental trail of her panties from shed to house once when on this mission by myself…out of fear, mind you, not out of spite.  It’s hard to run away from imagined monsters while burdened with a load of heavy laundry.

Despite this fear, I didn’t mind accompanying the appointed laundry retrievers to the shed because I loved smelling the room and because all the other family kids were bigger than me, better at fighting off offending monsters, and thus terribly interesting.  I didn’t want to leave any of them alone for even a minute for fear of missing something fantastic that they might do.

So there we would stand with “not enough room in this shed for both of us” (whatever) while he or she dealt with hot laundry and I huffed the scent of the 1950s.

I really miss that scent.

Any scents from childhood that you miss?

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