Memories, scent and sound

Tom is out with a busted computer so…….I’m baaaaack!  At this rate y’all will be PRAYING for March and Tom to return.  Prayin’ HORD!

But for now, ya got ME!


And I have a winner ( or two)  from Autumn Leaves:  Queen Cupcake!!!   and Maureen!!!  I’ve been really good about getting these out, so HOLLA! and I’ll get some fun stuff out to you!  gmail me at evilauntieanita.

I dunno about you but Autumn is Memory Time for me.  Not all melancholic – just a whole lot of memories pop up.  Perhaps it’s because I tend to look inward in Autumn  – who doesn’t, right?  Some of it is sight-inspired…there is this little enameled vase that belonged to my grandmother – every time I see it I think, not of her (she died long before I was born) but of Otto Preminger’s film ‘Laura’, which then reminds me of my Tia Cornelia (her living room was much like Laura’s).    And I think of Liz Zorn’s Violets and Rainwater, even though the vase is of cloisonned irises….

…..and yes, nearly all of the visual memories are tied up like skeins of silk, jumbled in a drawer.

Sound memories are a little more straightforward.  I am currently on a Vince Guaraldi bender.  I have waxed long and loud about my love for Bossa Nova, with Vince Guaraldi at the forefront.  He’s tied into so many things from my youth and early adulthood – my father adored him and owned every one of his albums.  We wore a hole in the Grace Cathedral record and it sparked a lifelong love-affair with San Francisco (even though I would find myself preferring the other side of the bridge – both bridges, in fact).  But it also connects to my mother, and it’s one of those intriguing Six Degrees situations, because my mom liked jazz and bossa nova but not to any great extent.  But she loved the living daylights out of the 1959 TV show Mr Lucky.  I remember her settling down to watch our giant console TV (with the record player in one of the boxes –  remember those?  We also had one of those black panther statues.  Oh, c’mon.  You remember those, right?  I can’t remember if ours was a lamp or not – something tells me it was)  – anyway, the incredible Henry Mancini did the sparkling music and Vince Guaraldi would later do a sparkling rendition.  After each episode would find my mom humming the Mr Lucky theme song -and as long as she was humming that song all was right in our fraught little world.  In a weird confluence of the elegant and homespun, I always associate Mr Lucky with plastic sofa covers and the smell of pot roast.  I wonder what John Vivyan and Henry Mancini would make of that.  That spinning sound you’re hearing?  Blake Edwards, coming up out of his grave, to beat me senseless.  He probably didn’t even know what a pot roast was!  I wonder if he had a panther lamp atop his console TV……..?



wore a hole in this one, too!

wore a hole in this one, too!






The most nostalgic smell for me is not perfume, it’s not even pot roast.  It’s a smell that has nothing to do with me, personally but I think it personifies a particular time in my life.  It’s the smell of hairspray.  My mom shed her glamour image in favor of a more hausfrau style – and she suffered from depression (so spent quite a bit of time in bed, self-medicating with Nervine and scotch), so hairspray and nailpolish were not a bit part of our lives.  When I was 15 we moved to Chicago’s Pill Hill neighborhood – and I met our next door neighbors, the Kahns.  Mrs Kahn was Vegas-style glamour – and the pervasive smell, throughout the entire house, was that of hairspray & nail polish remover (they smell eerily similar).  I’d never smelled that much hairspray in my life!   Breck!  Aqua Net!  Final Net!  To me, it spoke of beehives (she had one) and afternoon martinis and canasta games and any minute Tony Franciosa was gonna come through that front door (alas, it was only Mr Kahn).   I don’t think Mrs Kahn ever cooked a meal in the entire time I knew her.  Every night was takeout!  Oh, the magnificence of takeout!  Prior to knowing the Kahns I don’t think I’d ever even heard of takeout!  Their daughter was the epitome of the Seventeen magazine girl, a Colleen Corby clone – and I worshipped her.   To this day, when I smell AquaNet, it brings back memories of my adoration of the Women of Kahn.  They moved to the Northwest Suburbs a year or two later, replaced by yet another elegant, hairsprayed woman and her daughters.  I think I had the only non-hairspraying mom on the block!

Can o' Glamour!

Can o’ Glamour!


Am I the only one who has these weird connections?  Am I crazy?  Okay – Crazy is a given.  Am I Crazier?  What are your non-perfume memory triggers?  Sight? Sound?  Smell?  I will, once again, pull a winnah!  I would have Banana do it but I swear, if you could see these paws.  It’s like asking Godzilla to type a mash note!


  • mikasminion says:

    Musette, it will take more than two posts in one week for me to get sick of you! I tried to reply to the last one but my computer ate my reply and I gave up, but I really couldn’t have said it any better than everyone else. I’m sending you a big, comforting virtual hug and a hang in there. Also, wow that’s a big honkin’ dog.

    Ooh, Tiffanie, your pink story triggered a memory for me.
    Both of my grandmothers died before I was born, but my Mom’s first husband’s stepmother was always my grandma (in fact, it was probably far later than it should have been when I realized she technically wasn’t). She was not one of the cuddly grandmas, but a cool, elegant, sophisticated one and her condo was completely gorgeous. I don’t think anything in there was less than the best quality she could find and the color palette was pale green, a slightly darker cool green, and soft to mid-tone yellows. It was so beautiful, with pale silvery-green carpet and satin-stripe wallpaper and the upholstery was silky fine velvet with narrow green, cream, and yellow stripes.
    I remember she had maroon as an accent color to the green in the powder room, which brings me to the scent association of the fancy little spherical guest soaps in pink and maroon that I longed to use, and used to sneak in to smell. They smelled recognizably like soap, but much fancier and completely unlike than the yellow Dial we had, so who knows what they were perfumed with.

    Incidentally, I still love tv lamps and find them useful and interesting. We have five, including the black Kron Sportsman Panther lamp and a lime green panther. Panther lamps are cool. Tv lamps are cool. My uncle has a lovely peach colored one with little parakeets all over that casts the neatest silhouettes, I covet that thing.

  • AndreaD says:

    We weren’t a cosmetics-using family. But music was another matter. While I suffered hours of childhood insomnia in my upstairs bed (with the tufted ivory vinyl headboard), my father snored away on the LR sofa downstairs. Once a week the TV blasted the dreamy tropical theme to “Adventures in Paradise”. I used to lean against my window screen in the summer, hoping to get a glimpse of the next door neighbor’s TV from my bed.

  • Jackie b says:

    Hi Musette, lovely to see you back!
    Some of my memories also include hairspray, mixed with stage make up before a performance, then the added extra of sweat afterwards!
    But a really strong memory I have is sitting in school on a hot summer afternoon, the smell of mown grass drifting in through the windows. Trying to stay awake…

  • Tiffanie says:

    Ha! Aqua Net is amazing. That smell never dies.

    For a non-scent memory trigger, I am always reminded of my grandmother when I see pink bath towels. She loved that soft pink color which was in style in the 1950s. Her house was emphatically pink: pink exterior house paint, pink camellias in the garden, pink interior wall paint, pink curtains, pink pillows and lamp shades, pink kitchen floor and pink appliances, pink dishes, pink rugs, and 2 wall-to-floor-to-wall-to-ceiling pink bathrooms with pink tile, tub, sink, and commode. Plus the Dixie cup dispenser full of little pink plastic cups.

    Ralph Lauren did pink striped bath towels a few years ago. I had to have them. There were just like grandma’s. Instant good memories. And she always smelled of Rose Milk lotion or an Avon carnation perfumed cream. Good stuff.

  • N says:

    I was born in the 70’s and I remember my aunt and uncle had a console TV. It was like furniture meets television. It was huge with a disproportionately small screen. As a little kid I used to play with the sliding wooden roll over part that made it look like a cabinet without a TV. Was a TV set something you wouldn’t want company to see or something back then?

  • Heidi says:

    Musette, this was so much fun to read. That panther lamp! My big non-perfume smells are all over the place. Hairspray — White Rain hairspray — but for my DAD! He had a very elaborate combover in my early years, before he gave in and embraced the baldness. Diesel exhaust from the marching band years — all those buses taking us to games, parades, competitions. And smoking clove cigarettes in the Rialto movie theater every Saturday night at the Rocky Horror Picture Show screening. The smoke hurt my lungs, but I loved the smell.

  • poodle says:

    Two Musette posts in one week! Yay!
    I’d have to say the scent of Vicks Vap-o-rub takes me back to my childhood every time. Mom would always smear that stuff all over me when I had a cold (which was always) and then she would make me some hot tea. I didn’t like tea but it always seemed like I had to drink it like some magical elixir. For years I couldn’t shake the association of being sick with tea but now I love the stuff. Vicks on the other hand always gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It always makes me think of being wrapped in my favorite afghan on the couch. Mom made it with variegated yarn that I picked out. It was bright green, pink, and yellow. Completely hideous color combo but I loved it and I still have it.

  • teri says:

    Wasn’t Vince Guaraldi also the composer of the Peanuts theme song? Probably not what he’d most like to be remembered for, if so, but I always did like it.

    I was a part of the in-between generation when it came to hairspray. My own mother didn’t use it as she was allergic to it and also had thick lustrous hair that went effortlessly into a French twist. Oh how I envied that hair! Mine was fine and flyaway and could have used some hairspray!

    My high school and college years came during the era when straight as a board hair was in. We tortured ourselves attempting to sleep on coffee can rollers, ironed our hair, and struggled to dry it with those ghastly old bonnet-style hairdryers. They took forever. Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific was the fave shampoo of the day. And it did – make your hair smell terrific.

    I remember my sorority house smelling of GYHST, Tame creme rinse, and a jumble of Ma Griffe, Blue Grass, Eau de Love, Love’s Baby Soft, Alyssa Ashley Musk, Heaven Scent and Wind Song. That and Beamon’s gum, which for some reason was a bit of a sorority trademark.

    One of my fav sorority memories is of laying out to tan on the roof of the house, coffee can rollers in our hair, Beamon’s gum cracking, Bain de Soleil on all exposed skin, WLS cranked up on the radio, and making rude gestures to the boys at the frat house across the street who were ogling us with binoculars! lol Good times.

  • Dina C. says:

    Great writing Musette! I loved reading about the evocative scents of your past. I have a memory of hairspray that was triggered by reading about yours. I was in high school at the time when Farrah Fawsett’s famous flipped hairstyle was in fashion. Well, every girl had to have some variation of that feathered bang thing going on, and the only way to hold it in place was tons and tons of HAIRSPRAY. 🙂 So in between every class, girls would dash into the bathroom, pull full-size cans of hairspray out of their purses, and spray frantically until the room was a dense fog of Rave, Aqua Net, Final Net, etc., and then race out to their next class. If you actually had to use the toilet, you’d take a big gulp of air in the hallway and try to hold your breath the whole time you were in there! Thanks for bringing back a hilarious memory.

  • Maureen says:

    Hi Musette,

    Every time I smell Nivea lotion, I think of all the Italian ladies at this private swim club my best friends parents belonged to…it’s all they ever used. These were impressively big busted ladies, super tan, and me with my pale Irish skin was always jealous of those tans. Sadly, my best friend and all those nice ladies are no longer with us. The Nivea makes me smile and remember them. I think I won something, too….e-mailing you. So excited…never win anything. If it’s me, Thanks!


  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    My Grandma would make pineapple fruit cake. It was her thing, and my favourite. Every time I smell any olf fruitcake I think lovingly of those ENORMOUS cakes she used to bake for me, and they would last months.
    Portia xx

  • Sapphire says:

    She did most of her cooking and baking in that stove/oven, too, though I don’t know how she regulated the temp. She was a great baker of bread and meringues and pies.

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    Wow, Mancini, Aqua Net–great memories! I remember the smell of Prell shampoo, and the odd sound our little chrome-plated hairdryer made. It had the air output of a light breeze (2-hamster power by my reckoning) and weighed about five pounds. I envied my friends, whose parents had one of those cool TV lamps. My folks were a bit strait-laced when it came to decor, and, well other things too. I loved your line about the memories like tangled skeins of silk!! Please tell me you are writing poems. Your commenters are pretty good writers, too. (And Yayy! I won some fun stuff? Thank you! Emailing you now.) <3

  • Sapphire says:

    Hi Musette, those are great memories of the shampoo and hairspray smells. Sometimes I can be in a random place and get a whiff of a particular smoky smell and it reminds me so much of my grandmother’s kitchen in Ireland. She used a wood-burning stove (you’d be surprised how many people still do over there). It burned both wood and peat logs. I think it’s really the smell of peat burning that is so unique. Anyway, just the right thing can take me straight back to that farm and farmhouse on a cool, damp morning.

  • Pam says:

    Ah, AquaNet! And with it, I remember those rollers with brushes inside that were some kind of torture devices. But necessary for beauty. One must sacrifice. Forgive the digression. I know the rollers were not scented.

    A scent that brings back great memories for me is the original Jergen’s lotion. My favorite aunt used it, and when I stayed with her, she always let me use it too.

    Great writing, Musette.

  • Solanace says:

    The smell of rain hitting the warm summer soil! I was lucky enough to grow up along with a bunch of girls, and we played every day after school, a horde of little barbarians. When summer rain would inevitably fall by the end of a hot day, which was, in the end, the only time we had to play, we would not go back home, but ran instead further, towards the lake, not be found by any stranded mom. From today’s perspective, this was dangerous. Brazil is world champion in deaths by lightening strikes and there we were, running on an open space. But in the 80’s it would be considered very whiny indeed to be afraid of such an esoteric thing as being hit by a lightening. Now, when I start cursing the rain, running for my shoes, I am often surprised by a sudden memory of the way rain felt back when I was eight, the sense of liberty and wonder it conveyed, and then I often find myself embracing and enjoying. Which is not always possible when the joints hurt, though, I have to say!

    Double hurrah for double Musette week!

  • Starling says:

    Oh my, such great writing. I can feel the angst of days gone by with regard to the scent memories of hairspray. My memory trigger would be Agree shampoo. Oh, how I wish they still made it. That beautiful, thick, unique light green tinted shampoo so beautifully scented and you could smell it as you dried your hair. I remember our college dorm rooms all smelling like Agree shampoo and conditioner in the mornings and at night and oh my goodness, when we were all blow drying our hair, you could smell it clear out the windows of the dorm hi-rise, layering and blanketing the rolling hills below.