The Smells of the Past

A story by Irene Murray

In the books people write they continue to exist, tho' they may have passed. It's peculiar what you remember. I thought it would be pictures that would jar my recollections. Oh, they help
as does the music of the period. It all helps. But peculiarly it seems to be the smells that color my mind with myriads of thoughts. The good thoughts begin with the odors of rye breads and pumpernickel loafs being pulled from hot ovens at the bakery around the corner. And dozens and dozens of jelly doughnuts covered with snowy sugar and babkas with poppy seeds,
and hard barrunkis. In the Spring what jars me is the smell of lilac blossoms and I'm back in that parochial school classroom and dozing with the odor and my classmates. 
Or how about the smell of a wash brought into my mother's kitchen to dry on cold days where clotheslines flew flags of surrender from backyard porches in my old neighborhood in the city.
There were the strong smells of streets being tarred or asphalted with old people saying inhale it's good for you! How wrong, how wrong! 
In a city with the smells of industries, the smells of chimneys and coal fires of the past. And the clouds of gray that settled on everything and everybody. And yet it was the stink of employment, jobs by the hundreds in the city with many brass mills and many taverns. And the smell of urine in the halls of apartment buildings or of cabbage cooking behind some doors. It was a period in the 1940's and Europe's war had brought full employment and would pull us eventually into the mess called "The Great Good War" WWII. 
Will it take another great good war to pull us out of this recession??

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 asphalt,babkas,brass mills,cabbage,coal fires,OLLI,parochial school,recession,WWII
  Waterbury, CT
Feb 26 2024


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