Sounds and Smells

The house in which I grew up was pretty small. We had a kitchen which had just enough room for a small table that fit the six of us. There was also a dining room, a living room, three bedrooms, and a small bathroom with a tub only, no shower. I never asked, but I would guess the house was no more than 1,200 or 1,300 square feet…..

With a small house like that, someone could practically swallow in one room and someone else could hear it in the next. Not many secrets among family members in a house that size.

When I was growing up, my mother worked at the bakery, and she worked a lot. I think when I was really small she stayed home with us, but as we grew older and started school, she spent much of her day  at the bakery. I remember that Bec got our breakfast ready for us on school mornings because Mom was already at work; smokey link sausages and toast. I love smokey link sausages to this day, but she never makes them for me anymore!…..

Bec was always helping Jen and I with something or other. Jen looks surprised, and I’m clutching my bride doll like she’s preparing to elope.

Anyhoo, it was mostly Sunday mornings that I remember waking up early and hearing the sounds of Mom in the kitchen making breakfast before church. I could hear the radio that sat on her kitchen counter playing in the background. K-F-A-B, in Omaha. That’s how the jingle went. I can hear it in my head to this day. Nat King Cole singing Mona Lisa or Andy Williams singing Moon River. I could hear the refrigerator opening and closing. The sounds of dishes clanking brought me to my feet and I crept down the short hall to the kitchen. As I approached the kitchen, I would hear  Mom’s cough, caused by years of smoking. In fact, it was this very cough that inspired my dad to announce to Mom one Sunday morning that they were going to quit smoking. They did, and never smoke another cigarette……

Our kitchen was very woody. My brother is washing something. Probably Matchbox cars.

Mom would still be in her housecoat and slippers, but breakfast was well on its way. The days of drip coffee were some kind of Jetson fantasy, but there was coffee perking on the stove. I wish kids nowadays could hear the sound of perking coffee and smell its amazing fragrance. It wasn’t quite like the Folger’s commercial (remember that commercial Baby Boomers?) but it certainly had a distinctive sound.

I’ve often asked myself which of my five senses — sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch — I would give up if required to do so. I’m thankful that I’ve never actually had to choose, because God bless all of the people who live productive lives without the use of one or more of these senses. Hearing is perhaps the one I would choose if my feet were held to the fire. But I also believe that sounds can produce a memory quicker than else. For example, a familiar song can immediately take me back to a memorable place and time. But smells can also invoke a feeling of joy. I can scarcely smell bacon frying without thinking about Mom’s breakfasts.

The house in which Bill and I live is hardly a mansion. It does, however, have two levels, thereby decreasing the chances that anyone sleeping upstairs will be woken up by the smell of bacon frying. But I always hope that Court has some of those same kinds of memories as do I. Memories brought about through sight or sound or smells. Memories of being a kid and feeling safe.

5 thoughts on “Sounds and Smells

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