Friday, August 29, 2014


That is all it takes, just a hint. Sometimes it comes in the form of a smell, ever so brief, or in a picture or even a noise. And when that hint comes along, it hurtles one way back to the past and times gone by.

Once when I was working and smoking was acceptable in an office, I lit a cigarette, and my boss who happened to be in my office paused for a moment, drew in the smell and said it reminded him of his father. I know that feeling, having sensed the same sensation myself. The smell of a fresh brewed cup of coffee and a freshly lit cigarette, two of my Dad’s morning habits before he left for work bring me back to a time and place no longer there. It makes me miss him and I wish I could see him one more time.

There are Sundays when TLW (The Little Woman) will make Italian pasta sauce, or gravy, and the odor seems to fill my nostrils with nostalgic want to see Mom again, steal a meatball and have her yell my name with a raised wooden spoon as she chased me.

Traveling through the city, looking at old brownstones and I am back in the streets of Brooklyn once again, playing stoop ball or stick ball, and recalling Mom leaning out the bedroom window calling me in for the night because it is getting dark.

Of course there is the smell of almonds covered in a hard sugar, with a smell that reminds me of Grandma Frances and her magnificent kitchen, the candies wrapped in a doily or lace like packages, favors from some wedding she attended.. The murmuring of Italian as the holiday would wear down to the final hours and Grandma held court and I became sleepy, resting in and out of consciousness until it was time to go home.

Then there is the sound of a tinkling bell as the Bungalow ice cream truck went down my street, Pete the driver selling his product, and seeing the beautifully rendered ice cream bar with the chocolate covering and a bite taken out, looking so perfect on the side of his pitched roof truck, making it impossible to not want one. Pete had a pencil mustache, and it made him look so wise in my eyes.

The other day I was reading the New York Daily News, from the back toward the front of the paper, just like Dad did, reading about his Dodgers first then the rest of the news, pinching the newspaper in the middle as he would turn the pages. Just like Dad.

I guess we are a bundle of past moments that are rekindled by subconscious clues that bring us back to a time and place and remind us of who we really are, not who we hope to be.

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