Monday, May 21, 2018


Driving home from the gym this morning I passed the local convenience store and it was still closed. The sun was rising and beating right into my eyes, causing me to put on my sunglasses.

Many years ago, when I was a young kid living in Brooklyn, as I awakened in the morning, I would see the sun rising, filtering into the blinds and hitting me in the eyes as it started its journey across the sky. With that clue of a new day was the incredulously delicious smell of Italian bread baking from the bakery next door, and along with Mom making her coffee as it percolated leaving the smell of freshly brewed coffee got me to get up hungry. It struck me that I no longer smell those smells at sunrise or anytime and haven’t since we moved from Brooklyn.

Olfactory experiences seem to be changing or the smells are disappearing from the Earth as I age.  I remember the smell of the peddler’s horse as he stood there waiting to move when given the command, the distinct odor of the back of an old TV when we changed the vacuum tubes that died out.

On a winter’s day, entering the school building I could smell the steam radiators as they heated up. The grocery store had a trigger effect on me, the fresh cut cold cuts of salami and cheese, all combining to heighten my appetite. Walking into a fresh vegetable store with an outside stand, the rotted, as well as the fresh, took turns invading your sinuses.

For some reason, walking into a bar on our corner with my dad when he picked up a pizza there was the aroma of the beer on tap, giving me a want to eat, the smell always made me hungry.

If you walked along Broadway under the el, every store had an odor, particular was the five & dime store. The smell was interesting, the odor of new goods placed in bins where women like my mom would pick through them.

The candy store on the corner across the street from the bar was special, the delicious smell of the candy section, the aroma, and taste of the Mello-roll or an egg cream, each with its own telltale aroma.

That first day of school, when the teacher handed out the new books, you cracked them open and took a whiff. Mimeograph papers, you had to smell them: it was intoxicating and a must!

There was an Italian bakery on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, you walked in and could smell the favors that were given out at Italian weddings, the almond candy in the hard white shells, the fresh loaves of bread that were put through the slicer in one shot, or the wonderfully intoxicating aroma of sesame seeds!

One of the greatest smells in my youth was the shoe man’s shop. The smell of the fresh cut leather, the polish, all lent itself to an aromatic experience, he looking so wise.

Dad had an old Plymouth that he parked in front of our apartment, my older sister Tessie and I would go and sit in it on a Sunday afternoon after dinner and pretend we were driving somewhere. (She did the not diving), but the smell of the steering wheel was unique, and I don’t think there is that anymore.

Then there was the visit to Grandma’s house, oh, so special, the odors as she cooked gripped your stomach and wouldn’t let go until you had to push yourself away from her table. She would cook or roast a steak ojn the open flame and drive my crazy with hunger, she know it too!
I miss those days, and it stinks!


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