Do you have scent memories?

I was just reading the Ponies/little girls thread and it brought back memories of riding lessons in rural Maryland. One of the most memorable things of those lessons was the smell of the tack room. It smelled powerfully of leather, horse sweat, saddle soap, hay and general mustiness. Ever since those days any time I smell musty sheds, leather or some similar scent, it immediately and strongly brings that tack room into my conciousness. I always close my eyes and I’m there in that shed.

There are other scents that do this too me. Fresh cut grass and gasoline on a hot day brings up all the summer lawns I’ve mown. Concrete, old motor oil and dust brings back the garage in my second house. And of course the smell of the mountains always makes me long for the trails along the Blue Ridge.

Does anybody else have scents that evoke certain places and events?

When I was eight or nine years old, my mom had a hugely thick mohair coat. I’ll never forget the way that coat smelled when Mom came home on a snowy evening.

Scent is quite well know to be the most powerful thing to activate past memories.

memories … not really. hallucinations … yes. mostly of bacon that isn’t there.

There is a certain “plastic smell” that reminds me of pens I had on the first day of school as a kid.

Old Spice after shave reminds me of my grandfather.

Anything smelling of lilac reminds me of my granmother who had lilac bushes around her house and almost always wore lilac perfume.

The smell of anise reminds me of a kind of candy my mother made every Christmas in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

The smell of hospitals does not bring back happy memories, and I always dread whenever I smell that anticeptic odor.

When I was in college (where I had attended swimming lessons as a child), I sometimes would catch a whiff of chlorine as I was walking to class. It always made me feel like a kid going to swimming lessons again.

Two that always remind me of my Grandmother;

Garlic frying in olive oil - she made the best pasta sauce in the world.
Toasted cinnamon raisin bread with butter - this was a staple at Grandmas.

She was a great woman.

I remember how my grandmother’s house used to smell, back in the '60s when my grandfather worked the night shift. Grandma would put on a fresh pot of coffee for him so it’d be ready when he got home. Then he’d normally make some peanut butter toast to go with it, and then go sit in his chair and read the paper and smoke a pipe. If we arrived there around 9 AM, the house had this wonderful smell of percolated coffee and peanut butter toast and aromatic pipe smoke.

I also remember how the hardware store used to smell. Part rubber, part lawn chemicals, part oil and grease, part paint, part kerosene, all blending with the smell of the 1800s building with the creaky, worn hardwood floors. I thought I’d never smell that aroma again, but a few years ago, I was on a walking tour of beautiful downtown Quincy, Florida. I came upon an old, old hardware store and decided on a whim to go in. And there was that smell! Just like I remembered it. Somehow, the Home Depot doesn’t seem to have that ambience.

From what i remember, sense of smell is directly wired into your brain, rather than whatever the alternative is. So when you smell a strong scent, it brings back almost a vivid sense of being there, rather than just a memory.

That being said, the times I spent in India were some of the happiest of my teenage years. Certain smells will still bring me back to a street corner in Delhi with the little carts all around, the crowd, my family, and the vendors calling me into their shops.

Sigh. I wish I could visit again.

grumble grumble damn airfare grumble grumble


**That’s ** the phenomenon in a nutshell. The feeling of Being There, not just remembering it.


That’s another one that get’s me. The smell of my dad’s overcoat when he got home in winter.

Absolutely amazing, Hypno-Toad. When I left for work this morning, the scent of the outside air, fresh and cool with just a hint of the coming of winter, took me back for just a moment to my original hometown of Plattsburgh, New York. As I got into my car, I was thinking about how when I got home, I should start this exact thread. I sign on to do so, and you’ve beaten me to it by an hour and a half. Just as well, though; I’ll just post it here.

For me, scents bring back strong memories of place. As you said, Hypno-Toad, it’s a sense of “being there”, where “there” is the last or most memorable place I encountered that scent. Now, that does place me in some odd and annoying situations sometimes, such as when I smell fresh-baked cinnamon raisin bread and the only thing I can think of is Grandma’s house. I have to think “well, it’s obviously a food, smells kinda like cinnamon, must be something Grandma likes to make…she bakes bread a lot…bread, cinnamon…ah, that’s the ticket.” That thought process only takes a split second, but it always seems like when I’m through with it, everyone else has already declared “Mmmmm, raisin bread!”.

Then again, I’ve always suspected I wasn’t quite wired correctly. This sort of thing is just a little more proof. :smiley:

YES! For me there is one scent that has a very specific memory attached to it. I sometimes smell it in some large dining hall style kitchens, I’m not sure exactly what it is but it brings me back to sometime a little before first grade when I was making cupcakes with a group of kids for some sort of Christmas program, I think.

Every once in a while, maybe once every year or two, I run across this smell and it hits me.

I have TONS of smell memories. Most of them are associated with food, which is then associated with some event or activity. Many are not. For example, when I read the word “ponies” in the original post I immediately remembered the smell of my sister’s old My Little Ponies dolls, which took me straight back to the basement of our old house on 44th Street where my sister and I had a play room. (By the way, were My Little Ponies supposed to have a particular scent, or am I just weird? The smell I remember isn’t “icky little kid” smell – that’s totally different, and I have separate memories for kid-caused smells.)

I can’t think of any better examples right now, but I am constantly telling my wife “Hey, that smell reminds me of…” It has gotten to the point where she can smell something and say “You’re thinking about [memory the smell is tied to], aren’t you?”

How about a song which triggers a non existent smell?
Back in the sixties, I hung around a candy store / burgers and fries place. It had a juke box, and on any given day, a dozen of us were hanging out, doing what we did in the sixties. To this day, the first notes of ‘Bristol Stomp’ by the Dovells, opens up my olfactory senses, and I smell french fries cooking in grease.

Crayola Crayons – brings back nostalgic childhood memories

Mimeographs – freshly printed … I’m instantly transported back to junior high and high school.

Diesel bus fumes – induces vivid memories of my many years traveling all summer with Drum and Bugle corps.

Most assuredly! There is a shrub - which I have never been able to identify - whose smell always reminds me of my grandmother’s house in Co. Laois in Ireland because there was one there. I lived in London where the only vegetation I encountered as a child was either just grass or on my dinner plate.

I was JUST saying this to my sister the other day! We were on the highway next to a big motor coach, and I took a deep breath and said, “mmmm…Band Trip!”

We call these “smemories”

I know what my old My Little Ponies smell like, so no, I don’t think you’re weird. :wink:

Actually the smell of My Little Ponies brings me back to my aunt’s house as a kid, just playing the day away.

Old English has a furiture polish scent (Country Blossom, maybe?) that brings me back to my best friend’s first place. Probably the most fun ever.

Water and the exhaust from boat motors always bring back the first day we would put the boat in the water in the late spring. Add in Coppertone tanning lotion (this was back before sunscreen) for the full effect.

The smell of grapefruit reminds me of Christmas, because a friend of my parents always used to send us a case from Florida around that time. It was a treat for us up there in the frozen North.

The smell of lilies always strongly repels me.

The first time I ever smelled them as a child was at Granny’s funeral. :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: