As I Like It!

THE SENSES

1. image for Senses article

We are graced with five senses that serve as our portals to the world around us. These senses allow us to find our way about, to avoid danger, and to find those things that we need to maintain life; but they also connect us to our inner selves. There’s a direct connection between our senses and our emotions, and all you have to do is hear a symphony, see a sunset, smell burning leaves, feel the warmth of sunshine, or taste a sweet tart to prove my theory.

My generation experienced sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures that are fast becoming things of the past. Here are some of my favorites:

There was a burning tingle in your nose when you took the first sip of a real Coca Cola in a green bottle. Coke can claim that the formula remains the same, but that tingle is gone.

I grew up in the Mississippi Delta, and two distinct aromas took me back to 1950: the chemical odor of DDT being spewed behind the mosquito truck, and the smell of cottonseed hulls burning in the fall.

For a lifelong hunter, there is nothing more nostalgic than the feel of polished wood and steel when you handle a fine shotgun or rifle. There is a heft and texture of a finely made piece of machinery. Chances are that it came with the aroma of Hoppe’s #9 gun oil, and there’s that satisfying “click” when you close the chamber.

There is also little in life for a hunter that can compare to the sight of a flight of ducks cupping their wings just before they land in your decoys. This is usually followed by the smell of empty shotgun shells on a cold winter morning. There’s the distinctive sound of a dozen pair of wings taking flight under the nose of a white and liver pointer who can’t understand how they managed fly away, and the feel of icy water leaking into your waders when you’re standing amid flooded oaks waiting for the ducks to come.

I loved the smell of wood smoke on a cold winter morning as I’d leave the camp to walk to my stand, and I can still hear the baying sound of a pack of beagles tracking the cover of Field and Stream through the reds and golds of autumn in the south.

Memories flood with the smell of an outboard motor, be it a Johnson, Evinrude or Mercury, making its way to the gamey odor of a bed of bream.

Music, like life, was a whole lot simpler in the fifties. The haunting sound of Rufus McKay singing Danny Boy takes me back to a Red Top dance that came to an early morning close. This was usually followed by the raw taste of a half pint of Colonel Lee. I cannot imagine a sound that can compare with Nat King Cole singing Mona Lisa, Johnny Mathis crooning about Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, Hank singing I Can’t Help it if I’m Still in love with you, Elvis singing Blue Moon of Kentucky, or Johnny singing Ring of Fire. Not much can top listening to Autumn Leaves and Canadian Sunset with a sniffer of fine brandy and a crackling fire close at hand.

There was a time when the brassy sound of John Phillip Sousa filled a thousand high school football fields, and the sight of cheerleaders in short skirts warmed our hearts.

Nowhere was the sense of smell more alive than with the tangy odor of spring onions being crushed beneath cleated football shoes during spring practice. This was usually followed by the aroma of Atomic Balm or T4L, and the sour reek of a locker room full of pads and uniforms.

Bacon cooking before I got up to go to school signaled a new day, and the aroma of a gas room heater hissing in the corner was a source of warmth and security..

I could probably go on forever, but these came quickly to mind. I grew up in a simpler time, a time without personal electronics or thousand channel cablevision. As I look back on these times gone by, it’s difficult for me to imagine what, for a child of today, will trigger fond memories of zombies fighting mechanical monsters, or the sound of a rap song about whacking the police. I just can’t relate to the feel of punching keys on an I-Phone or the aroma of toasting pop tarts.

Then I remember my parents getting teary over Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman, and my Dad asking me how I could possibly stand that duck tailed, hip swinging dude singing about some damned Hound Dog. What goes around comes around, and I’ve made the full circle.

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Categories: As I Like It!

9 replies »

  1. Man…growing up in Tunica I’m surprised we never bumped into each other. Every sense you mentioned in your post, I can relate to….even the “Red Tops”. Thanks for the memories. E.

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. Tom,      The reference to cheerleaders wearing short skirts triggers this quickie quiz question which is do you know why cheerleaders wear short skirts? George

  3. Perfectly said. The current generation will never know some of these things. They will not listen to the stories even if they are lucky enough to hear them. The most some my age remember is napalm in the morning and not the odors of the ritual hog killin’ in the chilly fall air.

    Jim

  4. Like Jim Syles and Robert Duvall, I remember the smell of napalm in the morning, but it is blanked out by the smells Deo Valent set forth. Thanks for reminding me.
    J. Rose III

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