Monday, April 30, 2007

Memories of the Past

I was strolling down West Broadway in SoHo and suddenly caught a whiff of something sweet and spicy but indeterminately familiar. I stopped, turned around and saw these stalks of empty cigar boxes on the stoop of the O.K. Cigar store.


Although I'm not a smoker nor have I ever smoked, I do like the smell of fresh tobacco. It has that inherent musky woodsy smell of earth and the forest after a heavy rain. It reminded me of the few times I went hiking in the woods when I was in college.


Smell or aroma has a weird way of triggering old memories from the past for most people. Does it cause you to think back of the past?

22 comments:

thwany said...

oh man i'm totally like that. smell and music always bring me back to a specific time in my life. i say this all the time, esp about music, and i drive my friends crazy with it. haha. things like the smell of my kindergarten cafeteria or the sound of the first ever song i danced to at a 7th grade dance in nome alaska, those are things that come back to me at random ass times and i'm never shy about telling my friends. haha i love it.

Belinda said...

I was window shopping the other day, and was enveloped by the stench of cigar smoke, either from the man standing near me or from the shop itself - couldn't figure it out - but I had to get out of the area pronto. I couldn't breathe at all! It was terrible.
Although the smell of unopened cigars and cedar humidifiers is quite nice.

Chanel No 5 always reminds me of my mum. She's worn that fragrance for as long as I can remember :o)

Dsole said...

oh Ming, there are some specials smells than reminds me a lot of things! i have a leather handbag of my grandpa that reminds me of him...
And there're smells that reminds me of places, and special moments in my life. It's a kind of magic thing, isn't it? how can a memorie be linked to an special event?
What a nice post :)

Abraham Lincoln said...

Those old cigar boxes brings back lots of memories. Cigars all came in wooden boxes when I was small and the people collectd them. Some of them even had dovetail joints and brass hinges. Mother saved them and used them to store what she called "junk" in them. When she needed a nut or a pin or a button or something small, that was the first place she looked. When they cigar company discovered they could get a serviceable box made from cardboard they all eventually switched to cardboard boxes and that upset a lot of people as the cardboard warped and bent and was just not the same. By the way, I hate the smell of any cigar and while I smoked for 47 years and have COPD now and heart disease as a result, and even an aortic aneurysm as a result, I can say I have not smoked since March 10, 1996. I am proud of that and wish I have not got hooked on the free cigarettes the Army gave us in our daily C-rations.

Ming_the_Merciless said...

Every time I walk by a french bakery, the smell of butter, sugar and vanilla remind me of helping mom make cookies for the holidays. We would stay up all night baking and talk about life. HA! And I was probably 12 years old. I was a very mature kid.

Olivier said...

il m'arrive de penser au futur, quand j'entend une chanson, quand je marche dans certain chemin, je repense à mon pere.
Comme toi, je ne fume pas, mais j'aime beaucoup les boites à cigares


it sometimes happens to me to think of the future, when I hears a song, when I walk in certain way, I reconsider with my father.

Like you, I do not smoke, but I like much limp them with cigars

pom d'api said...

I smoke cigares in my birthdays but I love chocolate cigares

Ex-Shammickite said...

The smell of suntan lotion takes me back to sunbathing on the beach with my friends when I was a teenager in UK... I can hear the laughter of kids playing and the noise of the waves on the pebbles.

TCho said...

i don't really have any smells that trigger the past for me. For me (and many others), it's sounds that have that effect.

TCho said...

oh actually, i just thought of a smell. I hoard hotel toiletries, and I still have some from the hotel in Sydney where I lived for two months. Every time I open up a shampoo bottle from there, it takes me back. Lol.

angela said...

Smells will trigger nostalgia faster than anything.
I'm a former smoker and wouldn't smoke again but sometimes, just sometimes when someone lights up...then I start coughing.
Angela

alice said...

A little like you, Ming, the smell of fresh bread, especially French baguette, brings me to this time when I came back from school. As i didn't eat very well, my mom was used to prepare plenty of small tartines (slices of bread), one with butter and sugar, one with butter and jam, one with Nutella...Smell and taste stay in my mind...Smell of almond white glue at school too...Oh, if I don't stop, you'll get bored by these gossips!

eg(scotland) said...

Smells, music, sounds - all of these can bring back a host of memories. I love the smell of pipe smoke - although hardly anyone seems to smoke a pipe now. I had an old uncle who smoked a pipe. I loved to watch him fill it and light it - and sometimes he would tap it against a wall if we were out walking to get rid of the old tobacco. I was out somewhere recently, walking, and suddenly caught the whiff of pipe and suddenly I was about 12 years old again.

EG

Todd HellsKitchen said...

I love the smell of pipe tobacco...

Wouldn't smoke it...

But it sure smells nice un-smoked...

ruth said...

I LOVE the smell of cigar smoke for about a minute. Brings back memories of high school football games. Also, I recently re-visited a family cottage from when I was 6 years old, and the smell of the fine sand brought all of those memories back. They say smell is the sense most closely associated with memory.

Your photo of cigar boxes is wonderful! So nice to visit you here again (but I have no smell memories associated with you :).

Keropok Man said...

You know it does it does!

Smells of Char Kuey Teow reminds me of childhood days when we will go out having supper on the roadsides.

Other food reminds you other occasions. Maybe smell of chou tou fu reminds you of visiting HK! haha...


Hey, not only food smells, but smells of perfume.

Certain perfume smell reminds you of certain people too. It is as if the smell is linked to that person!

isabella said...

The heady fragrance of the lilies of the valley always reminds me of my dad - I used to pick them on my way home from school, just for him...

Nabeel said...

In the French movie Amellie they had a similar box with memories inside :)

Kate said...

The boxes were being thrown away? Tell me it isn't true!!

I love the stories with the comments. Pine needles does it for me: Christmas and all the pleasant memories. Incense from church services recalls a cousin who was always overcome by the fumes, and who always fainted. The smell of burning autumn leaves which I loved and is now banned. More, more!!

Ming_the_Merciless said...

Kate - No, they were for sale. I think it was like $5 a piece.

Library-Kat said...

Thanks MTM...great picture and great question...I have nearly all the same odor-ific associations as my fellow commentors...and the same musical association (7th grade Dance!) as well. What a lovely "invisible thread" that you've discovered among us! Just yesterday, I smelled "hot wood" --like that of a pier or picnic table that has been baking in the sun -- and it brought me back to summers spent fishing/crabbing with my aunt on her boat.

Anonymous said...

i love the smell of crayons it reminds me of an innocent past that i no longer can relate to, but i know it is still attainable by the young and the smiling and the silly