“Songs and smells will bring you back to a moment in time more than anything else. It's amazing how much can be conjured with a few notes of a song or a solitary whiff of a room. A song you didn't even pay attention to at the time, a place that you didn't even know had a particular smell.” -- Emily Giffin, Something Borrowed
In Barking From the Front Porch I mention the warm thoughts and pleasant memories of the smell of garlic emanating from my grandmother's farm home. To this day, the smell of garlic evokes feelings of friendship, family and welcoming in my mind. Other odours, fragrances and sounds of the past bring back vivid memories.
There was the smell of the beer parlour in Kuroki Hotel. Although I was too young to legally darken its doors during business hours, I remember the strong ammonia smell of urine, spilled stale beer and ashtrays overflowing with crushed butts. My early recollections of that beer parlour were of a large, busy, smoke-filled room, generally with an abundance of laughter.
Those odours from our childhood certainly bring back memories of times gone by. The images and nostalgic recollections are vivid, but are they accurate? The smells of garlic, urine, overflowing ashtrays and stale beer created memories that will not be easily erased - nor do I wish them obliterated. But in reviewing some old photographs, I have reason to doubt the authenticity of some of those recollections. The stories I relate in my book are true, but they may have been manipulated by youthful perspective. When we are in our toddler and preteen years our view is somewhat skewed. To little people, the world seems larger. So it was with the Kuroki Hotel and its beer parlour. I remember the beer parlour as being quite massive, but this photo taken in about 1950 shows quite a tiny place - a room about twelve feet in width. Either my memory has faded or someone photo-shopped the image it to make it look smaller.
The same could be true of most of our memories. The sounds and the fragrances from the past bring back amazing recollections, but they may not always be historically accurate. We remember what we want, in the way we want - at least that's what I tell my wife when we differ in our reminiscences. I remember them correctly! Then we have another debate.
Gerald M. Sliva
Still Barking! Blog of