Saturday, April 1, 2017

Olfactory Memories

I cleaned my coffeemaker this morning with vinegar, and it brought back memories.

The odor of the vinegar.......I will say “fragrance”, as I LIKE the smell.  O.k., it is close to Easter right now – the obvious correlation is egg coloring. That does register, of course.

Then, there are the canning pickles references.  My first husband’s relatives did a lot of canning & pickling.  They made something called "Chow chow", a relish to put on hot dogs and other foods.  That had a vinegary flavor.

But the memory that came up, as clear as if it were yesterday, was Westview School.

When I was a child, as soon as I entered the school's hallway, I knew when our janitor, Pat Harriman, was washing the floors.  He used vinegar to wash the floors, as I do now.  Yes, it is a great, old-fashioned, tried-and-true cleaner.

That memory brought back another olfactory reminiscence.   Mimeograph machines and the paper, after it was printed on.

 My friend Leda and I were office assistants at Westview School,  in Pacifica, California. We answered phones (via old-fashioned switchboards), and greeted people at the front desk.
We did a great job. In fact, I got an award for my service as office worker one year.

But we also were artists – we liked to draw.  The mimeograph machine was too much of a temptation for us.
It was right there in the office, and Mrs. Heumphreus, Westview school's official secretary,  was not there, most of the time.

We were in charge.

So, we drew our pages at home, and made booklets of our work to bring to school, to be multiplied. 

You have to understand that there was no such thing as a photocopier back in 1966; mimeograph was the closest thing to it. The pages printed out in a very distinctive purple color – and odor.
It must have been a pleasant smell, overall, because the teachers used the machine to print out our test papers, and immediately after receiving those papers, the students would lift them to their nostrils, and SNIFF. 

We sold our booklets, for 10 cents apiece.  We sold many of our booklets. I also sold a few of my fruit character drawings to Anthony Jeanjaques, a discriminating fellow student art-aficionado.

Mr. Harriman figured into our artistic enterprise, as he let us take paper and artist materials from Westview's supply closet (pencils, paper, crayons) to use for our books.

He was a real softy. 

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