Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Because the weather is warming up and the grass is greening up, it is now Skin-So-Soft season. The no-see’ems are coming out. Those are the ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and other critters that bite your flesh and make life miserable (the few things I hate about OK). I discovered SSS years ago from my farrier (yep the guy who shoes horses). He used SSS in a combo with fly repellent to spray on horses to keep the flies from bothering him and the horses while he was shoeing. If I were ever to be a contestant on “Survivor”, the one thing I would take with me to the island would be SSS, because I cannot stand the no-see’ems . SSS is the greatest invention since the wheel. SSS repels bugs and keeps your skin soft. I think you can even get it with a sun screen. Amazing!

When I first started using SSS, there seemed to be something familiar about the smell. I couldn’t place where I had smelled the scent before, but it was somehow comforting. I loved it immediately. Then one day while telling my mother about SSS, she said, “Oh, your grandmother loved that stuff. She used it all of the time.” Aha! So that was it. That was the reason I recognized the scent of SSS. The smell was taking me back to days spent at my grandmother’s house. My grandmother sold Avon and always had lots of fun perfume bottles and cream jars. But it was the smell of SSS that reminded me of her.

My brother and I called her “Mama” because she did not want to be called grandmother. I guess it was because she was a fairly young grandmother when my brother and I came along. The later grandkids called her grandma. Her name was Essie May. She was a little German/American Indian woman with dark hair and blue-green eyes. She is probably the reason I am short and round. She was amazingly strong for a woman and vivacious. Pink was her favorite color. We have so much in common that is scares me. Yet, I am much like my father. The two of them did not get along at all – both bossy.

Mama would plan these fantastic excursions whenever we came to visit. She liked to take us to the Dallas Zoo and Fair Park. She would carry an old Coca-cola metal ice chest, a homemade quilt, and huge baskets of food on these outings. One time while we were at the Zoo, she made everyone climb up this hill because it would be the best place for our picnic. Everything was toted up the hill including my brother and me. When it came time to leave, Mama grabbed up the metal ice chest, the quilt, the food, and had me under one arm and my brother under the other arm. I remember my very soft-spoken grandfather saying, “Do you have it all, Essie?” She giggled knowing that he was making fun of her.

Sometimes, I find myself doing the same thing. Whenever we are gathering up items, whether it is groceries, tools, suitcases, etc, I tend to grab everything I can possibly carry. Toby will say, “Do you have it all, Essie?” It is a reminder that I do not have to carry or do it all by myself. It is also a reminder of my Mama - just like the smell of SSS.


the friendly neighborhood piper said...

I read somewhere that the sense of smell is the most dominant of the senses regarding recollection. It must be the easiest for the brain to store the chemical code. I know that there are certain smells that transport me immediately to my grandparents farm or the farmhouse. As a kid, it was the most magically boring place on earth. Now its just a very fond nostalgic memory, that certain smells of cattle, hay, a dusty barn mixed with diesel, bread baking, and the certain dank odor of a root cellar can conjure tears in my eyes. There was a country song out a few years ago that reminded me so much of those times in my life on the farm, every time i heard it i almost had to pull over from not being able to see the road.

Becky said...

What a wonderful memory of your grandmother! Thank you for sharing it.

Buck Pennington said...

I second Becky's comment and concur with TFNP...scents are powerful things indeed, and can summon up memories that one may or may not appreciate, given the timing, set and/or setting.

When you said "My brother and I called her “Mama” because she did not want to be called grandmother." you made me think of my father. When SN1 began talking all those many years ago he would run around my parents' house constantly babbling... It was "Grandma-this" and "Grandma-that"...all the time. One day my Dad said to me in an off-hand sort of way:

"Ya know, there's no way to stop him from calling Mary "Grandma," and no real reason to do so. Now I don't mind being a grandfather, but the thought that I'm sleeping with a grandmother doesn't sit well with me...at all!"

I chuckled at that, at the time. Later on in life his words would come back to haunt me: TSMP was a (step) grandmother at age 30. (She's 12 years older than SN2, who became a father at 18.)

Thanks for pinging my memory, Lou!!

Bag Blog said...

That is a fun memory, Buck. Did you rub it in that TSMP was a grandmother at 30? I was thinking that 46 was pretty young for me to be a grandma. I had a friend who at 45 had four grown children all off in collge when she found out she was pregnant. It made me laugh.