The Sense of Smell

whamo.jpg As I posted earlier, before working on the EVP section of my book, I re-read A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman for inspiration. Great, great, book. She has a section for each of the five senses, but the best section by far is the one about the sense of smell. It’s just such a poweful thing.

And this memory popped into my head, of a toy from my childhood. Super Elastic Bubble Plastic. You’d put this gooky stuff on the end of a small, plastic tube and blow up very fragile balloon bubble things. Except I could never quite get it to work. Maybe I blew up a few delicate balloons. But the smell. It’s the smell of childhood. I remember our house, our porch, the lawn, our dog, everything.

So, I bought this cheap, knock-off in a drugstore. It was very satisfying. It still doesn’t really work, but the smell is exactly the same. I love smelling things from my childhood. Like playdough. They are comfort smells.

(The picture is from a website called

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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