Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

Chuck Hinman: IJMA. What's that smell?

Chuck Hinman: What's that smell? Chuck gives thanks for this old nose that's been through a lot with me and is still "good as new."
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - It's Spring Again

By Chuck Hinman

What's that smell?

Connie and I used to have this little game we played every evening when I arrived home from work. While still embraced and with the aroma of a supper like only Connie could cook as a backdrop, I would screw up my nose and tease her with the words "what stinks?" Never one to be outdone she always had a caustic response.

= Those nostalgic times came to mind recently. I was sitting in my recliner when I became aware that a little red candle on a nearby table was "doing a number" on my sense of smell. I became caught up with the strangeness that my seeing and hearing senses have taken such a pounding in recent years and yet my sense of smell has escaped unscathed.

Smells that left permanent memories

I then set out on recalling some smells that have left some indelible marks in my long and rich life.

Anyone who has been in the showroom of the candle factory west of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where that little red candle came from would have to agree that it surely must be the best place in the whole world to work. Mercy!

Kitchens, cellars, hay-mows, and blooming plants

I move next to the unforgettably spice laden smell of Grandma Hiles (Mouser's) kitchen. Not far below is the earthy smell of her orderly root cellar.

It helps to have some Nebraska farmer blood (preferably red) to appreciate the smell of a new crop of alfalfa in the huge hay-mow. And who could forget the awesomely fragrant smell of a summer-fallowed field of yellow sweet clover for soil enrichment the organic way. Watch out for the bees! And while on the subject of smells, don't forget the lovely aroma of blooming lilac around our homestead. The bushes were huge.

Teenage pairs: Aqua Velva and Chanel No. 5

Or what teen-age boy will soon forget when he finally had enough beard to shave, going on a date and wreaking of Aqua Velva shave lotion. What a smelly pair when his date had overdosed on Chanel No. 5. No wonder a swarm of honey bees followed them everywhere. Isn't that romantic?

And while on that happy subject, let's mention pre-air-conditioning moonlit nights when the smell of honeysuckle wafted in open bedroom windows. What a setting for romance!

Worst smells: dead mouse and skunked-sprayed dog

And now from the sublime to the ridiculous. The all-time worst smell is that of a dead mouse in a forgotten trap in the bottom of the old clunker piano. Not far behind in the bad smell category is when Sport, our dog, had been sprayed for the umpteenth time for wanting to be too chummy with a skunk.

I will always remember the tine I took Connie home with me to Liberty, Nebraska to meet my parents on the farm. The next morning Dad was proudly showing her around the barnyard, alive with everything -- pigs, cattle, horses, chickens. Connie took the Kleenex away from her nose long enough to say "It's wonderful, Mr. Hinman, but do you ever get used to the... the odor?" Not perturbed by the blunt but honest question, he squeezed her hand and smiled as he said "We Nebraska farmers have funny noses. This all (pointing to the barnyard) is what money smells like. Connie grew to accept that explanation. I, too have learned that in life, not everything smells like the candle factory on Radar Hill.

Another trio: party and popcorn, fresh laundry, and glue

Or what about this trio of smells -- the party smell and sound of popcorn popping in the kitchen; the extremely fresh smell of slightly frozen laundry brought inside to finish drying next to the floor furnace register; the potent smell of glue we boys used (and sniffed) repairing bike tires.

I don't believe there is a more enduring or endearing smell than Johnson's baby powder. My all-time favorite smell is the midnight feedings of our kids Paul and Mary Ann when they were babies. I loved nuzzling my nose in their clean hair with the smell of Johnson's baby powder overpowering the nursery as they noisily nursed their bottles as I was loving them to sleep.

Oh God, it doesn't get any better than this so "Thanks For The Memories" as Bob Hope used to sing. And thanks for this old nose that's been through a lot with me and is still "good as new."

Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed: Sunday, 28 March 2010.

This story was posted on 2013-04-07 00:48:36
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by Linda Waggener and Pen Waggener, PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia Magazine. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.