Concrete Memories


Over the weekend, some outdoorsy men in orange vests repaved and restriped the bank parking lot.  When I got to work this morning, yellow caution tape sealed off both the entrance and exit to the bank lot, leaving it to resemble a crime scene. I secretly hoped that there had been a body found in the ATM lane or something, and that I might be able to go back home since I wasn't a witness. I think I've been watching too much Dexter lately. Alas, Thankfully, the only reason for the caution tape was the new Purdue-colored parking lot, which looks lovely but smells like burnt rubber . The odor reminds me of my childhood: I am riding with my grandfather through the twisting back roads of rural Indiana, headed back to Bloomington or maybe Bedford from Carmichael Cemetary, where my lineage lay. I need to tinkle and have no choice but to make in the cornfields. My Papaw pulls over. As I step out of the Cadillac, my mary janes go squish in the not-yet-hardened asphalt. Though my grandfather wipes at my feet with newspaper, the strong smell of tar fills the car and it seems to linger there the rest of his life. Funny how a smell can bring back such emotion, with a sense of nostaglia so strong it makes my eyes water today.


That cemetery, high up on a hill, overlooks the family farm where my own grandmother was raised. I feel compelled to go home and re-read Memories of a Midwestern Farm, written by my mother's cousin, Nancy Hutchens. (She's the daughter of my grandmother's brother, and pretty much my coolest relative.) Her cookbook/ memoir contains reflections of rural life: journal entries written by her great grandmother Tribby and Hutchens family recipes (my favorite: Get You a Husband Apple Pie) as well as a picture of my Mammaw (Pauline Hutchens Burch) right there, on page fourteen, a picture that I will treasure until the day I die.

Comments

FictionGroupie said…
I'm like that with smells too. It's one of the strongest memory conjurers for me. Like every time I smell Herbal Essences shampoo I think of college because my roommate used it and our whole bathroom smelled like it all the time.
Deb Markanton said…
Wow, there are some stories there! Love the image/smell of your poor Mary Janes squishing in the tar. I almost cried for you! How cool that you have an author in the family and such wonderful memories.
I just found you through Stacy'blog.
You have a lovely blog.
I'm your new folower!
I'd love to follow my blog too:)
Have a great day!
Wait...you dislike Kentucky AND you grew up in Indiana?

Yes, we're going to get along just fine.

Perhaps I should start with your first post and read forward...
saucyminx410 said…
We must really have the same taste in TV first Flashfoward now Dexter.... I LOVE Dexter! Great minds think alike!
Sandra said…
I always feel a certain sense of jealousy when I read things like this. I don't have those sort of memories. I was never close with anyone in my family. I'm sure my family has a strong history but I don't know any of it and I don't even know if I am that interested in finding it out. It's kind of sad in a way I suppose.

I would love reading a book like that knowing that someone in my lineage wrote it. It sounds fascinating.

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