Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Pain of Lost Things

by Julia Buckley
Did you ever find a product that you really loved, that really worked for you, and then it was discontinued? My husband and I both have scents that were once our signature perfumes--his was a Crabtree and Evelyn Cologne that I bought him when we were married; mine was a Laura Ashley perfume that I simply loved. Both were aromatherapy of the highest order. Neither is now available, even on Ebay. I did find one tiny bottle of my husband's lost cologne somewhere in England--just a few ounces for two hundred and fifty dollars. Too much of an indulgence, I'm afraid, and yet I was tempted to claim that last bottle as if it were the Holy Grail.

In addition, there was a Swedish shampoo I used in the 70s I would love to have again, but it's gone the way of the Dodo. I miss one vacuum cleaner that used to do a really professional job, and a computer printer that was cheaper than my current one but WAY better, and now is considered out of date, so one cannot find it--or cartridges for it--anywhere. And how about those food items we used to love that simply didn't sell well, and therefore disappeared from the shelves? Does anyone still long for the Quisp Cereal of their childhood?

I'm not sure why lost things are so compelling, why I feel almost hurt by their unavailability. I suppose, as with a lot of things, that they are blended in with my nostalgia for times past. Jeff's cologne brings back images of our honeymoon; mine elicits memories of my early career.

They say that smell is the sense most connected to memory, and perhaps that's another reason why the loss of those aromas rankles.

Am I alone in this, or are there things you miss that you can no longer get?


Keith Raffel said...

Quisp Cereal? No. But I miss my childhood staple, Post Oat Flakes. I've called and complained/begged and got nowhere. Maybe even worse is that Brooks Brothers Khakis no longer come in longs. I wear pairs that are tattered.

Joe Moore said...

The original Clark candy bars and Pommac soda.

Julia Buckley said...

Keith, I don't recall Post Oat Flakes. But I do know the joy of a favorite cereal. :)

Joe, how were the original Clarks different from later ones? Do they still make Clark bars at all?

And I wonder--if you both got the food you miss, would it taste the same?

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Julia, you can still get Quisp! Go to www.hometownfavorites.com. I saw it there, along with Clark Bars. No Oat Flakes or Pommac soda though. This is a great site for nostalgic food. Sorry, Keith, no Brooks Bros. Khakis in long.

I know what you mean though. I once stumbled across a favorite face cream that had been discontinued and bought 10 bottles of it.

And you're right Julia, scent is a powerful connection to our past, especially when it comes to the odor of certain foods. I can get a whiff of something and be transported to another time and place in my life instantly.

Another great place to get long-lost and forgotten items is Vermont Country Store www.vermontcountrystore.com. I visited a Vermont Country Store last fall while in Vermont and picked up a bar of Zest soap (remember Zest?) just because it reminded me of my dad.

G.M. Malliet said...

Good post - it got me thinking about so many "lost" things from my youth. A chocolate candy bar -- really a mountain-shaped chocolate-and-peanuts thing. I still look for it when I'm in a different city, thinking maybe it was a regional item.

I think any fragrance - food (bacon and eggs!), perfume, flowers - used in writing is extremely powerful. It brings the reader right THERE.

G.M. Malliet said...

Sue Ann - I just found something very like I remember at www.hometownfavorites.com - it's called Cherry Mash.

Thanks for posting the link! Very cool site.

Julia Buckley said...

Wow, Sue-Ann! You're the information lady. Keith and Joe, go get those memories!

GM, how great that you found your choccies. It's like we're reuniting everyone with their childhoods. :)

This will sound weird, Sue-Ann, but when I was a kid I had a DOLL that smelled a certain way, and every once in a while I'll smell something a bit like it (but not quite) and I'll picture my doll very clearly!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Julia, as soon as you said "doll" my nose's memory filled with this hard-rubbery scent that was so reminiscent of my baby doll when I was little. It had this thick plastic/rubber face, rosebud lips, "hair" that was molded in curly shapes on its head, rubbery arms and legs attached to a stuffed soft body, and eyes that blinked open and shut when you moved her - very low tech!

Julia Buckley said...

I had a doll similar to that, too--I called her Honeybaby. But the doll I'm thinking of was like a small Barbie--it was called a Dawn Doll. Does anyone remember those? They had a rubbery smell, yes, but also somehow smelled sweet.

G.M. Malliet said...

I just had to laugh. I notice the guys are staying well out of this doll discussion.

I've got another one for you - the smell of paper. I am addicted to the look, feel, and - especially - the smell of new paper, new notebooks, new books. I have had to get very firm with myself about not buying more notebooks until I've used up the 2 dozen or so that are already stacking up.

Julia Buckley said...

Oh, yes, GM, I am a total paper addict. At the beginning of the school year, when I get my free teacher's editions, I open the books and inhale. I'm sure I look like a weirdo, but it justs smells so great. Kindle can't replace that.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Julia, your photo reminded me of something I lost. I bought a lovely perfume bottle when in Cairo. A man came to work on our shower and he knocked it off the shelf and broke it. Like the other items you mention, it's not something I can easily replace!

Julia Buckley said...

Wow! But at least you have memories of going to Cairo! How awesome. But I know what you mean--of all the things for someone to break. How sad.

Karyn said...

Wow - I can't believe you mentioned Pommac soda! It took me a while to remember the name. I could only remember that I loved a soda that started with a P. I thought it was Potomac - LOL. I don't even remember what it tasted like - I just remember I loved it. I thought I had heard that there was a reason they took it off the market but I can't remember what it was.