Every now and then you smell a smell and it brings on a memory. We all have them but what do we smell that our ancestors would recognise.
No I’ll start with 3 smells that always remind me of my childhood. The first is swarfega. For those who don’t know it a hand cleaner for getting bad muck and grim off. It’s used a lot in industry and most people doing engine work will know about it. It has a really unique smell and is green so it looks a bit like ectoplasm from Ghostbuster. Now when I smell it I think of the end of the day when I was a kid coming in from helping my family in the garden or having had my hand in an oily engine. Ah nothing better than sitting trying to work out how to sort the electrics out on an original Mini. It evokes happy memories.
The other 2 smells are linked as they were always used in conjunction. The first is Dettol. The brown liquid poured into water and used to clean out all the cuts and scrapes I got playing outside and falling over or off my bike. I remember one liberal dose of the stuff after a bamboo cane was thrown at me on my bike and by sheer luck when straight through the spokes of the wheel and over the top I went. Lots of Dettol that day! The second is Zambuk. This is a herbal antiseptic ointment used on cuts and scrapes to aid healing, and I can say it works. It’s made from eucalyptus amongst other things and smells really great. I had a lot of it on me as a kid. I used to fall over all the time and usually had scabs on my knees and my toe ends held on my Zambuk and plasters. I have to say it worked really well and I have no scars at all, which is a miracle. I still use it today and in fact have some on my finger at the moment.
So what smells are still around that our ancestors would recognise? Well there are the obvious ones from nature shall we say, especially with my ancestors that had a lot to do with horses and other animals.
Now it may surprise you to know some of the perfumes that are still on the market today have been around for a long time. Some are even pre Victorian era. Even some of the big branded perfumes have been around since the 1920’s. So if you think about it most of my great great Grandma’s were alive then and even some of my great great great Grandma’s. This means they would recognise these smells if they went into the perfume shops today. Even now the smell of a perfume can remind me of my Grandma.
Now off to the kitchen. Here we find smells that will never change as they are the smell of the natural product. But brands were emerging that may have been found in our ancestors homes. Worcestershire sauce is a prime example. That was developed in the early years of the Victorian period. The Sheffield version came along in the later Victoria era but both may have been used by our ancestors so if they entered our kitchen they may find it interesting to find it. I mentioned Dettol earlier and that would have been available to our ancestors. I can just imagine my grandparents as kids sitting on the kitchen table having their cuts cleaned out before being sent back out to play. Zambuk was available in the 1900’s so my great grandparents may have been sat on the kitchen table.
So have a think about the smells that remind you of memories from your past and of your ancestors and add them to you family tree. Who knows in the future your descendants may read it and think I know that smell and it creates a link to the past.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!