If someone had asked me what scents and fragrances I
remember from my childhood, apple pie, meat loaf, Wrigley’s spearmint gum, and
line-dried clean sheets might have come to mind. But last Friday while at the
checkout in Dollar General, I saw this.
Stopped in my tracks, paralyzed, I was unable to move
forward. No, I didn’t need to spend the $2, but the coral and white paisley packaging as
well as the memory of the soft spicy musk of Chantilly made it impossible for
me leave without handing this to the clerk as she scanned my purchases.
On my way home, memories drifted through my mind. My
parents, my sister, and I lived in a small, three-bedroom ranch with one
bathroom. By today’s standards, one bathroom might seem inconvenient, but in
the late 1950s we just felt lucky to have a bathroom. No one I knew had more
than one bathroom, and many families had five or six kids. The medicine cabinet
held everyone’s toiletries and toothbrushes. But, the Chantilly dusting powder
always sat beside the sink. Mom was the last to get ready for bed at night.
She’d wait until everyone else had taken their bath, then take her own and scrub
out the tub. If I was still awake by the time she was ready to crawl into bed,
I’d smell the Chantilly dusting powder as the second-to-the-last step in her
nighttime routine. The last step was kneeling to pray at her
Even though both of my parents died of Alzheimer’s, I feel
so fortunate that they were sweet to each other and close until the end.
Sometimes when I went to visit them in the nursing home, I’d find them curled
up together, Dad’s chest snuggled into Mom’s back, spooned together, his arms
I had not thought of Chantilly for years. But when I arrived
at home from my errands, I opened the bottle, sniffed and dabbed a drop in the hollow of my
throat. I’ve worn it every day since. Out of
curiosity, I Googled Chantilly and learned that came to market in 1941, the
year my parents started dating, the year my Dad entered the Army.
Amazing, isn’t it, the way a scent can trigger long
forgotten recollections? Thanks for the memories, Chantilly.