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Saturday, August 25, 2012


Not long ago, I was thinking about my grandfather’s garage: It was there long before I was born.  Typical old type made of wood with two big doors that one had to close manually. Inside was a dirt floor and two wooden planks for the car to rest upon. There were no windows and the funny thing I remember is that there was never any mildew in there and there was only enough room for one  car.

What I do remember is the distinct smell of being inside that garage for I was in it a lot when my grandfather had the doors open and was looking for bug spray or the like. It smelled of wood, bug spray and had a faint smell of gasoline. And I loved that smell. I can conjure it up right now from memory: Some things are like that with me and perhaps with you the reader. It brings back happy memories of my childhood because I was always the rummager and would look for things in that garage. I do remember finding some old medicine bottles and asking my grandfather about them but he declined any comment.

When I asked my grandmother about those bottles, she told me that his first wife was a Christian Scientist and did not believe in taking medicine in any form. And so he sneaked out to the garage and took his medicine and hid the bottles from her. I wish I had kept those bottles but like most things, they didn’t seem important to me at that time—just a fleeting treasure.

I definitely remember that bug spray: It was in a metal pump and smelled awful. But he used it so much that I developed a tolerance for it. Heaven only knows now what it was made out of and I’m sure I could google the contents but would be afraid of the findings and no doubt, they would have been really bad.

The push lawnmower was in the garage but my grandfather paid a man to do the yard; later on as a young child, I got to push it in the yard. Didn’t do much grass cutting but it was fun to mess around with.

My grandfather died when I was eleven and not much later, my grandmother sold his car. Oh yes, I still would go in that garage to get things to help her out and later as an adult, she asked me if I wanted my wooden childhood play things. Have no idea why I didn’t take my doll bed or doll high chair but I did take my red leather little chair. It was like the other things in perfect condition which surprised me and no doubt her.

When my grandmother died in 1971, my mom and her sister rented the house. This went on till about 1980 and then the house and garage were sold. I’d drive by just for security’s sake to see both and it made me feel safe. Six years ago, the owners of both had them demolished. Broke my heart. Loved the house and that garage was a thing of wonder to me. Gone but all I have to do is to think about it and I can see it in my mind’s eye. And I remember the smell—how could I ever forget it?
My grandfather’s garage was a special thing and place to be in.

Sherry Hill

*I have no picture of the garage; it reminded me of the one in the movie "A Christmas Story."

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