Memories: Sense of Smell Must Be Wired Directly Into the Hippocampus

Have you ever smelled something that instantly brought back a strong memory?

Whenever I smell wax-leaf ligustrum blossoms in the spring, it takes me back to my childhood in Houston, TX.

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Here’s to you, Uncle Hank

I thought I’d try a whisky less expensive than Jamesons, so I brought home a bottle of Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The first whiff immediately transported me back to age 12, Baytown, TX, and thoughts of my favorite uncle, Hank Tarski.

I don’t know what Hank drank, but I’m guessin’ Jim Beam.

Hank was quite a guy. I loved him. He was Polish and worked as a chemist at one of the petroleum plants in Baytown. Was he a fighter pilot in WW2, or did I imagine that? He had a beautiful huge mustache, smoked a pipe, had a waterfront house on Black Duck Bay. Hank’s laugh was infectious, and got louder the more he drank.

One of my strongest memories of him was when he took me and his sons fishing in a small boat on one of the local waterways. I still remember catching catfish and croakers; they were small but that doesn’t matter to an adolescent boy.

I also remember falling asleep upstairs with my siblings and cousins while Hank and Kay and my parents downstairs stayed up late talking and laughing, sometimes shouting! We could only imagine the muffled topics of adult conversation. This was the 1960s.

Hank died of pancreatic cancer ten or 15 years ago. I miss him very much.

—Steve

PS. I almost named my son Henry, and we’d have called him Hank.

One response to “Memories: Sense of Smell Must Be Wired Directly Into the Hippocampus

  1. Well that brought tears to my eyes.

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