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Wet Shaving Times – A Scent Remembered

A scrappy young Journalist is sitting at a train station, waiting on a train to head up to Chicago to go see the White Sox play against the Cincinnati Reds in the third game of the World Series at Comiskey.  He’s been excited about this series his young life, and he is fortunate to have the pleasure of being sent to it for free by the newspaper he writes for.

He has a little time for a shoeshine, so he decides to step over to the shoeshine man at the station, where he plops down and tells the man he’d like a shine.

The Journalist is  wearing lace-up brown oxfords, nothing special, just your Regular Joe model as he’s a bit on the practical side.  He’s clean cut and uses Pomade in his hair which looks like a slick dark wood floor.  All the gentlemen in his era wear hats – most of them anyway, but not this fella.  He’s not gonna mess up his hair.

Between the Brilliantine scent from his hair, the old newspaper smell, the cigar smoke from the cigar that the shine guy was smoking and the broken-in brown soft leather chair he’s sitting on, it’s this comfortable scent he’s familiar with.

Maybe it’s from the train station itself too – that smell of business and pleasure mixed in with the aroma of people from all walks of life.  He is home when he’s here, as he’s spending much more time out and about than at his small run-down apartment in Downtown Bloomington, Illinois.

Perhaps he’s still smelling that Lumberjack Breakfast from the Department Store Diner he just was at this morning (Dollar size pancakes doused with fresh maple syrup along with sunny side up eggs and sausage from the local meat market).

The ol’ Philco radio is on, playing a tune he knows real well… “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”

Then it hits him.

A familiar floral perfume fills the air from a dame who’s dressed to the nines complete with a mink coat & smoking a cigarette lodged in a holder that clashes wonderfully with everything he’s been smelling in this old shoeshine chair for the last two minutes.  For a split second, he thinks about it.  “Man that gal looked familiar.”

She disappears into the crowd and he sits there, remembering way too much from his past and the gentleman tells him, “That’ll be two bits, sir.”

The Journalist gives him a one-dollar bill and says, “Keep the change.”

The shoeshine guy says, “Her name is Margaret, she comes through here a lot as she comes to see her Mother who’s been ill for the past few months.  You’re headed up on the same train.”

A smile suddenly appears on the Journalist’s face.  He realizes what’s about to take place – Margaret is an old flame who had moved up to the big city and they’ll be trapped on that train for a while so they’ll likely see each other.  She’ll have a few choice words for him but he’s up for the challenge.

Those were Wet Shaving Times back then and the scent he just had the pleasure of smelling again was everything he loved about life.


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