5/09/2008

Memories in a Bottle

The other day I did not tell all about my finds in Beggars and Choosers in Pittsboro.

Yes, I found the "snappy shoes" but I also came away whistling with these two blue bottles tucked in a recycled plastic bag- not for the blue bottle tree but for the memories.

The squat blue jar is a Noxzema bottle. Can't you smell it as you read that word? When I picked it up from the shelf my head filled with the distinctive, sharp odor of the crisp white cream. The first time I remember Mama adding a jar of Noxzema to her store of wonders in the medicine cabinet we lived in the # 12 of the Virginia Apartments at 814 Hawthorne Lane in Charlotte. I was ten years old.

When I took my prize to the lady sitting beside the old style cash register I asked her if she knew of any other blue bottles in the store, "This is the only one I saw." She stepped around the desk saying, " didn't you see the Evening in Paris perfume bottle? or maybe its too small."

She opened the windowed door of a chest where the tiny treasure was tucked in a corner. I gulped at the price - because I knew I was going to buy it. 'Oh, no, that's too much." We looked at each other quietly. Maybe she was thinking about how long the dusty little bottle had been stashed on the shelf or asking herself when there would be another "live" buyer for it. She nodded and slid the price down to fit my wallet. She cradled the bottle in her hand for a moment before handing it to me. "This is an original 1920s bottle." There was a bit of a wistful note in her voice.
Then with her soft British accent she confided, "Evening in Paris was my first perfume."

Maybe she was seeing this small Navy Blue bottle sitting on her dresser as I was seeing it on Granny's dresser. I held it to my nose. It still smelled faintly of the familiar fruity perfume - and that scent took me back to 2308 East Seventh Street, standing next to Granny as she sat at her dresser, brushing her hair and powdering her face.

I am glad the woman did not realize - I would have gladly paid her price - for the memory.

Later I checked Google for some facts.

Evening in Paris came on the market in 1929 in this very style bottle. It was designed as an elegant scent in a distinctive bottle for those who could not afford Chanel.

3 Beautiful Things for today:
1. Jim made yellow dried pea soup for supper. Thick and delicious on a coolish rainy evening.
2. Long chat over coffee with Lucy at Starbucks. We rambled back through shared memories of the Washington Women's Arts Center where we learned new stuff and were free to try out ideas to see if they would really work. An artist's support community in the truest sense of the word.
3. Vivid green of fresh plants sprouting up after a Spring rain.

4 comments:

Granny Sue said...

Ellouise, I so wish we lived closer to each other. I read your posts and it's like hearing your voice, and I want to share a conversation with you about the things you write about.

I remember Noxcema well--it was my teenage antidote for all the ills that befall teenage girls. And Evening in Paris? That was the standard gift for Mom when we could afford more than Atom Bomb.

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