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Revised 26 December, 2009

THE ALLURE OF SWEET PERFUME

When my sister, Carol was about 5, she had a strong sense of her feelings about the world. She was actually very tender-hearted and very caring. She also had an insatiable curiosity about the things that mother's used to make themselves beautiful and presentable to the world.

My mother was a beautiful woman and after she and my father were divorced, had many admirers, which admiration eventually brought us our beloved stepfather. Most of these admirers provided gifts of perfume or pretty trinkets, as was the custom of the time, and Carol loved to look at the pretties and sniff the sweet perfumes. Unfortunately, not all of the "sweet" perfumes were anything anyone particularly wanted to sniff, but mother would not part with any of them as they were special gifts from special friends. And so they sat, finely arrayed across her dresser top just waiting for their moment in time.

Now, in our household, it was the custom to strip the beds once a week to clean the linens. In those days, the mattresses were designed to be pretty and contained little additions to cover the buttons that tied the metal coils of the springs to the mattress frame. This one had little pink tufts of cotton atop each of the buttons and a matching pink floral silk covering.

Mother had a perfume named "Yankee Clover" that was high on our "do not open" list because it smelled to high heaven. It was richly, sickeningly sweet, and sat to the back of the dresser. It was also a highly prized gift from a gentleman she thought highly of at the time so she kept it visible where she could look at it often.

On this particular morning, Grandma came up and stripped the beds while Mother got ready to go to work. Suddenly, the old mattress was an alluring and interesting item for a very curious little girl. The first experiment was to see if the tufts came off. A couple of the tufts did and the buttons were quickly denuded. But it all looked so very sad. The beautiful mattress had no one to lie on it and no sheets to cover it. It looked so lonely just sitting there. What to do to cheer it up????

And then, the face lit up and she went swiftly to work. Carol would cheer up that lonely mattress in the best possible way. She would make the flowers on its covers smell like the lovely flowers in the garden and she swiftly went to work. Carol opened the perfume bottles, one by one, and sprinkled just a bit from the pretty bottles onto each and every flower on the lovely silk cover. Then she gathered her fragrant bouquet all together in one final moment of glory and dipped each of the remaining cotton tufts into the bottle of the "Yankee Clover" for good measure and ran to tell her mother of the wondrous thing she had done.

I understand that the first reactions are always the best so I leave it to your imagination as to how her news of cheering up the mattress went over. I can only state that the one comment that remained in the family stories forever was, "Oh my God!!!, what is that smell????" that resounded when my grandfather got home, which comment probably sums it all up rather fully.

And so, all the pretty perfume bottles disappeared from the dresser top and for some reason, mother was given a brand new mattress. . .Go figure adults. Sometimes they just don't understand or appreciate the effort it takes to be a little girl with an longing for true beauty!!!