My father shaved every Saturday night after his bath. The smell of the week's sweat was washed away, replaced by the clean light fresh smell of the Sweetheart soap he used.
The week's stubble needed to be removed and the slightly peppery scent of Old Spice added to his face to mix with the Sweetheart soap smell. It was shaving day.
Our bathroom didn't have a sink and mirror to stand in front of while he tended to his weekly ablution. The bathroom was small, with only a flush toilet and a bathtub, a room with a little window dressed with a frilly white curtain.
He shaved at the kitchen table. Once a week after supper and the table being bare, my father took out his "stuff".
His stuff consisted of a white and red metal box with a lid, in which he kept an old coffee mug with a broken handle. In the cup was a round cake of white shaving soap about 1 inch thick when it was new and thinner when it was well used. A brush with a wooden handle lay beside the cup and sometimes it had the dried soap crystals stuck on it, left over from the previous week's shave. The razor with a screw on handle was there too, open and ready for a blade to be put in. A box of Gillette double edged blades and a stypic pencil finished off the contents of his box.
He carefully set a red steel cup filled with hot water on the table and rested a round mirror against it. Next to the mug was a 6 inch length of toilet paper. He always nicked himself during the shaving process and after dabbing a dot on his face from the pencil, he stuck a small piece of paper over the cut until the bleeding stopped. Sometimes he nicked himself in 2 or 3 places and had little hunks of paper hanging on his face. He looked so funny then.
My father's beard wasn't a heavy one but the week's 1/8 inch brown stubble was shaggy looking. It was uneven, some places having a heavier hair growth than others. And it was pricky.
Before he shaved, I remember that I liked to rub my young girl's cheeks against the pricky growth and feel the scrub against my face. It felt good and I took in the clean Sweetheart bath soap scent.
Dad always took his time shaving. It was a slow and methodical undertaking. My brothers and I knew not to bother him because he was in his own space for 15 minutes or so. This was his time and his alone. He ignored whatever we might happen to say to him. We did watch him though as he wet his brush in the hot water, swirled it around on the round cake of soap, looked at it to see that it was soapy enough and if it was, to gently slowly swirl the lathered brush on his face. He was giving himself a lingering facial massage. Maybe, for a minute, he daydreamed about a young sweetheart's fingers gently caressing his cheeks. It was a sensual lathering.
After the shave when he'd removed the dabs of toilet paper from his face and rinsed off the leftover soap at the kitchen sink, he was approachable again. We could talk to him and he would answer.
Old Spice was the only aftershave he used and he used it liberally. He washed his face all round with it and rubbed some into his neck, over his arms and into his hair. Oh, how I loved the smell of that after shave.
When he smelled so good and with his face so smooth, again I'd rub my cheeks against his. I'd nuzzle deep into his neck. I inhaled him. He was my Dad and I loved him dearly. I remember.
I'm 67 years old now and Dad has passed on. In his later years, he refused to own an electric razor. He refused to have one of "those fancy razor things". He refused to try a new aftershave. He was as much a part of Old Spice as Old Spice was a part of him. I remember.
Fortunately, after his passing and things were upside down, I remembered to take the by now battered and dented white and red metal box with all his "stuff".
And whenever I catch a whiff of a gentleman's Old Spice aftershave or cologne, be it even for second as I pass by a stranger on the sidewalk, I remember and it gives me a tender warm feeling.
The power of scent can't be touched or seen but it can be remembered and felt.
On a lighter note, my son now has his grandfather's beaten up metal box and he uses it for his shaving needs. He uses an old fashioned double edged razor too, his choice after having tried many of the currently marketed shaving systems. He wrote a thriftyfun.com piece about it called Saving Money Using Double Edge Safety Razors.
I've kept the red hot water cup. It's mine and I remember.
Source: My Memory Museum
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What a sweet story to share with us. The power is scent is amazing, isn't it? My father has reached the age where he can no longer manually shave on his own anymore, and doesn't really like it. He stopped wearing his usual aftershave, (except for maybe for a special event) which makes me sad, because that's my well known "dad scent." He said I could have his bottle of aftershave, but I'd like it to be with him for special occasions.
Thanks Attosa ... yeah, he was my Dad. Via a mutual friend, I remembered and it burned in me to write this piece.
A simple thing like shaving is such a personal thing and and I think the fact that your father doesn't like being helped with it, is understandable. Maybe that's why he doesn't care to use after shave anymore.
Could a hair removal product like Nair be used once a week? If he could apply it and wash it off himself, it might give him back the feeling of independence that he has possibly lost.
I commend you for loving and caring enough to "want to take him back."
Taking him back is my priority in life and I couldn't have it any other way. My father does not have any male grandkids, but I will happily take his male "sets" just as your son so sweetly has your dad's. I love that!
My dad has an electric razor that keeps him happy, and that's as far as he will allow for facial upkeep. He loves having the occasional dark grey streaks added to his hair, so mum and I do that for him.
Must thank you again for writing this. It's excellent to know (and feel) other people's memories and bring up your own. I'm welling up just writing to you :) Hugs!
Science can't tell us much about time. Some schools of thought would have the past gone forever, while others would have all times existing simultaneously.
If the latter is true, there may be yet unknown means to visit these other 'Times'. I'm wondering how Mina would feel visiting the time she writes about here. She couldn't participate in that time; as a mature woman she wasn't there the eternal 'first' time. But as a visitor from another time, she could see her father, in the flesh, shaving again. She could even see herself as a child, looking admiringly at her father.
If we could visit other times where our 'past' relatives and friends are alive and well, would we? Or would the realness of other times be more than our psyches could bear?
Here and now, our psyches are safe in just remembering. We shed a tear, we smile inside; and if the memory is vivid enough, we smile on the outside. We may never time travel, but we can always remember our friends and relatives. We can always keep memories of them, and them, fresh and alive. We can and we should.
Thanks for sharing such a sweet story. Scents can hold such wonderful, sweet, and interesting memories. Even though my son is 33 now, I can still remember his sweet baby smell. (And the Axe stuff he used to bathe himself in as a teen.)
On a funnier note, when I was a teen, I loved the smell of British Sterling. The 60s were a time of lots of aftershaves--Brut, English Leather, Canoe, etc. So, one Christmas I decided to buy my husband some British Sterling. I didn't even bother to smell of it in the store, because I knew I liked it.
On Christmas morning, he put some on, and I suddenly remembered who else used to wear it because I liked it----my first husband. "Oh, no--he smells like R."
I never told him, but I never bought him anymore of it.
Beautiful Story Mina, yes scent is very powerful. My father always wore Aramis, sometimes my husband will wear it, and it always brings back memories!!! Thanks!!!
Mina, what a loving memory of your dad and you. The things we see, touch, feel & smell that remind us often of the loss of dear loved ones, are cherished moments and precious memories. They are memories of their good life with us. "A Celebration of Life." I was inspired by your story. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with Thrifty Fun readers.
Thanks for sharing a very touching and personal period in your life as I feel sure reading it will bring back similar memories for many of us who may not always take the time to "stop and remember".
Reading the responses also assist in that process of remembering lost times that can bring back good and sometimes sad memories but all still valuable in our lives.
As for the reality of traveling back in time, I can still look back and literately "see" my grandsons playing in the lake water while I am still "there" watching them. Memories - nice...
Thanks everyone for letting me know that the sharing of my memory of a tender moment triggered a special memory of yours. That was my hope.
We all have memories ... tender ones that make us smile with contentment, happy and carefree ones that give rise to a deep belly laugh, sad tearful ones, bittersweet ones and even ugly ones that we sometimes wish we didn't remember but do. They are a part of us. They have made us who we are and deep down, we are all the same.
Somebody once said "what good are special talents when there is no one to share them with".
The same applies to memories. They need to be shared. I encourage you to share your memories, tidbits at a time, with your husband, wife, children, grandchildren and friend.
Your stories are your treasures.
To help get you on your way, and if nothing else, to pass a few minutes of your time, here is a part of a letter I wrote to a friend a few years ago. Friend, you will recognize this letter and I thank you for getting me started on my memory journey. You are one of my heroes.
"I didn't grow up with the many extras that kids my age had back in the 50's and 60's and took for granted and I didn't grow up as poor as you did, but thanks be to God, I learned my lessons well in our regulated and disciplined home and we were never without heat, food, shoes or clothes. Compared to your stories, I grew up privileged.
My immigrant non-schooled Mom and jack-of-all-trades Dad supported a family of 5 with no-nonsense and common sense when it came to money. Dad worked at whatever job he could find (and was never without work) and Mom stayed home to attend to the house, a half acre veggie garden, our free range chickens, a pig, a few rabbits and us kids. We didn't have much in the way of fancies in our home but we had the essentials we needed.
I still chuckle to myself when I remember one of Dad's smart ways of bringing home extra food including items that we ordinarily couldn't afford to buy. Back in the early 60's the two area grocery stores turned over the produce racks every Wednesday, throwing out everything that hadn't been sold the previous week. Dad made friends with the produce managers and it was agreed that he could take home the boxes of produce for his pigs and chickens. Well you know who the first line animals in the house were ...us.
Every Thursday it was the job of we kids to go through the boxes and remove outer wilted lettuce leaves, yellow or brown spots on vegetables and fruits, outside dried celery stalks, etc and the cut offs were indeed given to the pigs and chickens. The best part, the tender inside part, was brought into the house for immediate consumption or to be put into the freezer. Year round we enjoyed out of season fruits that Mom made into wonderful desserts and we were excited when she tried a new recipe with an otherwise unknown food, okra or artichokes for example. And it came to us free !! We called Monday "Mystery Monday" because it was fridge clean out day and supper was a mix of all the previous week's leftovers, cooked into a delicious stew and served with homemade dumplings. No two stews were ever the same and that made the fun.
My parents are gone now (God rest their souls) and I'm a senior myself with several grandchildren. I've much to thank my parents for because they were my mentors and taught me so much. I'm trying to pass on the things I learned to my children, grandchildren and anyone who wants to listen, learn and sleep easy. First hand learning the hard way is often the best way I do agree but if I can pass on some knowledge and tidbits to an eager ear, I'm thrilled to do so."
You'r so right , Mina.The scent of new-mown grass takes me back to Sunday afternoons when I was a kid. The men would come out with their mowers doing their lawns. I use an old push mower and the rhymic sound takes me back as well.Summer days when Mum, Granny and my big sister were still around. All dead now, alas but just for a few seconds i can believe they're there again.
Jodi. Loved your tale of mixed up husbands!
Marg from England.
That brought back memories of my dad who also shaved at the table. My Mom would wash his back, he got so dirty at his job. When we lived in the country Dad, not only share cropped, he also worked as a mule skinner, that means he drove a six up team of mules for a logging company. He pulled the logs out of the back woods up to where the trucks could get to them. Mom would wash his hair over a large pan of hot water, then wash his back (where he couldn't reach) then he would shave with a cut throat razer which I still have (no I lie, just gave it to my youngest brother about three years ago), he used homemade soap. Sweet memories, Thanks
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