Do You Have A Memory Linked To A Smell?

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Prompt: Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

Today is day 16 of the WordPress #Bloganuary challenge.

The Fitting Room

1227 3rd Ave Huntington WV -that number will forever be filed in the valley of the echoes of my mind. I always just called it The Shop! It was the location of my dad’s orthotics and prosthetics business and I spent nearly as much time there as I did at home. My mom worked in the front office, took care of the orthopedic shoe fittings, and handled most of the bra and breast prosthesis fittings. The Shop was my home away from home and I loved it there.

The fitting room at The Shop was used for a number of different things. It was the private setting where my dad would talk at length with his patients, the room where the plaster was wrapped to form a mold, and where the final fitting took place.

I was often the one man clean up crew after the wrap of the plaster was made. Using a stainless steel bucket -containing around 3 gallons of hot water, my dad would submerge a roll of plaster into that bucket. The thick white droplets scattered the floor as he wrapped the end of the severed limb. As time passed, the plaster would warm and harden then produce a smell that lingered in that little private room. I go back to that space within The Shop anytime someone has had a broken bone set and wrapped in a cast to heal.

The Bench

Heading towards the back -leaving the front office and the voice of my mom telling me to behave, the fitting room was on the left and the main work area was to the right but had an open pathway towards a swinging door. Beyond the door was the very back of The Shop where the loud machinery was housed. The workbench in the main working area was large -two benches made into one. Beneath the oversized bench were rolls of fresh hide leather. This space had its very own unique smell altogether. The leather was used for making T-Straps, belts, and other forms of connecting devices.

Things were made from scratch on a rugged old sewing machine sitting in the corner and brought to the bench for completion. It was the area where I would stand in the shadow of my dad and drink an always-available cold Coke from a mini glass bottle.

The Sutton

An open area that accommodated a bench, plaster/forming area, and machinery from Fillauer, Sutton, and others was situated at the very back of the building. A furnace room with a tub sink, a separate bathroom, and an exterior door with a horizontal push-down bar, was located to the right of the open space where the noise was made.

The mini coke bottles were delivered to The Shop in wooden crates. The crates were stored in the back with the loud machinery and nearby the Sutton for my riser. My dad would often turn a couple of the crates upside down and place them at the front base of the Sutton. I would stand on those Coke crates sanding and polishing metal that was used for KAFO leg braces.

Leg Braces Worn by Franklin Delano Roosevelt - FDR Presidential Library & Museum - Hyde Park - New York - USA (6932471638)

KAFO Leg Braces Worn by Franklin D. Roosevelt

The aroma of mixtures within this space still fills my sense of smell today. Burnt metal cinders, shoe shine compound, and that tub sink in the furnace room all catch me off guard at times.
The plaster wrap from the fitting room was placed into a jig with a metal pipe held dead center. It was filled with plaster of Paris and it bonded to the metal tube. From there the plaster cast was removed giving my dad a solid form of the limb to work with. After shaping and molding to the minuscule of detail -the solid form would make its way to the next and near-final stop of The Shop for resin laminating.

Ottobock Prosthetic Lamination

I Can Smell That Resin Right Now!

The Fixer

I hope to someday share a space with my kids like my dad with me. I want to create a darkroom where we can share the smell of the fixer bringing our images to life.


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