Thursday, January 10, 2013

How An Unexpected Aroma Can Trigger Nostalgia - Smelling the Donuts

I just had an experience that I feel led to share with readers of The White Rhino Report.  My office at Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Kendall Square, Cambridge, is in a building that houses over 400 start-up companies.  It also houses, on the ground floor, a Dunkin' Donuts.  Tenants of the building and delivery personnel can gain access to the store through a little-known back entrance that you arrive at after weaving your way down a narrow corridor.  I do not often use that entrance, but today I chose to do so.  As I opened the door and made my way down the corridor, I was overwhelmed with the rich aroma of fresh donuts.  In a nano-second, I was transported back to my boyhood on Purchase Street in  the South End of Newburyport, Massachusetts.  We lived at number 31 Purchase St (actually 31 1/2, but that is a story for another time).  45 Purchase Street was the address of Hicks Bakery.  Each morning, all of the denizens of that part of Joppa would awaken to the breeze blowing off of the Merrimac River - redolent of both the bouquet of low tide on the clam flats and the yeasty smell of fresh bread and donuts.

I had friends and neighbors whose parents either worked at the bakery or owned the business, so I was able to make frequent forays into the back end of the shop where all the hard work was done.  It was heaven.  I still recall the wonder  that I felt the day that I was introduced to the machine that injected the jelly into the jelly donuts.  I felt as if I were in Oz peering behind the Wizard's curtain.

So strong was the wave of nostalgia that hit me this morning at Dunkin' Donuts that after finishing my coffee (French vanilla) and donut (Boston cream), I returned to my desk and did a Goggle search of "Hicks Bakery."

If you would like to remember with me those halcyon days when the Boston & Maine spur track ran through the heart of the South End - and through my back yard - enjoy this article from 2007 that I found in by Ulrike G. Gerth. article about the South End ofNewburyport

A view of Purchase Street, featuring the late Bill Sayward, long-time baker at Hicks'  He and his family lived next door to the bakery.

Ah, the sweet aroma of memory.



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