I know where I am by what I smell. It is my conviction that my success rate would be at least 98 percent in such an experiment. The nose knows. Humans combine all five senses to understand the world.
So here is the experiment. You control the environment and destinations. I will acquiesce to being blindfolded and trust that you will lead me and be responsible for my safety.
At the first place we enter the first thing I smell is chocolate mixed with other kinds of candy mixed with a nut aroma. As we move through the building there is the smell of plastic, paper and paint. Next my prodigious nose detects the smell of rubber and cloth followed by wood. I know I am in Tresslar's Five and Dime Store in Worthington, circa 1956.
A short drive in the car brings us to the next stop. First I detect a strong smell of dirt mixed with a metallic scent tinged with leather. Plus there is a strong suggestion that something here has been in contact with horses. An aroma of burning charcoal or coke suggests that this is Gar Wells' blacksmith shop where he sharpens plow shears and repairs harness and works at heating and shaping metal by beating it with hammers.
At the next stop we enter a building that is not occupied every day because the air is different. The air has a presence that reveals that it is trapped inside. The air does not have fresh air introduced in high volume either through HVAC (heating ventilating and air conditioning) or open doors and windows. There is an aroma of varnished wood that has been cleaned with pine sol or Murphy's Oil Soap. The floors are wooden and have been mopped with a dry mop using either wax or cleaning fluids. We would be in the Nine Mile Church on Tuesday morning.
The air is heavy. There is an aroma of cloth and paint plus a mixture of detritus on the floor. It is obvious that many people are either in the space or have been revealed by the odors of perfume, powder and cologne. There is also the smell of a crowd -- people smell. Not unpleasant yet not entirely desirable. Floating over it all is the unmistakable, piquant aroma of hot buttered popcorn. We are in the Cine Theater in Linton.
Another trip in the car brings us to the next stop. The air is redolent with the smell of dust. I smell animals, cows, pigs, horses and chickens and the deposits that they deposit on the ground without regard for how it looks or smells. Mixed with that is the unmistakable odor of straw and sawdust. Then like a shepherd's crook another aroma reaches out and tugs on my nose drawing me along like a magnet -- deep fat fried foods. It is clear to me that I am at the Four-H Fair in Linton.
The data is in and I have scored 100. No contest.
Larry Vandeventer grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656. Write him at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.