Friday, July 17, 2015
I’m back from Chicago. I did the podcast interview with Marly Bird, signed books at a couple of bookstore, and got quite a bit done on SEAMS LIKE MURDER. I brought the Worry Doll along and I took some group shots of her with her Chicago cousins. I had expected to be sweating and huddled in front of the window air conditioner in the dining room, but the weather was a complete surprise.
The news kept displaying record lows and highs for the day and I saw that in 1995 it had been around 100 (with humidity) for a number of days. That summer a lot of people died from the heat spell. It was hard to imagine that kind of heat when the temperatures were mostly in the 70s while I was there. I didn’t even turn a fan on.
I went downtown twice. I decided to apply for the TSA pre check thing and needed to get some documents and go to an appointment to get fingerprinted and such. American Airlines has been giving it to me at their whim and I’m spoiled by the times I’ve gotten it and I didn’t have to take off my shoes, scarf and jacket or pull out my computer.
The weather made my trips downtown even more pleasurable. I met an old friend for lunch. When I say old friend, I mean really old friend. We met when I was two and she was having her fifth birthday party. There is a photo of me wearing a paper hat and her in a cowgirl outfit. It is great to have old friends because they can verify your history. For example, I remembered that we had a phone that we had to put coins in. I still have the “nickel” jar we kept them in. My brother who is two and a half years older than me has no memory of it and seemed to think I was nuts. Penny, however, verified it was true.
I loved the busy streets and all the stores, though it’s a lot different than the old days when State Street had one big department store after another. Macy’s formerly Marshall Fields is the only reminder of those department store. It is a grand store that takes up the whole square of a block and has a big selection of everything. I was walking through the cosmetic department and stopped at the Elizabeth Arden counter. I get these catalogs from a company called Vermont Country Store and they feature a lot of old time products, including a number of perfumes. The funny thing is, when I look at the catalog entries, I can smell them in my mind. One of the perfumes they feature is called Blue Grass and is put out by Elizabeth Arden. I can still remember the bottle of it I had with it’s interesting indentation on the side. So, as I was passing the Elizabeth Arden section at Macy’s I went in to see if they had a tester. They did, but it was hidden away in a drawer. The clerk sprayed some on me and I went to take my memory lane whiff, when something odd happened. It didn’t smell at all like I remembered. Was I wrong about the scent? I thought maybe I had to let it sit for a bit and walked away sniffing at my wrist every few minutes. Once for a couple of seconds was there a hint of the fragrance I remembered. And then the whole smell of it vanished. I mean, totally vanished. My wrist smelled like, just my wrist.
At times like this, the Internet really comes in handy. I started googling Blue Grass perfume and found out that I wasn’t nuts, nor did I have a faulty memory. They reformulated the perfume - I’m assuming that means they found cheaper substitutes for whatever they used to use. Other people had said the same thing about getting a brief hint of the former fragrance and that the scent didn’t last on your body. I had hoped to buy a bottle so I could smell it in real life, but it looks like I will have to be content to only have it in my memory.
If you want a look at the grandeur of old time Chicago, all you have to do is go up to the lobby at the Palmer House. I am still wowed by the decorated ceiling and a lobby that really is a lobby. I have to admit I went in to use their bathroom. Also very nice.
It was a very nice trip.