“Yardley Lavender is the chosen perfume of fashionable women everywhere. ” 1939
Although perfume is never an excuse not to bathe, at one time, many people also used a variety of scented products to feel fresh. Women had their scent. They would layer it by using soap, bath oil or cubes, powder, cologne/perfume. The scent would stay with them and their clothes between washes.
Some still love their cologne and scented personal products. Others ask that people use scent-free products when they visit, to respect the sensitivities of others. But in the days of Dickies From Gunton: Canadian Brothers in Two World Wars, you wouldn’t think of asking someone to go scent-free.
Among the classiest scents the boys remembered on the ladies were Yardley’s English Lavender, rose and jasmine too, and Channel No. 5.
Percy had his favourite personal scents as well. Old Spice, with its nautical themed labels reminiscent of the ships he would later paint by number, was his favourite. Introduced in the late 1930s, that original smell is still around today. From bath soap to shaving cream, after shave, cologne and talcum powder, he loved it. He’d perk up with a little shaving lotion well into his senior years.
He also loved the “manly” as it was advertised, smell of Irish Spring, the green deodorant soap that came along in the 1970s with its cheeky television commercials, and insisted on using it in his senior years.
Many scented products have been used for personal care of hair and bodies and environments over the years. While people felt fresh with certain scents, so did the house. Vinegar and water or ammonia meant clean windows. Bleach and the fresh scent of Pinesol meant the house was clean. Lysol killed germs.
The scent of Watkins Petro Carbo Salve and Dettol antiseptic meant someone was injured or sore. Vicks Vaporub meant someone was congested.
Today’s scented laundry soaps, candles, fragrance diffusers and air freshener sprays continue the tradition of pronounced scents someone like Percy may have loved, or not. But certainly, like many of us, he would have wondered if the scents indicated something was clean or if they might simply be covering up something that was not so pleasant.