My sister made brownies last night. This morning I was cutting one to put in my lunchbox and the smell took me back to long road trips as a kid. When we went on vacation – and I only remember a few big ones: Pigeon Forge,Tennessee, Orlando, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia – my mom would always make brownies and chocolate chip cake mix cookies. She’d put the cookies and brownies in a big square Tupperware container and when we’d get hungry on the road, we would open it up and the smell of brownies would fill the van. We would also get to have brownies for breakfast when we were on vacation, so that was pretty special. But the smell of brownies, to me, equals childhood vacations with my family in our big, ugly Ford Aerostar van. Those were fun times.
My light blue Smurfs lunchbox – yes, I carry my lunch in a lunchbox; it’s convenient and I paid a whopping $1 for it at a garage sale – also always takes me back, especially when I have an orange packed in it. An orange and a brownie! I think it takes me back to the movie The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I haven’t seen that movie in years, probably even in decades. Is there a scene in that movie where a kid has a light blue lunchbox with a brownie and an orange inside? Does anyone know? Maybe it’s a different movie, but I know I’ve seen this before and the image of a light blue lunch box with an orange and a brownie is easily conjured up in my mind.
Store bought pound cake and 12 ounce cans of coke take me back to my Memaw’s house. Memaw would always insist on giving everyone a cold can of coke with a straw. If she had pound cake in the house, which she often did, she would insist on sharing that as well, whether you were hungry or not. She usually had some kind of ice cream bar or popsicle in her freezer, too. She wasn’t big on cooking. In fact, I remember many of our childhood trips to visit Memaw ended with a stop at Wendy’s on the way home, but Memaw almost always had some kid friendly treats available.
Old school Nintendo takes me back to the summer after fourth grade when my parents bought one for us. We didn’t have a lot of games, but I remember playing a lot of Super Mario Brothers – the original and Super Mario Brothers 3. We would go to Jennifer & Johnathan’s house and play Contra or hook up their Power Pad and get some exercise. I remember Daddy went on a business trip once and brought us home a new game called Marble Madness. Then in college, a few friends and I somehow happened upon some old school Nintendo systems. We played Super Mario Brothers 3 well into the night at Jennifer Crosbie’s apartment while David Crowder Band played in the background. Janie somehow missed the Nintendo phase of the standard 80’s childhood, so it was fun watching her struggle through the original Super Mario Brothers while the rest of us could pass a level with our eyes closed.
Old country music from the early 90s takes me back to riding in the back of my dad’s truck on the back roads of Calhoun as he drove us to the ball park for our softball games. These rides often included friends of ours – Lynnette and Emily, Kristy and Ashly, Raeni, or Craig and Greg – and sometimes we would sing country songs, loud and off key, often making up our own lyrics. A lot of those trips in the back of Daddy’s truck were because Melissa, Craig, Greg, and I would ride our bikes to the ball park on a summer day, which I think was about five miles, and then we would stay until dark and would be too tired to ride home. At that point, one of us would head to the pay phone and call Daddy. Of course, Daddy didn’t want us riding bikes in the dark, so he would come pick the four of us and our bikes up and drive us back home.
Nostalgia is fun. I’m thankful that the vast majority of the things that take me back also make me smile. I know it’s not that way for everyone, so I am truly grateful.
Do y’all have any nostalgic items or foods that take you back and remind you of happy times?