Thursday, March 29, 2012

The smells of New York.

This morning was one of those perfect Spring days that occur all too rarely. There was a bit of bite still in the air, a fair breeze and a light blue sky punctuated by billows.

As I do on Thursday mornings, I walked across Central Park, from East to West and tried to focus on the world without the ever-encroaching bullshit of work. These days I suspect Cindy Crawford could walk naked in front of most people and they would barely look up from their handhelds. The world--in the form of ever-present screens--is too much with us.

This morning there was the pink aroma of flowers and blooming trees in the park. Smells are odd in the city. They are seldom subtle. They have to be strong to be noticed. A thousand pounds of garlic being wok-fried at Szechuan kitchen. The greasy smell of asphalt and tar being laid. The acrid stench of hotdogs and horse shit down by the Plaza.

But today, we had flowers.

When my brother was a teenager, he had a summer job as a toll collector in the Bronx not far from the Stella D'Oro bakeries. There he would make his change and collect his quarters and smell their anisette cookies, their bread sticks and their various biscotti. The smell of the ancient factory permeated the Kingsbridge neighborhood.

Those smells are gone now. The big Stella D'Oro sign that towered over the Major Deegan Expressway has been painted over. The bakery was sold to various conglomerates through the years and eventually the Bronx plant was closed and operations were moved to Jersey.

There was quite a lot of rancor when Stella D'Oro closed. Union workers in the Bronx being replaced by non-union workers in Jersey.

The landscape when I was growing up was dotted with Stella D'Oro trucks. And the air-waves were rife with radio commercials with the lilting Stella D'Oro jingle. "There's a place in your day for Stella D'Oro."

That's all gone now.

Like a pleasant smell blown away by the wind.

1 comment:

Tore Claesson said...

it's all out here in New Jersey nowadays.