This week, I brought a memory-retrieval kit to Writing Our Memories class. Knowing that scent is a powerful memory trigger, I placed on our meeting table: Kiwi Shoe Polish, Ivory Soap, Vicks Vap-O-Rub, a bottle of Virginia Hyacinth essential oil, a bottle of ground ginger, a cedar box. These ordinary household items did the trick in unlocking new memories for these octegenarians. They passed the objects around, smelling old familiar smells, capturing thoughts on paper.
You can assemble your own memory-retrieval kit by making the rounds of your house and selecting strong-smelling things you had around you in younger years. Make a list of impressions and images - even sounds - the scents call up. (Vicks made me think quiet. In bed slathered with medicine in a quiet house while everyone else was at school or work.)
Who nose - er - knows - what you'll come up with.