Last night I was reading and ran across a line wherein the narrator mentioned how children in the South frequently refer to the grandfathers as Papaw (pronounced either Pa-paw or Paw-paw, I did the latter.) Though my grandfather has now been gone for over a decade, I spontaneously burst into tears. Grief is funny like that. You walk around, every day, not know you have a hole in your heart, until you run smack into it all the sudden. Then it just overwhelms you, and like the surf you have to roll with it or get sucked under. Then the tide of it goes out again and you can move on.
One of the strongest memories I have of my Papaw was of him taking me to our family beach house down in Crystal Beach, Texas. That house, and the memories I have from there, are one of the most precious things I possess in my life. I remember being well and truly loved and happy in there, in way I don’t remember happening anywhere else where I grew up. Passing all the azaleas on the freeway down to Galveston, waiting in line to ride the ferry across to the tip of Bolivar Penninsula, spending all day at the beach and then getting hamburgers and ice cream for dinner on the way to the water slide, which for the kids in the family substituted for a post-ocean shower since the house only had one for all the adults to share.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Crystal Beach. In fact, it’s been about eight years. But the love I feel for that place it like a mild hunger that never leaves me. I’ve always thought that if the good Lord saw fit to make me fabulously wealthy overnight, I’d buy a place down there of my very own. So you can imagine my surprise at trying on CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966 and finding out someone managed to bottle my lovely memories into a scent I can carry around with me.
Christopher Brosius, who I can never say enough good things about, describes At the Beach 1966 as follows:
Imagine it's about 4 o'clock on a golden summer afternoon and you've been at the beach all day rubbing yourself with Coppertone suntan lotion – but Coppertone as it existed in the 60's, not quite as it is now... You walk into the surf as the waves break on the shore and, bending down to touch the surf, you notice the smell of your warm skin and of the salt water that seems so cold by comparison. It has just the faintest hint of watermelon rind!This description, in my view, is dead on the money. On me I smell suntan lotion, warm leather car seats, sand and sweet sweat. It is exactly the scent I remember from going to Crystal Beach every summer, going so frequently that I remember going to Crystal Beach before I was able to form memories of going. For those of you who think you hate aquatics because no one ever gets them right, give this one a try. I promise it won’t disappoint. I'd differentiate this from Annick Goutal's Songes as the different between day and night of the same exact day. If At The Beach 1966 is day time with the family, then Songes is the evening dates along the Galveston Sea Wall with high school boyfriends. At The Beach 1966 feels like a nice fragrance for the day, whereas I associate the sweet sultriness of Songes with night time visits to the beach. Both lovely experiences, but different in form and fragrance.
The prime note in this scent is Coppertone 1967 blended with a new accord I created especially for this perfume – North Atlantic. The base of the scent contains a bit of Wet Sand, Seashell, Driftwood and just a hint of Boardwalk. The effect when you wear At The Beach 1966 is as if you've been swimming all day in the ocean.
Crystal Beach was just about plum wiped out last year by a hurricane, but somehow our little house managed to weather the storm still in one piece. Lots of others weren’t so lucky. I don’t know that the community as I remember it will ever return. Certainly a lot of the places that we went as a family, a family that really doesn’t exist anymore, are just as gone as the people I loved.
They say that olfactory memory is the strongest. To be given the ability to pull oneself back to a simple and sweet time in one’s life in an instant is a remarkable gift. At the Beach 1966 does that for me. As Marina at Perfume Smellin’ Things, writes so aptly in her review, “I can see these being the ultimate comfort scent: if I was ever seriously depressed, these memories of perfect childhood would perk me up better than Atavan...” I totally agree. And for that, even if I ignored all the other wonderful and unique scents CB has brought us, I will be eternally grateful.
Where the wind is for blowin' up hurricanes for showin'
The snakes how to swim and the trees how to lean...
- Guy Clark, "South Coast of Texas"
CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966 is available direct here.
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