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Ghostly Smells: Smells of a Summer Night


by Art Myers

People are constantly talking about seeing ghosts. They rarely speak of hearing them, or touching them, or smelling them. But you can do all those things, according to people I’ve talked with. Let’s stick with smelling, for this lesson.

I once interviewed a nice old couple – both in their young 80s – who lived in a Revolutionary War vintage house in a town called Templeton, about 40 miles west of Boston. His name was Al and hers was Adeline. There were a lot of interesting things about that house. One of them was ghostly smells. The smells that predominated were baking bread and lilacs.

The folks were in complete agreement about the baking bread. That smell came from the kitchen. They were slightly at odds on the lilacs. In my book “The Ghostly Gazetteer” I quote them as follows:

“We smell lilacs in the den,” Adeline said.

“You mean in the kitchen,” Al said.

Adeline smiled. “Well, they’re supposed to be in the den.”

I myself once became aware of what I’m pretty sure was a ghostly smell. My closest friend, Ginny Cutler, died almost four years ago. For awhile she was apparently around me a lot, telling mediums all sorts of things that were true but that the mediums had no way of knowing. These were often things that I too had no way of knowing at the times of the psychics’ readings. Such as that somebody had cut down the big rose bush in front of Ginny’s house, and was she pissed! But in one of these encounters, I didn’t need a medium, I did it by myself. It involved a smell – the smell of cigarettes.

Ginny was a very smart lady, but like a lot of smart people, she smoked cigarettes by the multiple pack. She died of emphysema. About a year ago, I woke up one summer night and had to go to the john. As I struggled out of bed, I was aware of the pervading odor of cigarette smoke. I decided to wait and see if I smelled it on the way back from the john, when presumably I would be relatively awake. The smell was still there on the trip back.

I live on an upper floor of a high-rise apartment house that is very well insulated. You are never aware of smells or sounds from other apartments. And in fact, I’ve never seen anyone smoking in the building. Most of the occupants are elderly, and I guess they’re not interested in hurrying things along to the next world by smoking.

But that smell of cigarette smoke was unmistakable. As I settled back in bed and closed my eyes, I said, “Hi, Ginny.”

I think the first smell I ran into in my career as a ghost writer was up in Maine, and the smell was chocolate. I had received the tip from a friend of the owner of the house, so I called.

The owner of the house, a lady, was most forthcoming. Yes, she said, she’d lived here a few years and had for some time been aware of a strong smell of chocolate. She’d been there awhile before she found out that a former owner was crazy about chocolate. I don’t know if he made it or not, but he sure ate a lot of it, according to local legend.

After the current owner had confirmed the story and had given me some of the particulars, I asked her if I could turn on my tape recorder. The conversation went like this:

“Tape recorder? What for?”

“Well, I wanted to put the story in this book I’m writing, and I want to make sure I get the facts right.”

“Book? I don’t want this to be in a book?”

“Why not? I thought that was why we were having this conversation. Why should you object to its being in a book?

“Well, I don’t think it would be fair.”

“Not fair? Not fair to who?”

“To the ghost. It’s kind of an invasion of privacy.”

That was a new one to me. She did agree that I could use it if I would just mention it in passing, and not give her name, so I agreed to that and put it in the Introduction to my book “The Ghostly Register.”

Buy the Book In May 1997 Contemporary Books published his new book on communicating with the animals in our lives – and with nature. “Communicating with Animals: the Spiritual Connection Between People and Animals” is both inspired and inspirational – a must read for any animal-lover, pet owner, or anyone on the quest for higher consciousness.

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