Thursday, March 11, 2010

overheard at the manor, a ghost post

I stash away all kinds of paper keepsakes; artsy cards, tickets from
treasured occasions, handwritten notes from dear friends, quirky
quotes ripped from magazines. There are boxes and boxes of my
precious ephemera, stuff anyone else would consider trash, tucked
into cubbyholes at the manor. Yes, my name is Willow and I am a
magpie. Or, maybe just a hopeless romantic? I know, you're
thinking pack rat, but I much prefer magpie.

Anyway, last week, I was sorting through one of my prized
collections and discovered several old paper perfume samples sealed
in cellophane, saved from my old retail days, some 30 years ago. I'm
not sure exactly why I kept them, but I don't always have a rhyme
or reason.

Just for fun, I tore open one of the packets of Nina Ricci's L'Air du
Temps, doubting any scent remained. Although, I never wore this
perfume, I was immediately transported back in time. It reminded
me of someone I knew. I'm not sure exactly who.

"Hey, they still smell! But different. Old and kinda mellow." I held
it out for WT to take a sniff.

"Gosh, it smells musty like the ghost perfume, I smelled again last
night, when I got up to pee."

Every so often, there is a strong scent of perfume in a certain spot
in the master bedroom at the manor, just between the door to the
bath and the bed. It's only detectable on occasion, late at night,
usually between 3:00 and 5:00, at times so powerful, it wakes me.
It's not a familiar scent, and it certainly isn't one I wear. It has a
uniquely aged, mellow quality, just like the old sample I opened,
yet deliciously pleasant, and mysterious.

Several years ago, a woman stopped by the house, and introduced
herself as being married to one of the grandsons of the elderly lady
who died at the manor. We invited her in and showed her around.
It had been years since she had been inside. Among many
fascinating things, she told us the master bedroom was once a guest
bedroom, and before it was remodeled in the late 1970's, there was
a hidden window seat, where the family cremation urns were kept.

This particular window would have been in the exact spot, just
between the door to the bath and the bed, where the unusual scent
often occurs, very late, in the still of the night.
For more posts on the ghosts of Willow Manor, click [HERE].


  1. Ahhh, samples. Perfume samples. I could tell several stories about those wicked little things. I shall tell probably the least pleasant. They are very useful when your dog goes outside and rolls in something unpleasant. Open a sample and rub on dog. Dog loves it probably as much as rolling in turkey poo. Doubt it would make a good ad.

    "Perfume, to a dog, as nice as turkey poo!"

  2. Some story Willow. At least It does't walk real loud. LOL Did you get a name?

    I used to save those purfume things and put them in my undie drawer. Loved this post...

  3. Well, Yvonne, yes, she does walk down the steps around the same time at night and can often be heard. She's frightened quite a few overnight visitos to the manor.

  4. A wonderful tale, and I completely believe you.
    Scents are one of the things that go straight to the emotions and skip the brain.
    How intreiging and strange.

    L'air du Temps - takes me back
    Je Reviens --another favorite of that period
    and do you remember
    Blue Grass --a big hit in the 60's?

  5. Wonderful story! And fragrance is one of the best things their is for joggling memory.

    I wore Chanel 22 for my wedding...

  6. Oh my gosh, I love it! I believe in what you are sensing, a possible earthly bound visitor. I too have a strange sense around the exact same time frame here at my house. Yet it is always near my children's room. I myself was going to post something on it as well.

    At times I feel it very strongly and then have to tell myself it is probably just imagination, but the feeling lingers. Nothing bad comes of it, so I allow it to just be and not give in to fear, just acceptance and that seems work. But how cool that you have someone who actually gave you pieces to the puzzle. I bet the magpie in you will treasure that knowledge always. Have a wonderful and peaceful evening!

  7. Great post - more like a short story than a blogpost!

    I remember one call Emeraude that my mother liked - I always thought it too strong and overpowering - except on Mom...

    I still love Muguet des bois - though I have not been able to find a source. Time to use electronic convenience to recapture a bit of finery.

  8. Patrice Emeraude was my favorite in collage years (mid 70s).

  9. The smell, of cold, moldy ashes reminds me of things seen around here. You are lucky the smell is good.

  10. I love ghost ephemeral, just like the paper bits.

  11. Willow,
    The hairs on my arms are standing up now! What a spellbinding tale. Scent has a way of connecting with emotions and memories - I'm instantly taken back to my childhood and memories of my mum when I smell -(or imagine, because I can conjure it up so well in my memory) - Tweed by Worth (I think).


  12. I love that story. Glad the smell (and presence) is friendly.

  13. A very intriguing post! I love how a particular scent can jog a memory and make it come alive.

  14. How sweet the memories! And those smells take us there so fast.

  15. Hey, at least it smells good. And is quiet. Do they still give out perfume samples? I haven't seen them in years. The last few years my allergies have taken over and I use fragrance free everything.

  16. I will never let an unfamiliar scent go unquestioned again.

  17. Willow, I remember the L'Aire du Temps so vividly, and Shalimar, too. I don't think I could wear that today.

    Great story telling - thank you!

  18. nice...i felt a chill there...stange smells and hiddn compartments for urns...nice.

  19. I don't have a keen sense of smell, so I don't know if I could notice this deliciously mellow smell. However, I too have a story to tell about the ghost of Willow Manor. Have a scently weekend, my dear and enjoy that blueberry pie. Take a picture and post it before the ghost has a chance to taste it. :) The Bach

  20. TechnoBabe, like I mentioned in one of the comments above, this particular ghost isn't always quiet. She walks the stairs at night, and has been heard, whispering, laughing and on one occasion let out a scream.

  21. Interesting. Love reading your ghost posts, Willow. And as a young girl I loved the scent of L'Air du Temps. When I grew up, I tried it on myself but the scent wasn't for me.

  22. Love the ghost stories and am not surprised at unusual smells, transported memories or spirits as it were... that happens around my house too. I should probably keep a journal about it to see if some type of pattern is apparent. You are probably already familiar with stories of the saints, relics and such often carrying the scent of roses.

  23. l'air du temps will always evoke my ma who loved that scent (one of the three staples in her stable of scents)

    i'm thinking the urns were not still there when you took possession of the manor?????

  24. Even though I know the story well, it's still deliciously creepy to read it here again! I wonder if the dear old lady ghost wore that scent. If you leave the old samples out, maybe she'll help herself!

  25. Dear Willow, You are going to have to write a novel on your ghost one day. I love these posts. xx

  26. L'Air du temps--that's like from high school days, loooooong ago! Amazing it's still got a scent! As for the ghost, sounds like the ghost might be my age, then! Good to have a perfumed ghost!

  27. Ohhh creepy! I lived wayyyy out in the country years ago many years ago and this house had to be 125 yrs old. It was Lodge SC. It was an old log home. The kitchen was seperated by a walk bridge. I used to hear the cabinets slamming shut in the mornings. The distinct sound mistaking it! Id run so fast thru the house but nothing! It was very creepy and my little girl would hear it too.....

  28. L'air du Temps was one of my favourites many moons ago; funny how your taste changes.

    Spooky tale, one of the many. I'll probably have a great dream tonight!

  29. Shiver down my spine. Interesting snippet about the cremation urns. I would not be happy if I was told that story about my bedroom.

  30. I know you are too young to remember the little glass pipettes that held perfume samples. They were popular in the 50's and 60's.

  31. Oooh, so interesting. And the intrigue of a scent lingering, especially one that you don't wear...

  32. I love the ease of how you handle the ghost/ghosts at the manor - this really is everyday stuff for you guys :)

  33. I DO believe, I DO believe, I DO believe...

    What a wonderful, mysterious post. I love it.

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  35. Willow,
    It's difficlt to deny the supernatural after one of your stories!

  36. Willow, why not make collages with all your souvenir papers. I usually do this with rubbish, bank notes, restaurant bills, etc, which I find in my suitcase after foreign holidays. Not a bad way of tidying-up either.

    A friend once told me that nasty smells were restless souls, and pleasant smells were from those who'd found peace. Not that I believe one word of it; but who knows....

    Bisou, Cro.

  37. Willow - believe it or not I sometimes smell my mother's perfume around and it is not one I use any longer (too expensive for me these days) - Joy by Jean Patou

    I have no doubt that your phantom smells are from a passing spirit.

  38. Everyone loves a good ghost story!

    Your ghost reminds me of Coco Chanel Whenever she went to her apartment on Rue Cambon, there were orders to spray Chanel No. 5 around the stairway so her signature scent would greet her. And she also felt perfume was important because it left a lingering fragrance after you left so people would remember you.


  39. An absorbing tale well told. Excellent.

  40. Ahhh scent memory and history. Great combination. I'm afraid my collections just smell musty.

  41. we love your blog so much we made it Blog Of The Day here:

    really enjoy your ghost posts!! x

  42. I do love your ghostly night time visitors dear Willow.

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  44. Donna, no, I'm not too young to remember those little pipettes. In fact, I have a few of them in my dresser drawer!

  45. Cro, my friend Leslie Avon Miller has inspired me to think about collaging, especially with all the delicious emphemera I have. I just need a little nudge to get started!

  46. That's eerie. Sounds (and smells) like the "L'Air du Temps" was well named.

    A perfume-sniffing magpie, now that's an image loaded with possibilities!

  47. I understand completely the 'transported back in time' power of aromas...the first year Gray Flannel was introduced on the scene I’d follow that scent into the subway just to be able to sit by a fellow who wore that cologne.
    I keep coming back to get the recipe, two posts ago, below.... so if your 'copy-right' alarm goes off it's just me coping it to desktop.

    Does it actually 'go off'?
    I'm wondering.
    Thanks, Jayne

  48. HH, a loud buzzer goes off and your name flashes in large orange letters across my screen.

    Nah, just kidding.

  49. that's amazing about the urns and even finding out about the urns was a major stroke of luck. smells certainly take us places, open our imagination, evoke the past. Who was it that kept a rotten apple in his desk drawer to inspire his writing???

  50. Don't be surprised that you captivated me! Ghost perfume exists nightly in my living room..I dare to walk in semi-darkness to adjust the blinds, the scent sits on the right side of the sofa..I just say hello, (Mom?).
    Thanks, always...

  51. Is that really a picture of your bedroom? I've always wanted to see more pics of the manor. I love your ghost story. We supposedly have a little girl in the back bedroom closet according to my son and daughter. I totally don't feel anything back there and I don't belive it, but the little kids do say some creepy things sometimes about things in the closet that give me pause.

  52. You're so lucky to have a ghost. I wish I had one in our house. Excellent post, Willow!

  53. Gosh I love the way you write.
    A while back I had an encounter with the scent of a cigar which prompted me to tell my hubby about my Mom's old boss who smoked big fat cigars, and used to kiss me on the cheek everytime he saw me. Nice man, but YUCKY cigar breath.
    Shortly after that I asked my Mom about him, and discovered that he had passed away a few weeks prior.
    Twilight music playing....

  54. Scents can definetley trigger many memories and I think they do linger from the past sometimes.
    I remember my own encounter with one of the Manor visitors in the middle of the night. Oddly, the memory isn't scary, but has a warm feeling. Tell her I send my regards : )

  55. Hello Willow,

    Considerate of your ghost to provide a pleasant smell for you. I noticed ewix mentioned 'Blue Grass'. My eldest sister used to wear that!

  56. Oh, the past events of my wilder years reappeared in my mind's eye with the mere mention of L'Air du Temps!
    You have quite a mix of evening entertainment over at the Manor...guests beware!

  57. Chantilly will take me back to my grandmother's house without fail.
    Scent is such a powerful memory, and I don't doubt your fragrant visitor for a moment.
    Far less pleasant was an elderly relative's house, where the ghostly scent of cigar sometimes showed up.
    I had that experience at a hotel in Culver City this past summer. I sat waiting in the lobby and suddenly got so choked by the smell of cigars that I had to move.
    There is no smoking in that hotel.
    But when my guy joined me, he smelled it, too.
    No open windows. No possible source.
    A quick check with the owner confirmed yes, indeed, there are reports of ghosts there. But he'd never heard anyone complain of cigars before.

  58. Kind of creepy, but fun. I love a good ghost story.

  59. I applaud and share your magpie tendency to save clippings, tickets, you name it. Sometime though some of it has to go and I am about to tackle the library any day now! I loved your ghost tale. L'air du Temps reminds me of a woman I knew maybe 40+ years who wore only that perfume. She was a secretary in the bulidng where I worked and rumor had her the mistress of the contractor for whom she worked....

  60. Naturally I love your ghost posts. This one is especially beautiful, so generous and kind and respectful.

    Ghosts do leave behind mustiness in all forms. In fact, after an encounter, often food tastes slightly moldy to me, sometimes for days afterwards.

    Many sweet regards to your lovely ghost and to you and your husband, such gracious hosts to her presence.

  61. Wow. Great story, Willow. My uncle said after my aunt died he could smell her perfume on rare occasions - just a wiff as he was walking by a certain area of their home.

  62. I am fascinated by this. My house is an old Victorian that had been used as a Hospice in its young age. Sometimes for no apparent reason the smoke detectors go off in the middle of the night. Once we even had the fire department show up saying that they had received a call regarding a fire.

  63. how about bower birds? they collect all sorts of baubles, rocks, shells, etc. I also tear out from magazines, newspapers etc and have folders full of stuff. but I don't have a ghost-- in my bedroom-- lucky you :-)

  64. Heard scents are located in the limbic part of the brain. Animals must go crazy with smells having 200X's the human nose. So ghosts can smell, huh. Sitting on a bench used for urns...sure the ghosts just love that!

  65. You are lucky that your friendly ghost didn't wear Brut 66 aftershave in their earthly life Willow!
    Millie ^_^

  66. I love your ghost stories!

    Ah, L'Air du Temps, my very first perfume because my lifelong (our mums were in labor together!) friend Jacqueline's Italian great aunt was Nina Ricci! She would visit her father's family in Italy each Summer as a teen and bring me little bottles of it!
    Wish I'd kept them to open now!

    Now for everyday I wear L'Occitane's Verveine(Verbena), and for evening Eliz. Arden's Red Door OR a dab of L'Air du Temps as I always have a bottle for reviving memories!

  67. Willow--Your bedroom looks so comfy. I can hardly believe that you have boxes of stuff piled around because it looks so empty and not cluttered AT ALL. (If you want to see crowded come over to my house!)You brought to mind (and so did your responders) names of perfume that I hadn't thought of in such a long time. I use Chanel #5 most often. Love how subtle it is.

  68. I've missed your stories - hopefully I'll be back soon. Emeraude was my mother's scent - my daughter keeps her old bottle. Whenever I fall asleep on the sofa - a strong scent wakes me --guess my ghost doesn't want me sleeping up there.

  69. Now I'm going to read more of your ghost stories!

    Smells often remind me of dates and places. People think I'm a bit nuts anyway, but when I smell something I'll sometimes say something like "Singapore. 1982, East Coast beach..." And of course they roll their eyes and say I'm crazy.

    Well, I am. Crazy. Just not stupid!!! LOL!

    BTW, Willow, have you ever read any of Jane Roberts' books??


  70. Dear Willow, How very intriguing this story of yours is. Scent is indeed a most powerful sense and one that so often brings one to recall events, people or places from the past. I find this particularly so with scents from the garden. Wherever I am in the world, the smell of box, Buxus, reminds me of England and English gardens.

    Like you, I have a tendency to hoard things - mostly mementos of friends and my travels.

    I have added myself to your staggering number of 'Followers' so as not to miss future postings.

  71. Rick, are you the one who recommended Jane Roberts' The Seth Material? I've got it ordered from the library. I'm intrigued!

  72. Angie I am intrigued by your smoke detectors and fire department call. It would be interesting to know if here was indeed a fire in the history of your house.

  73. i'm always enchanted by your willow manor ghost stories. scent is a big memory-evoker for me. i love it when i have one of those moments when you smell something and it is such a deja-vu moment that you close your eyes and savor it.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)