Blogiversary: 10/2/2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gun Powder and Cigarettes

Certain odors remind me of my father, Thomas James Arcala Sr., particularly the scent of a well-greased garage and cigarettes mixed together, or the distinctive smell of gun powder.  Dad spent many evenings and weekends in his garage when I was a child.  His garage was his workshop, where he reloaded bullets, and it smelled like WD-40 or car oil.

Every so often, we would take a trip out to the mountains or desert and would look for spent shell casings.  The ones he wanted were .22 calibur, .38 calibur, and .30-30 casings.  Sometimes, we'd find the actual melted bullet, shaped like a mushroom, also called a "mushroom."  I would run around the mountains, in his view, find a shell casing, run back to my dad and ask, "Is this one a good one?"  To which, he'd usually say, "Yes," and open his bullet bag, and let me drop it in.  Sometimes, I'd find a strange casing and he'd say, "No, that's a Russian."

When I was bored, or I just wanted to be near my dad, I would go to his garage, while he was either listening to the news or football and watch him measure gun powder, put it into a shell casing, and then put it onto the reloading press.  To some, it may seem a bit macabre.  For my dad, it was a hobby and work.  For me, it was bonding time.  If my dad wanted reloading to go faster, he would have me pull the handle on the press while he prepared the next bullet to be pressed.

My dad would take a smoke break, so he could get up and stretch and have a breath outside.  When he was done reloading, he would sweep the garage floor of any residues, while in his socks and camouflage sandals, and then carry the scent of gun powder and cigarettes back into the house with him.  

It's rare when I come across those smells together, and it's not a great odor, but it's an odor that brings back fond memories of bonding with my father.

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