You Otter Bring Joy to Others
May 25, 2017
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Salve for the soul

OTC preparation, Dermassage Medicated Skin Lotion. 1985.0481.043.

Summer has always been my favorite season.  From my earliest memories, I can recall the great anticipation I felt waiting for school to end and summer to begin.  It was the Midwest where winters were brutal, spring felt truly like being reborn and summer sunshine was the balm that healed all. There are sounds and smells that bring me right back to those moments in time.  The smell of Dermassage that my mom rubbed on my tender skin to take the sting out of sunburn was so comforting.  And ever once in a while I catch a whiff of a fresh minty scent that brings the vivid memories flooding back.

Am I aging myself to admit that the photo of Dermassage shown here is from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History?   As far as I can tell, the product, which was made by the S.M. Edison Chemical Company right in my hometown of Chicago, was discontinued in the late 1960s and no one picked up the patent. The National Museum of Natural History website reports that Dermassage was described by the manufacturer as  “ A soothing, cooling, non-alcoolic skin refreshant and emolient for body massage.”   These were the days long before spell check and three typos in the description doesn’t make me think any less fondly of this comforting joy juice. Ingredients included olive oil, lanolin and menthol.  A slice of summer heaven was a thick layer of Dermassage on my warm skin while sprawled out on the crisp percale sheets of my twin bed (I was much smaller then) with the whir of the dining room window fan lulling me to sleep.  Aaah…summer memories.

It’s shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that as soon as I saw an opportunity to flee the bitter winters, I relocated to the land of endless summer.  And while Dermassage can no longer be a source of comfort, I hold the memory close and the purr of the air conditioner brings a sigh of satisfaction when I settle into my California King to sleep here in beautiful Florida.

Happily, I’ve found that many northerners have joined me here in the land of palm trees and warm coastal breezes and most have powerful memories of their lives living elsewhere. Many of their memories are connected with possessions that belonged to their parents, grandparents, former neighbors, or friends.  It’s hard to let go of the possession because the fear is that the memory will go with it.  Memories are not in the possessions or in the bottle of soothing cooling emollient no longer available for sale.  They live in our hearts and minds.  Memories are the salve for the soul. Healing restorative memories that bring smiles to our faces and the feeling of “aaah” are with us always.

Is there a song or scent that brings you back to a happy moment in time?