Aromatic Ancestry

When I think about a perfume that is familiar to me, I often have an image in mind of the kind of women it embodies. My tastes range pretty wide, and it makes sense; each fragrance in my collection speaks to a different aspect of my personality.

Patchouli, vetiver, and other earthy scents unfold a vision of my mother: athletic, adventurous, and a little wild.

Shalimar, my mother’s mother, who I’ve talked about often enough here.

Chanel No. 5: pretty, slim, blonde, and knows the meaning of “investment portfolio.”

On my recent vacation at the Oregon coast, my husband and I were able to spend a couple days with my paternal grandparents, who reside in Waldport, Oregon, another coastal town about 30 minutes south of Newport (where we stayed). On one of these visits to Waldport, I asked my grandmother, as it has become my habit to do, “what perfume do you wear?”

While her glory days are long past, Joan Killingstad remains a natural blonde with violently blue eyes. She never smoked, raised eight children without complaint, and is renown—in our family anyway—for her financial prowess.

She was, and is, a Chanel No. 5 woman.

Above image is Joan Killingstad and Charles Nichols (grandpa) around 1956.


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