I recently gave a seminar on memoir at a public library in Talladega, Alabama. To emphasize the importance of place in all good storytelling, I asked the audience to write a paragraph describing a room they remembered from childhood. They were to begin by remembering something very concrete: how that room smelled.
“Unguentine!” said the woman who volunteered to read first. “Oh, you all are probably too young to know what Unguentine is.”
“Lord, I remember,” said somebody else. “Yellow stuff. Used to treat burns.”