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A 1953 Woody and the Scent of Old Spice

Talk about bringing back memories…

A few weeks ago we were down in Cayucos. California. Cayucos is on famous Route 1 in California. It’s about 20 minutes from Pismo Beach which is the most popular spot around the Central Coast.

For me, it’s Cayucos. My wife Patti took me there about two years ago and ever since then I have been in love with this sleepy town/city. We try to go as much as possible, but work, money and kids always seem to make the visits harder and longer in-between.

While we were there a few weeks ago, there was an old Buick Woody parked there. Beautiful car, and I was just in awe of the car and the shape it was in.

I spent a good 20 minutes looking and marvelling at the detail, and then remembering a long time ago as a kid and the Woody my Dad had.

And then the scent hit me.

All of a sudden while standing there a whiff of Old Spice cologne tickled my nose, and my brain went into overdrive with memories of my Mom and Dad in the front seat as we took trips to the beach whenever my Dad was home.

As I kept smelling the lingering scent of Old Spice, I had vivid memories of stuff I did with my Dad while driving in that car.

Not Sure About This Surfing Stuff?

The first real “man only” trip with my Dad was when he took me surfing. It was my first time, and he promised one day to teach me and today was that day.

We headed to Cape Cod in Massachusetts, out to the tip at Provincetown where the best waves were. The water was like ice, but we had wet suits. First time for that also.

He helped me get prepared, and I waxed my board like he taught me, and then we were off into the Atlantic ocean to wait for a wave.

When the right wave came along, my Dad yelled for me to start paddling like him. So I caught a glimpse of what he was doing and went to town.


I missed the wave, but he caught it and what a ride he had. All the way into shore. Then he paddled out again and this time he told me to stay close to him and do what he did.

So I did what he said and this time I caught the wave. He told me to stand up on the board and the next thing I knew I was being pummelled by waves from the ocean.

I think I drank enough salt water for the rest of my life.

He had no mercy. He made me climb aboard again and start over. I was just 10 when this was all going on, but he told me about kids that were five and six doing this in California.

I just looked at him and thought, “Good, let them.”

Well, the second time around I did better, and with every new wave I got better and better.

But that’s not what I want to write about.

Real Memories

This is about memories. My Dad was killed in 1981. That’s 34 years ago this coming September.

I remember the day we received visitors at the door to tell us about my Dad. My Mom, as soon as she saw the men, knew something was all wrong. She started to cry.

I heard what they were saying, but I would be lying if I told you I understood it all at that moment.

I remember months later actually remembering what was said, how it was said and the impact it had on me.

What I remember from that day was going into his closet to look at his clothes and smelling Old Spice on his casual shirts. I couldn’t believe they still had that scent on them.

My Dad was not a big wearer of cologne. He had his dress up cologne that my Mom bought him, but for the days when he and I would hang out when he was home it was Old Spice.

That’s what I will always remember.

Memories are the moments we keep hidden until we need them the most #pureblogging

The last day my Dad and I went for a ride in the Woody we were going fishing in New Hampshire. It was the perfect day.

He was going to be leaving for a trip that would not only take him away for a year or more, but it was going to be his retirement mission so to speak.

After this he was quitting everything and staying home to write a book.

The trip was fantastic and the car ran like a top as always. I couldn’t believe that at the end of 1979 that 1953 Woody was still riding like a champ.

That was the last ride for both of us that day. He left the following day for his mission. The car went into storage for when he came home.

He never did come home.

Instead, his body came home and I never could ride or look at that car again.

My Mom sold the car after I said I didn’t want it. I told her I couldn’t drive it or ride in it. I know, maybe that’s the easy way out, but I couldn’t do it.

I told her sell it, take the money and invest it in what she wants. I wanted nothing from that car.

What I did get was memories.

Every time I see a Woody driving around I think of the days with my Dad. Although, in all the time I have seen Woody’s, I never had the scent come with it until now.

I don’t know why now, but I will say I am thankful to which ghost or supreme being made that happen.

I needed a reminder this year of my Dad and this came at the right time, along with a purchase of some Old Spice cologne for those special days with the grandkids.

By Mark-John Clifford

Husband, Dad, Papa. Californian from Boston. Love the ocean and everything that goes along with it. Sicilian and Irish, inside and out.

Comments (12)
  1. Nancy Davis August 24, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Wow. That made me cry.

    I lost my dad in 2007, and I know all too well the power of seeing or smelling something can have. My dad had this gray sweater that he wore every day. It was folded up and put on a pedestal next to the casket. Most people knew what that was.

    I still can’t look at gray cardigans and not think of my dad.

    Nice post. Thanks.

    • Mark-John Clifford August 24, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Hi Nancy,

      Sorry for your loss. I understand that feeling of something special and what it means.

      Until the day of this memory I never really smelled the Old Spice. I don’t know if the smell was in the car or I was just imagining it, but it was so real.

      That’s never happened before with my Dad. With my Mom I remember when she first died I thought I would see her walking in other women who had the same hair style and about her age.

      It was kind of weird, but from that I understand after talking to a friend, normal. So that’s the only time that has ever happened.

      Be Well and thanks for reading

  2. Danny Brown August 24, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Hi there mate,

    Now THIS is what Pure Blogging is all about!

    Wonderful tale and memories. While not my father, I lost a very dear uncle when I was six years old. He was a soldier in the British army, and he was killed in an IRA ambush while on night patrol.

    It hit me hard. He was more of a father to me than the abusive asshole my mother was with at the time. On the second-to-last evening of his life, I was on a trip to the beach, and it wasn’t far from the ferry dock where my uncle would be coming in when his deployment was over. It had the salty air only the sea can provide, and the evening was a warm one, making the scent all the more biting.

    My uncle never came home. Now, anytime I’m at the sea, and the temperature is just right, it takes me back to that time as a six year old, who never realized he was saying goodbye.

    Thanks for a wonderful post, sir.

    • Mark-John Clifford August 24, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Hi Danny,

      Sorry to hear about your Uncle. I had an Uncle that was like my second Dad and when I lost him it was hard also.

      I find that these memories can be very hard to deal with some times. It always depends on the situation and the mood I am in at the time.

      I have been in other locales when these memories come to me, but this one was so strong and funny it was so long from the date of his death. That’s when I feel something is up and the memory is trying to tell me something.

      Thanks for giving me the opportunity to not only remember, but to write about that memory.

      • Danny Brown August 24, 2015 at 12:57 pm

        It’s definitely a sensory thing, for sure (or at least, they play a large part).

        I can watch a movie that may have meant something to me personally (the favourite movie for an ex and myself, for example), and it’s okay. Enter a sense, though – the taste of a meal, the scent of a perfume, etc – and that can open me up like a typhoon.

        Gotta love the human psyche…

        • Mark-John Clifford August 24, 2015 at 1:14 pm

          I never had this happen before, that was the weird thing. I’ve seen women that looked like my Mom after she died, but nothing with my Dad.

          I’ve had dreams, but until this day nothing else. I was almost relieved, like he decided to let me know all was okay?

          • Danny Brown August 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm

            That’s the beauty with memories, mate – sometimes it’s all we need at a given moment in time to make everything fine. The reality may be different, but for that moment we feel “at peace”. And that’s OK with me.

  3. Liz Scherer August 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    How wonderful that your dad stopped by for a short visit! Never doubt it. Or the fact that he will forever be, in one form or another.

    • Mark-John Clifford August 24, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      Hi Liz,
      I will say it was a nice feeling of warmth and joy. A little heartache at the same time, but all in all a great experience I hope to have more of.

  4. Krithika Rangaraan August 26, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    I shared this everyone – and will share it again! This is an EVOCATIVE piece – full of loss, love, light – and, yes, ultimately hope

    You might lose someone physically, but their ESSENCE never fades away. My mum often tells me that she sees her parents in her dreams. I scoff at her, but secretly cry! I MISS my Grampa and Gramma!

    Thank you for this brilliant piece, Mark #HUGSSS


    • Mark-John Clifford August 26, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Thank you Kit for all of the kind words. I wrote this piece after having this event happen after so long.

      It’s strange how all of a sudden this memory came to me and the scent. It even convinced me to go get a bottle of Old Spice for days when I am just hanging out like my Dad did.

      I explained this entire thing to my Step-Son Andrew who wondered why I was so upset that day at the beach. He couldn’t believe the feeling and sensations I had and asked if that would happen for him if I ever died? I was at a loss for words.

      • Krithika Rangaraan August 26, 2015 at 8:55 pm

        Aww…I am glad you have a wonderful relationship with your step-son! #HUGSSS

        Please keep writing…and gaining us a sneak peek into your relationships and your dreams. This is a safe writing haven and I am enjoying every post <3


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