Her house was enormous and was on the northwest corner of Oak and Seventh. It was one of those homes built during the early days of Eunice and must’ve been four or five feet off the ground. To the best of my memory, the house was all gray, as it had never been painted and the house had weathered to that color.
She cooked lunches for the teachers at both schools across the streets, as they did at the Bobcat Nest. There was no lunchroom in those days and kids brought their lunches. Teachers ate here.
In addition to the teachers’ lunches, Mrs. Finley also sold penny candies and cookies as well as frozen treats. They were sold from her screened-in back porch and you had to climb steep stairs to get up there.
The most endearing memory of all is the smell around the stairs. It was a cross between strawberry popscicles and sweet soap. The smell has stayed with me all these years.
It wasn’t until decades later that I came across Sweet Olive trees in bloom and realized that this was the smell I rememberd from childhood. I planted about a dozen of them and they have never let me down.
They are evergreen and three or four times a years they flower and again, that same delicious smell.
They are finishing their bloom right now and I’ve had quite a few people ask me what they were.
Years after I planted them, I found this old talcum-like tin in New Orleans that originally held Sweet Olive powder. It was put out by the LaValliere Company in New Orleans, a company that also bottled perfume. The tin states that ‘sweet olive is a modest flower, chosen by Nature to hold her daintiest, most alluring perfume’.
The tin has a polished brass top and is dated May 27, 1913. The flower pictured around the tin is an exact depiction of the flower. One can only wish that some of the original powder was still in the tin.
At least I have my trees, if only for a few weeks a year.