Scent of Minerva

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Summer 2007,
Summer 2007
Original Images:

Author: George Ridenour

My second trip inside the museum was filled with anticipation. The afternoon was grey, cloudy, windy, and leaves were changing faster than cars zooming by on Huron Street. Fall was swirling toward the Winter season. My thoughts, turned as well, to the sighting in the window of the “Gray Lady” who we found to be Minerva Miles Dow.

I sat in the parlor near the fireplace. I was deafened by the silence of the house. The only other person in the house was a docent in another room. My nerves began to tingle as I fully expected someone or something to jump out and say “Boooooo!”

The sunroom seemed so inviting with the many plants and sunlight streaming through the windows that I decided to stand and watch the world go by. Stepping through the door I was engulfed in thoughts as I started at the speeding world coming toward me from Huron Street. Quiet. Even the plants seemed to be napping.

I wondered if Minerva, herself, had stood here and enjoyed the view. It was then that I became aware of a whiff of perfume. I looked around and found no plants in bloom, no flowers, no one cleaning (especially with two men in the house). I decided, though disabled, to make my way up the servant stairs to the upper floor where I had “seen” Minerva on my first visit to the grounds of the Archives and Museum. With difficulty I made it to the top landings and began to explore the various rooms. I was Alone. I heard the comforting voices, down below, of Lyle and another docent, my nerves and thoughts calmed by the presence below me.

I two of the rooms, I again, smelled the distinct scent of perfume. Again, I was Alone. While not filling me with fear I was relieved at the clomping of shoes on the hardwood floor as Lyle and the docent appeared on the stair landing. They, too, toured rooms and we entered the front of the building standing near the front windows. I leaned against the edge of the room used as a bedroom. Again, the strong scent of perfume from behind me! “Don't you guys smell that?” Lyle: “Smell what? I can't smell anything!” Docent: “Nope.”

Suddenly, the docent, eyes wide, exclaimed: “Wait, I smell it too. Strong odor of perfume,” We decided that perhaps we should move on to other parts of the house. We did while looks questioning my sanity burned into me from the “other two.” The docent said nary a word. Lyle just kept shaking his head.

How do you explain this smell with only men in the house? No one had been near me while I was in the house! Was it Pine Sol? Was it a gentle reminder of a 37 year old women who had died in the house and was welcoming the company of some “gentlemen?” I prefer to call it “A Scent of Minerva!” What's next?