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Oct10TueRetrospective #27 October 10, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
When we were kids attending the adult (to differentiate between senior and junior or YP) Sunday meetings, it was sometimes difficult to sit still and really attend to what was going on. Lacking the knowledge and experience to contain ourselves we often resorted to simple antics or games. Nowadays kids have the latest in cell phones, tablets, watches, gaming devices and whatever else the market convinces us we must have and in many cases these end up at the meeting!
Again in our day one did not eat in church, except at special fund raisers or celebratory festivities held in the YP Hall, whereas today we’ve gone from cheerios in a small cup to three course dinners and a movie!
Of course I do remember how at times there was evidence suggesting the presence of a food-like substance in the room. This morsel had an unmistakable odour that wafted through a radius of perhaps a ten foot circle. Initially this tiny tidbit was known only to the adults it seems as they were often the first ones to bring and devour them. I’m not sure, but I don’t think one was required to say a grace before eating nor were you required to have eating utensils or a napkin, even though if not careful you could have a spill that would result in an ugly stain!
Methinks the first time I was privileged to gobble up one of these particles was when I sat with my Grandmother (or maybe it was with my Dad) in a Sunday night meeting. I stumbled upon the source of this treat quite by accident. Being bored and disconnected form the Captain’s talking I gently (the paper was scarily thin!) began leafing through my Nan’s (or Dad’s) SA Songbook. Suddenly there they were, tucked neatly between the pages where they fold at the binding. There were five, maybe six minuscule, thin, black squares. My first thought was to dump the dirt on the floor, wondering how it got there in the first place, but before I could do that - invisible licorice tentacles reached up and tickled my nose. I knew these specks weren’t dirt after all. Eureka! So that’s where that smell came from. I had discovered the potent, magic fragments!
That’s when I realized I’d been caught in the act - my Grandmother (or Dad) was watching me but instead of scolding me she/he gently showed me how to avail of the petite treasure. Discreetly wetting the top of her/his finger (“mister pointer”) she/he dabbed one of the bits. It seemed to magically disappear until I saw it now stuck to the end of that finger. She/he motioned for me to do the same so I did. Again, with great tact, she/he quickly placed the speck in her/his mouth, while likewise indicating that I should do the same. So I did! Whoa! The top of my tongue was on fire and yet the taste said I should not spit it out! It was my first experience with “Sen-Sens!” (I later learned some of my friends called them “Sin-Sins!”)
Sen-Sen was a type of breath freshener originally marketed as a "breath perfume" in the late 19th century by the T. B. Dunn Company and then produced by F&F Foods until the product's discontinuation in July 2013. Sen-Sens were available in small packets or cardboard boxes. Similar to a matchbox of the time, an inner box slid out from a cardboard sleeve revealing a small hole from which the tiny Sen-Sen squares would fall when the box was shaken. Sen-Sen's ingredients were licorice, gum arabic, maltodextrin, sugar, and natural and artificial flavors.
By the time the meeting came to a close I had devoured all the Sen-Sens I could find in that Songbook. (When I got home and looked in the mirror I could see that the top of my tongue had turned black and was actually a little numb.) It was time to go but I promised myself that whenever an opportunity came along it would be a good idea to help distribute and/or collect the Songbooks! Just to be helpful of course!
Do you suppose some folk hid them in their Bibles too?
Hey, I just realized that we have several boxes of older SA Songbooks here. Do you suppose I’d find any remnants if I were to look?