The Maxwell House Coffee Alarm Clock

Reader Contribution by Arkansas Girl
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My family never owned an alarm clock, and I don’t think most rural families did. We had “natural” wake-me-uppers. Country folks usually wake up after the rooster crows or when the first speck of dawn kisses the morning sky. Actually, I think we have internal alarm clocks that never need to be reset; they never need to be re-wound, and best of all, they don’t have nor need rechargeable batteries.

My most fun waking-up mornings were when I spent nights with my grandparents. I slept in a room by myself with all three doors closed, so I was all boxed in, and one thing I always looked forward to when I slept over at Grandmother’s was breakfast the next morning. Actually, I spent my waking moments thinking about what I would eat for breakfast the next morning. That’s terrible, isn’t it, but unfortunately, that’s true.

All my life, it has been my custom to never miss breakfast, and my grandmother made the best breakfasts in the world, and every morning at her house was special, so I never wanted to oversleep. Of course, she wouldn’t have let me do that anyway, but I wanted to be sure I would be up and dressed in time for the early, morning feast. The kitchen was in the back of the house, but I guess scents can travel – even through closed doors. Well, in Grandma’s not so-insulated house, all the doors had wide cracks between them, so wood, unlike concrete, allowed every smell to seep through the holes and permeate every room in the house. Well, since my grandparents didn’t have an alarm clock, I awoke with the rooster crowing, but if it was too early to be up, I dozed back off to sleep, but still, I didn’t need anybody to awake me.

The next time I awoke, it was to the smell of a rich, hunger-inducing aroma drifting through the cold, winter air. It is amazing how that delicious fragrance danced all the way through the house, into my bedroom and right across my nose where the scent of Maxwell House coffee, like an alarm clock going off, tickled my nose. From that moment on, I was wide awake.

I loved the smell of rich, black coffee percolating in Grandma’s much-used little, brown pot. I never figured out how little bitty granules so small could smell so strong, but when a handful of those tiny, brown grains got to boiling in hot water, the aroma was piercing to the senses, and as soon as that aroma floated across my bed, it was just as effective as an alarm clock. Immediately, all the sleep left my body and I thought of the quickest way to wash up, dress and make a bee-line to the kitchen. The smells and thoughts of good food really gets your “move” on, and with all those delicious fumes coming from that tiny, little kitchen, it wasn’t long before I had joined the grandparents for another big, hearty country breakfast … coffee and all.


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