Remember When

Drawing of a self-service store.
Image via Wikipedia
Remember when you were a kid, all those old candies in the local store.  You know the ones you used to go to the candy counter and stare longingly at.  I found a new site, well to give credit where credit is due, Blinda found a new site.  She then made the mistake of showing it to me. The Retro Candy Store, is a site where you can find some of those old candies, and order them.

It is fond memories I have of visiting the local Mercantile on Front Street, long since closed and gone.  We would go in with Mom or Dad, and run over to the candy isle while they went shopping to get what ever they needed.   The candy isle was fairly long, and full of all kinds of goodies.  The store keeper, I can’t remember her name to save my life, would always have some old gum or other candy she would give us for free.  My favorite was a black licorice tasting gum, that had a pirate of the package, I think it was called Black Jack.  The free gum was always hard, and broke as soon as you started chewing.  That did not mater to us, it was free candy.

The Mercantile was one of those stores where you could buy anything.  They had it all, a little groceries, a little hardware, some clothing, some toys, and of course the candy.  We had two stores in town like this, but it was the Mercantile I loved to go to.  There was something about the feel of that small town store that just welcomed you.  The smells of all the different products, leather, spice, candies and so on.  Of course as soon as you walked in  the store keeper would welcome you by name, and ask how you were doing.  I often wondered how she kept track of all the kids names.

I also remember running around town picking up soda bottles.  We would collect up as many as we could find, and take them to store where we got  5 cents for each.  Then we had money to buy what ever candy or soda we wanted.  Of course it was best to go to the gas station across the street and buy soda out of the machine for 15 cents, and candy bars were a dime. 

Such fond memories, of times long past.  I wish there were stores like that still around.   The old penny candy stores and things like that are sadly gone forever.
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soulMerlin said...

That was a lovely read. Thank you Eric. I have so many memories of my childhood and sweetshops with little weights on the scales. It was still war time food rationing - well nearly everything was rationed. We had two coupons a week for sweets. That meant a quarter of liquorice allsorts and two ounces of mint imperials.

It seems so long ago and 'not me' somehow.


Eric S. said...

Henry, that was way before my time, but the way you describe it sounds like one of those old movies.

Mother talks about rationing in her memoirs, but I never experienced any of it. I'm sure it was unusual as a kid, making sense of the reasons.

redchair said...

Hi Eric,
Cool new look to your site.
Love this candy site and my childhood memories just flooded back reading your story.

My Uncle had a Soda and Pharmacy Store in the deep south. Walking through the door it looked just like one of those old 50’s soda shops. Speaking of which, that’s a good idea for a painting. This candy shop is also a great idea for a painting. (I’m going to have to visit you more often!!)

Black Jack is still made – BUT only once a year and it’s only distributed for one month out of the year: October! It’s an old favorite. I researched it a long time ago. I always get it for ‘myself’ for Halloween.


LceeL said...

eirc. Lovely post. I am leaving you something in my Tuesday post.

Kel said...

I wonder if you remember the REALLY old merchantile way down to the left on main street (down river). When I was in junior high the old gal who ran it was a millenium old . . . or at least she seemed that way to us. She was so old she was kind of creepy (to we kids) actually, and the merchantile was so so dusty and cluttered will all sorts of ridiculously old fashioned stuff. Farmer's overalls of the that no one wore any more, harnesses and yolks for horses and cattle that no one used anymore, huge old rusty thrillingly threatening bear traps hanging from the rafters. And two glass jars on the counter, one with prehistoric (perhaps even petrified) candy canes, and one with horehound drops, that weird hard candy that tasted rather like cough syrup, but was addictive once you got used to the flavor.

She smoked a pipe, and chewed tobacco, and had hair growing out of the wart on her chin (kids notice stuff like that). And lived in a few rooms at the back of the shop over looking the Platte River. One night, halloween actually, on a dare, we went trick or treating to her place just after she was locking up. Because no one in recorded memory (word-of-mouth-recorded memory) had ever had the nerve to actually knock on "her" door at halloween.

I think it was Kim Shank that went with me, none of the "boys" had the cojones to pull off the dare (like usuall). But Kim and I did, and I remember holding my breath with the intensity of the audacity of walking the dare through to its end. She opened the door, pipe in mouth, eyes squinted, and a frown on her mouth. We blurted out "Trick or Treat!" And she grunted, "eh? Well then, Trick it is." And we were left gaping, not knowing how to respond . . . I mean, in our days, shouting a gleeful "Trick of Treat" resulted in a smiling adult putting a few candies, or a candy apple, or a canded popcorn ball, in our sack. But 'back in the day', her day, if the the adult chose "trick," the kids had to perform a trick to get their treat.

I can't remember what we performed, but she huffed the first laugh I she ever uttered in my presence, and, as she wasn't expecting anyone to come a-knocking she invited us in for hot cocoa instead. Talk about one-up-manship on a dare! Not only did we carry off the original dare (the boys hiding in the bushes to watch), but we over-topped the adventure by a thousand fold by going in the house no one had ever entered (in our reckoning anyway).

It was a grand adventure, she fixed us hot cocoa and told us stories of when she was a young sprout and went trick or treating. And told us stories of she and her sister working the old dredges on the river when they were just kids to earn extra money to help out their folks. Thats where she started to chew, in the terribly dusty environments of the dredges, to keep her mouth moist to supress the cough that would otherwise dominate the day.

She closed up shop not long after that. Much to my dismay, because I started hanging out there on weekends, chatting with her, poking through the dusty piles of really cool, really old stuff.

I'll have to ask Mom what happened to her. Mom will know, as she was the public health nurse that took care of all the old folks living on their own in town.

Eric S. said...

Kel, that is the store I was thinking of. My memory of it is from a far younger age than yours because she closed up shop. I think I was maybe five or six.

I distinctly remember the smells in that store, the dust and especially the leather. Why that sticks in my mind I will never know. But the smells and that candy she would give free to us, the Black Jack gun and those rock hard licorice twists.

Eric S. said...

Vikki I would love to see that painting. Isn't fun to stroll down memory lane once in awhile? I bet you spent a lot of time in your Uncles store.

I didn't know they still made Black Jack, I'll have get your source from you.

Lou, thanks I'll check it out.

Kel said...

When I was at Mother's this last week I asked her if she remembered the shop and the ancient gal that ran it. She only remembered her, and the sister, as "the old maids."

Yes, dust and leather, and the tang of rusting iron. I have those smells solidly in my memory of that place too.

Eric S. said...

I do remember Mother referring to them as the old maids now. t seems in my dusty memory now that neither one had ever married.


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