Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CANDY (04/28/16)
- TITLE: The Good Old Days
By Pat Small
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Once a month, Grammie phoned the grocer to order staples such as flour, sugar, salt, and spices. Everything else we grew, raised, canned, or stored in the root cellar. The kindly grocer always included a bag of penny candy for my brother and I. For farm children in wartime, this was a highlight.
Walter and I jumped up and down, envisioning the root beer balls, Bit-O-Honey squares, bubble gum, licorice, watermelon slices, pinwheels, and my favorite – peach blossoms. There was an endless variety; who knew what he had included this time. Watermelon slices were pink and green, covered with sugar sprinkles. Pinwheels were brown and white, alternating circles of flavor.
Peach blossoms had a shiny, hard surface and the appearance of tiny pink pillows. The filling was a nutty mix. My mouth waters, remembering. My brother loved the black and red licorice sticks, which minimized arguments over who got what.
“Hurry up, Grammie,” pleaded Walter, tugging at her apron. Big mistake. The more we begged, the slower she moved. She chatted up the grocer, was incredibly slow in counting out the payment, and unpacked the sacks with the speed of a sickly snail. Eventually, the treasure would appear, and Mama would supervise the division of wealth.
In addition to this bounty, two or three times a year my grandmother’s sister and brother-in-law would visit. We knew his pockets would be bulging with more sweetness for good little boys and girls. At least that was our claim, which we stuck to as though life itself depended on it.
When I enter a supermarket or a drug store these days, my mind boggles at the long row of bags bulging with Snickers, Hershey’s Kisses, Milky Ways and a dozen more. On the other hand, I can choose from a smorgasbord of bars, or smaller bags of M&M’s or Skittles. Wow! If I had seen such a sight in the 1940’s, I would have fainted from sheer delight. However, that does not diminish one whit from the memory of those rare little bags or pockets full of penny candy.
The amount of loot the average child garners on Halloween is more than we had if we added together each one of those tiny bags from the grocer and the pockets full Uncle Alva always wore to our house. We did not know we were deprived, so we were ecstatically happy with our occasional windfalls.
That wasn’t all. Imagine the sweet, plump strawberries we consumed when we went to pick. Red juice trickled down our chins as we straggled home. Blueberry picking saw us return with lips and tongues stained blue. Scratched arms and legs confirmed we had visited the raspberry or blackberry bushes. Our excesses were healthy. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. They were nature’s candy.
I must not forget the apple orchard where we ate to our heart’s content, and where all the “drops” were hauled off to the cider mill and brought back home as a tart, tasty apple juice (cider), sans preservatives. If you did not drink it fast enough, it fermented. I found that out one day when I was about four years old. I climbed up to the kitchen table and emptied the pitcher. I do not recall the effects, but allegedly, I staggered frequently to the outhouse, and never made that mistake again.
How could I forget harvesting maple sap and the treats, besides syrup, it produced? I remember boiling it down while snow was still on the ground. When Grampy dribbled a little in the snow, it hardened. What a yummy confection. There were maple sugar candies and maple fudge, as well as maple butter.
Those were what we like to call the “good, old days”. We were too young to know about rationing or sons, husbands, and brothers dying in a terrible war. We enjoyed our barefoot days, jumping in the hayloft, fishing with an alder branch, some string and a worm wiggling on a hook, sledding and skating, and the anticipation of the occasional bag of penny candy.
Anybody know where I can buy a peach blossom?
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