Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CANDY (04/28/16)
TITLE: Red Rover, Red Rover
By Leola Ogle
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
When I was a child, store-bought candy wasn’t an everyday treat. Maybe that’s why the nostalgia that sweeps over me is so poignant. Or maybe it’s just my age. Getting older does that.
I always buy something – sometimes several things. Necco Wafer Roll has always been a favorite. I open the Necco package and that child who dwells in the recesses of my heart looks for the root beer-flavored ones. My taste buds aren’t the only thing that comes alive when I pop that thin wafer into my mouth. The sounds of “Red rover, red rover, send Johnny right over” transports me to a time when all that mattered was breaking through the locked hands of the opposing team when my name was called. And I remember Johnny, my twin friends’ younger brother – the little pest we always had to include in our games.
When I unwrap a Big Hunk, the echoes of “Simon says take three steps forward,” and my responding, “Mother, may I?” fill my mind. I pull on the nougat until there’s thin strands of the white chewy goodness. A few peanuts loosen and drop onto my lap. I pop them into my mouth and remember how I prided myself on never forgetting to say “Mother may I?” when we played Simon Says.
Summer days and evenings were fun-filled times of shared candy, sodas, and games. Sweat beaded and dripped off of us, but we didn’t care. We drank from garden hoses without a thought that the water tasted like rubber, nor that a day would come when we were aghast to drink anything but bottled water.
We dropped Red Hots into our water or Kool-Aid to make a cinnamon-y drink. We put salted peanuts into our Coca-Cola. Summer heat required plenty of hydration, and we were creative.
“Why do they call them Boston Baked Beans?” I asked my mom when I was seven years old. “They’re not beans at all.” I knew what beans were – we ate plenty of beans in my house – and the sweet candy-coated peanuts was nothing like beans.
My friends and I licked the back of Jujubes and stuck them on our earlobes for earrings. We felt smart and sophisticated.
A jawbreaker would last in my mouth through several games of jacks. Playing jacks in a tournament in fifth grade was my first exposure to cheaters. It was down to me and another girl, Judy. I got eliminated because Judy told the coach I moved the jacks on my turn. My honest pleas of, “No, I didn’t,” was to no avail. The coach declared Judy the winner. It was a life lesson that stuck with me on how liars and cheaters hurt people.
Hopscotch was made for all-day suckers – although the suckers never lasted all day. We bought the suckers from the corner store. The store sold penny candy. What can a penny buy today? Today if I see a penny on the ground, I don’t bother to pick it up. As a child, finding a penny meant three cherry balls. A nickel, dime, or quarter bought enough delicious treats to share with my friends.
Saf-T-Lollipops with the looped stick/handle we stuck our fingers through were a penny. I fell asleep with one in my mouth when I was five and awoke with it stuck in my hair. I cried as my mom soaked strands of my hair to remove it.
If only I’d realized how brief childhood was. Time marched on. We said goodbye to lazy summer days. Penny candy became a thing of the past. Adult responsibilities consumed us – me. Tragedy befell some of my childhood friends and all the candy in the world wouldn’t make it better.
This Saturday I’ll visit the candy aisle at Cracker Barrel. I’ll buy some of my favorite childhood treats. Did I mention that Bit ‘O Honey is my favorite? I’ll buy Bit ‘O Honey, and when I pop that honey-flavored taffy in my mouth, I’ll remember those innocent days of childhood and smile.
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