The Joy of Penny Candy

I get great satisfaction out of making lists. I like to see things written down. Not long ago, I was prompted to write about “the corner store” in the writing group I belong to and when this prompt came up today, I made a list of some of the candies sold back in the fifties when I was very young.

Do you remember the names of the penny candy you ate as a child?

Do you recall eating any of these?

  1. Boston Baked Beans
    Mary Jane
  2. Candy Cigarettes
  3. Cinnamon Toothpicks
  4. Bullseye’s Caramel Creams
  5. Root Beer Barrels
  6. Chicklets, (they came two in a tiny box)
  7. Licorice Pipe
  8. Mary Janes
  9. Bazooka Bubble Gum
  10. Wax bottles with a sweet syrup in them (what were they called?)

Think back to when you were eight while you read the following short piece I wrote about how I recall the corner store near where I grew up.

The Corner Store

“Hurry up, slow poke” Jimmy turned to yell at me. I knew my brother would rather I stayed home, but Mary gave me a dime and told him to take me with him.  I love my oldest sister, she is always so nice to me, I wish she came to visit more often.

We walked along the highway toward the store. I was not allowed to go alone because the highway is so busy and I was only eight. Jimmy, who is twelve, says it is dangerous because we have to go past Mrs. Mackie’s house.  Just last night we could hear her howling at the moon. It sounds very scary, almost like singing and crying at the same time. Everyone knows she is a witch. When we got close to her driveway, my brother told me to run. I was so scared. She hates children.  Jimmy says she shoots salt at anyone who go on her property. I was careful to stay close to the road in case she came after us.

Safely passed her house, I slid my hand into my pocket; I wanted to make sure the dime was still there. I was so excited, I felt like I was on a great adventure. The store is so far away; Mom didn’t want me to go, but Mary talked her into it. She needed us to buy some cigarettes for her.

We rounded the corner and I could see the Texaco sign. Not far now. I listened to the gravel crunching under my feet. I counted my steps, twisting my foot to make each step louder.  A passing logging truck honked and made me jump. I think I screamed a little bit. I could feel the wind as it whizzed by. Jimmy yelled at me for getting too close to the pavement, he wanted me to walk near the ditch. I hated it when he bossed me around.

“Come on” I called to Jimmy as we drew close to the store. I started running; the excitement was too much to just walk. Mr. Whitney, the store owner, was at the gas pump, putting gas in Mr. Marsden’s truck while the men talked.  I ran up the wooden steps and pushed against the door, setting off the jingle of the bells announcing my arrival. Jimmy came in behind me.

I don’t know why we called it the store. It is actually a restaurant and gas station that sells candy, cigarettes and a few groceries.

I hopped up onto a round stool. The shiny chrome is covered in red leatherette. The best part is the way the stool swiveled. I pushed against the counter and started to spin myself right around. There were four stools at the small counter. To one side of the store there were a few tables. A couple of men sat near the window eating sandwiches and drinking coffee. I could smell toast. Mrs. Whitney was wiping the counter with a blue cloth. She smiled at me and said hello.  I jumped down from the stool and walked to the far side of the store. I glanced at the rack of comic books, giving it a spin. I did not want to waste my money on a comic book; I was here for a treat.

The candy jars lined the back wall behind the cash register. I stared at the wild array of colours, red and black jawbreakers, yellow and green jelly beans, boxes of candy cigarettes.  There were chocolate bars in rows along one shelf. I leaned toward the chocolate bars, breathing in the sweet fragrance. I picked up a Jersey Milk bar. The sign says that it costs five cents.  I licked my lips as I imagined the smooth chocolate melting in my mouth. Mrs. Whitney came over to see if I was going to buy something. Placing the chocolate bar on the counter, I pointed to the jars of candy. I tried to speak, but the words caught in my throat. Mom always tells people I don’t talk much because I’m too shy. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the dime and dropped it on the counter. It rolled to the edge and fell to the floor. Embarrassed, I quickly bent down to look for it on the wooden floor.  It had rolled under the comic book rack. This time I placed it carefully on the glass. Mrs. Whitney had a small paper bag in her hand waiting for me to choose. I pointed to the red lips, then the jawbreakers. Finally I pointed to the bubble gum and held up three fingers. I watched as the pieces of pink gum wrapped in paper dropped into the bag.
I whispered a thank you as I took the bag from Mrs. Whitney’s hand.  I smiled when I heard the rustling sound the paper makes as I opened the bag. It sounded like I was unwrapping a present.  I fished out a bubble gum and pealed the wrapper off revealing the bright pink treat. Delicious sweetness burst in my mouth.

Jimmy was waiting outside for me, talking to his friend Rusty who lives near the store. The two boys start walking toward home without a word, expecting me to follow behind. I didn’t care; I don’t want to walk with them anyway. I followed slowly, clutching my little brown bag, and trying to blow bubbles

Please head down to the comments section and let me know what you remember about your corner store.

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11 thoughts on “The Joy of Penny Candy

  1. The corner store I went to wasn’t close enough to walk to. It was a full on corner store with gas pumps out front and even an outhouse off to one side. I can remember 2,3,5,6,7,9 and 10. My mouth was watering thinking of these treats. I also remember bottle caps (a candy shaped like a pop bottle cap and I think they had flavours such as rootbeer, lemon etc.), cracker jacks, and the flat toffee that came in a tartan box. They use to sell a 5 flavoured chocolate bar there too. It had flavoured creams inside the chocolate, two of each flavour. Mmmmm…

  2. Oh your story takes me back to good days when I was a child. The penny candy store was one of my favourite places. Looking back the storekeeper had the patience of a saint as it took me forever to make up my mind what I wanted to spend my dime on.

  3. This was wonderful! The sights, sounds and smells you brought up reminded me of my detours to the local bakery on the way home from school. Mary, Jimmy, Mrs. Whitney and all just came alive for me. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Pingback: My Daily Prompt Blog

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