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Sunday, December 3, 2023
Dec. 3, 2023

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Everybody Has a Story: Treat sparks sweet memories


On Father’s Day, we attended a party celebrating all the dads among us for their thoughtfulness, sacrifice and dedication. As we left, we were given lovely little champagne bottles filled with M&Ms. Snacking on the little confections the next day, I was reminded of how much we loved candy as kids.

Growing up in the Piedmont neighborhood of Portland, we were lucky enough to have not one but two dime stores in our immediate vicinity. Both stores were clean and filled with just about anything you could think of. But it was their large candy-by-the-pound departments that attracted the neighborhood kids.

Our favorite choices were the cheapest, of course! A good-sized bag of orange slices could be obtained for very little change, and therefore it was no problem to share them with a little buddy. Cheapest of all, though, were lemon drops. These were so inexpensive, a tot could share them with an entire crowd of friends.

One day when I was alone, greed got the best of me. I decided to go for the lemon drops and not share them with anybody. Drop by drop, I consumed the tart-yet-sweet little yellow candy lemons.

The next morning, I got quite a surprise. Because the drops were covered with a course coating of sugar, you sucked them against the roof of your mouth to get all the sugar off before chewing them up. I woke up with a very sore palate. Lesson taken and I never purchased them again!

The pharmacy down the street was my favorite because of a unique feature — an entire wall of penny candy. Some days I was able to nag my sweet mother for a nickel. Being the youngest of five, by the time I came along, dear old Mom was tired of nagging kids so, more often than not, I would get my 5 cents.

Off to the pharmacy I would go. I was the luckiest little girl in Portland, getting to make five choices for my after-school treat. This was no frivolous undertaking. Soberly and seriously, I sat in front of the great wall.

At first, the elderly pharmacist got a kick out of how earnestly I made my earth-shattering decisions. But one day he hurried me along, which to this day I do not understand. No problem, I thought, because having so many choices was more important than my hurt feelings. I became a real whiz at quickly picking five pieces and heading out the door.

Homemade candy was another way we enjoyed the sweet stuff. My older sister was a real expert at making taffy and caramels. Taffy was the most fun because we little siblings got to help by pulling it.

One year, my class was having a party, so I volunteered my mom’s delicious homemade fudge. Mom stayed up late to make sure I had my box of chocolatey goodness ready to take to school. A perennial bully who always picked on me saw this as an opportunity to give me the razz, so she announced to the class that the fudge tasted like coffee and returned her piece to my desk. Her minions followed suit.

Though my feelings were hurt, I was secretly glad because that meant more for me!

Of course, Halloween was the holiday of candy galore and we kids counted down the days almost as seriously as Christmas. Off we would go with a brown paper grocery bag to trick-or-treat until our little feet could take no more.

One year, at one house, we were handed tin foil balls. When we got home, we discovered that they were moist globs of hard Christmas candy, all stuck together. As desperate as we were for as much candy as we could get, these went into the garbage. We thought it was almost as bad as the lady who gave away grapefruit!

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

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