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September 18, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal
When I was in elementary school, my friends and I used to go to Martin's, a little corner shop on Washington Avenue in Wheeling; now, it's home to Wheeling Coffee.
But back in the '60s, it was THE place to go for penny and nickel candy treats. Martin's always had a great selection of wax things: lips, harmonicas, fingernails, teeth, fangs for Halloween, tongues and more, I'm sure. I think the lips were my favorite.
And there were pumpkin seeds for 2 cents a box. And candy necklaces. And green apple favored Jolly Roger hard candies. And Bazooka bubble gum for a penny a piece. Oh, and Pixie Sticks, the flavored sugar particles you'd pour into your mouth from the striped paper straw. You'd have to be careful not to get the paper too wet or the little sands of flavor would get stuck. And little wax bottles filled with a syrupy sweet liquid. (You'd bite off the end of the bottle, suck out the liquid then you could even chew on the wax.) Individual pieces of licorice. And candy buttons. You know candy buttons. Little dots of pink, yellow, blue and green candies, stuck to a strip of white paper. Mary Janes. Bit-O-Honey. (I still buy Bit-O-Honey at Jebbia's from time to time!) Ummmmmmm.
Once I'd make my selection, the clerk would put the purchases in a tiny brown paper bag. I'd clutch that bag all the way home, opening it every now and then to pick out a treat — trying to make it last as long as I could.
And then in middle school, we'd always go to the Minute Market, now home to Honest to Goodness Salsa Cafe on Carmel Road. Candy cigarettes, Tootsie Rolls, Lick-em-Ade. Bonomo taffy. Also in middle school, my friends and I would go to the pharmacy across the street from Vance Memorial Church; it sat on the corner where Sheets is now. Charms Pops and Blow Pops were big back then.
As I write this, I'm a little more than half-way through a roll of chocolate Necco Wafers.
I bought them while touring b.a. Sweetie Candy Co. Inc. in Cleveland last week, which was part of a culinary tour of the city. (I'll be writing much more about that soon.) Like a kid in a candy store, I walked up and down the aisles, finding all sorts of memories. I saw Fizzies ... do you remember Fizzies? They were like Alka Seltzer tablets, but in flavors — root beer, cherry, grape and lime. You'd drop them in a glass of tap water and they'd fizzz. When it stopped fizzing, it was ready to drink.
So I bought some candy necklaces and lipstick (for Amanda) and candy cigarettes (for Leland ... I know, what a horrible mother!) and chocolate Necco Wafers for me.
And as I'm about finished with those Necco Wafers, I realize that they're not as tasty as I remember.
I think the childhood memories — taking that dime and selecting my prizes, eating some now and saving some for later — were much sweeter than the actual taste of the candy.
I'm thinking I may pass on consuming those little wax bottles full of sweet syrup that I bought ...
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