Just a few blocks from my house was a mom and pop ran Drug Store, Soda Fountain, Greeting Card and best of all a Candy Store. Klein’s Drug store was a place that had everything a child could ask for. The hand dipped milk shakes and toasted Land-shire Burgers were a staple for me every Saturday afternoon. Behind the store was (…the Paper Shack) a ran down wooden shack were after school about 12 of us money hungry boys would meet after school and tie news papers for 14 paper routes across town, some day I will get into the whole Paper Route and Girls Bicycle story, but that is for another sleepless night. The main attraction at Klein’s for me and my best friends was the glass candy case. If it was sugar, it was in there. This glass and wood case would make Willie Wonka jealous.
50 cents, if spent smartly would sugar a kid up for days. The bottom shelf had Penny Candy. Candy for a penny, try to explain that concept to your kids now. Those red, chewy, stale gummy like nickels were one of my favorites. A small brown paper sack of those cost 10 cents at the most. Candy Bars – TOP SHELF candy bars, Snickers, Mars Bars, Heath, and those foot long Charleston Chews set you back 25 cents. They were my older sisters favorite.
If chocolate wasn’t your thing, the assortment of gum was endless. Those foot long gum rope type of sticks came in all kinds of flavors. Mom had one rule though, “No Chewing That Green Apple Gum In The House!”. It just so happened that was and still is one of my favorite flavors of double bubble, bubble gum. Mom had a nose for this stuff, My sister and I could be three rooms away from mom and within seconds of us putting Green Apple Gum in our mouths she would be on us like a bloodhound chasing a prison escapee. There were times I swore she could smell it at home as I was three blocks away buying it. She hated that stuff.
This was also the time that chewing on tasteless plastic was in fashion, as wax teeth made it into the candy case every Halloween. Another acceptable type of tasteless candle wax were the 4 or 5 little soda bottles filled with some colored water, to get to the water you needed to chew the caps off. The taste of the wax was seconded by the less then one teaspoon of liquid.
The grand daddy of sugar was the Dippen Stix though, pure granulated sugar colored and flavored (ya right) was stored in a couple of little pouches. A hard flavorless candy stick would be licked by you and then dipped into one of the pouches of sugar and then licked clean. I am a firm believer that this is were the – “…No double dipping” rule started.
Mr and Mrs Klein have since long passed and the store changed hands a few times since. From Klein’s Drug Store – To A Girlish Tea Room it has ran the gambit of business ventures.
I share all this with you as today is the start of my daughters first full week of her senior year in high school. College talk has started and we made our first fact gathering mission concerning financial aid last week. On Tuesday of this week, Kasie and I will drive to Bloomington/Normal and tour Illinois State University. This is the time of her life she should be confused and emotional, but I have to admit, as I sit here right now at three in the morning, I am the one tearing up. I am the one who is asking – “Am I ready?”. “What am I going to do with an empty bedroom? – a room that holds so much laughter, so many tears, and so many one on one talks? Those good night kisses on the forehead will soon be gone, and the front door won’t open and close as many times as it does now.
Life was so easy when all I had to do is make a plan to get as much candy as I could for 50 cents or sit a the counter of Klein’s soda fountain reading Richie Rich comic books as I waited for that plastic wrapped Land-shire sandwich to heat up.
I leave you tonight with this one question………..
Why do they call a Chic-O-Stick a Chic-O-Stick anyway?
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