The Little Store

Working my way through leftover Halloween candy makes me think of growing up a block away from candy Mecca.

“Lindow’s” (like windows), also known as “the little store,” was where you went for a quick gallon of milk, loaf of Mancini’s, popsicle, or most importantly, bagful of candy, long before the days of CoGos, Get-Gos, and Stop&Gos.

Perched on a corner with PAT and school bus stops and Bronx (ball) Field a few steps away, Lindow’s was a fixture, its green awning a refuge for waiting bus riders. Small even to me, it was jam packed: cash register on the left, freezer and cooler on the right, candy in the tall display case in the back, bread and baked goods in the center.  

Kids were banging through the squeaky front door from open till close, toting lists from mom or in hot pursuit of their own agendas. In my case, that would have been one thing: penny candy.

The gray-haired Lindows had to be saints in disquise. Every day, Mr. or Mrs. would patiently wait on a parade of kids clutching sweaty nickels and dimes (even a quarter once in a while), face pressed up to that penny candy window, pointing. “Two pixie sticks, uuuummmmm, a Bub’s Daddy, ummmmmm, 3 Bazooka, ummmmm 2 no 3 fish, ummmmm a flying saucer, how much is that?” And on and on until the little bags were full and everyone’s change depleted.

Wax lips or teeth, candy necklaces, wax pencils or bottles with disgusting “juice” inside, 3 kinds of candy cigarettes (chocolate with foil wrapper, hard candy with painted pink tip, and, the best choice, bubble gum wrapped in paper just like a cigarette. If you blew into it hard enough sometimes sugar would come out and look like smoke), shoestring licorice, regular twisted licorice in chocolate, cherry, and UGH licorice flavors, boxes of unbelievably salty pumpkin seeds, candy pills (smarties), jaw breakers…they had it all. And we ate it all. As often as we were lucky enough to have a coin to our name.

My husband, in the supreme one-upmanship ever, should write his own post. His father and uncle ran the family business: Somerset Candy Company, a wholesale candy/tobacco/paper goods distributorship. He could (and did) have candy all the time…and baseball cards, novelty cards, toy cars and planes, all the stuff of youth (most of which is still in our attic earmarked “for eBay”).

But I digress. Lindow’s was our little Mecca. I’ve seen specials on Food Network about the resurgence in penny candy as boomers try to recapture their childhood. No doubt you remember your favorites. If you crave a fix, a popular regional landmark, Baldinger’s, still sells it. But sadly, Lindow’s and so many “little stores” are long gone. Just a sweet — really sweet — memory. Oh, and when the Lindows retired, the little store was converted into — get this — a dentist office. How sweet is that!?

Once in a young lifetime one should be allowed to have
as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold. 
                                                                   ~ Judith Olney

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4 Comments

  1. CUTEBLOG NAME said,

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    What about the prices? A “Banana Flip” or “Suzie Q” for 12 cents, a double popcicle for 6 cents, which was ALWAYS broken down the middle though not always shared.(I hated when they did’nt break right.) Can you imagine not even rounding to the nearest nickle let alone quarter or dollar. I remember while staying at a friends’ house his mother actually GAVE us money to go down and get a pop. When I had it I could’nt believe it, my own bottle of pop(16 ouncer no less) And the best part was that when we finished drinking it,(The last quarter of it being flat and in retrospect sickeningly sweet due to nursing it) we got to walk back down for the 2 cent deposit. I think the deposit rule only multiplied the chaos at the candy counter due to the nearness of Bronx Field. You always had your non-ball playing kids there,waiting in the wings to snatch up a bottle. There were definite rules and learned skills. I think Jane Goodall could have concealed a camera crew in the woods and done a special on it.(continued)

  2. CUTEBLOG NAME said,

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    You learned that you could’nt just ask anybody “You want your bottle?” Usually just the “older” kids. You had your novices who would run down with one bottle for penny candy whenever they scored, but then there were the professionals who hoarded there take, stashing them under the bleachers or in the weeds till they amassed enough to buy whatever it was they wanted. Usually another pop thereby adding to their wealth.(Ingenius) I remember the first time I was asked while “on deck” “Want your bottle” I waved dismissively and said (Against all instinct) “Go head” (cont)

  3. CUTEBLOG NAME said,

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I guess it was that he considered me one of the “older kids” that broke me. Just another odd rite of passage

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you! I was younger and unaware of the many other facets of Lindow’s. I did shorten this entry a bit before posting — my first draft had all about buying popsicles & freeze pops and breaking the popsicles in half against the corner of the building (and what a bummer it was when they broke and you either got 2 stick halves or 2 top halves and it ruined the popsicle experience) and all about the Hostess/Lucky Cake phenomenon! (I used to like to let the freeze pops melt and then drink the juice (? god knows why — I think it was just fun to squeeze it out through that plastic sleeve.)


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