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