Cnythia Baldwin's Memories

 

Penny Candy at Mayme's Store

2/28/99

 

One of the best treats in the world when I was little was to go with Mom to Mayme's store. The counter was very high, and on the top of it was the most beautiful cash register in the world. It was scrolled with gold and I think it had a huge eagle spreading its wings across tieback and fancy letters which later when I learned to read I discovered said something very mundane like "National Cash Register Company.” At the very top, practically out of sight, was a long window where numbers would pop up when Mayme would pull the handle. Then there would be a ding! And the drawer with money would fly open. The cash register was filled with lots of pennies and nickels and even quarters. The paper money was held down by springs to keep it neat, Mayme told me.

When my mom got back pennies in her change, I would lookup at her with my very most angelic face, hoping she would decide I needed a treat of penny candy since I had been so good (which I always believed I was!). I would take my pennies to the shelf right at my level where all the penny candy was housed in boxes. It was such a hard choice! I loved the Y&S stubby black licorice sticks the best as I grew older, but when I was very young, I preferred variety: Bazooka gum with cartoons, little chicklets in boxes, licorice pipes with red candy fire, long red licorice sticks, sour balls, jaw breakers wrapped in cellophane, tootsie rolls, suckers, red wax lips, or straws filled with lick-em-aid. It was a tough choice, so I had to start looking way before I was even sure Mom would be getting any pennies.

The most wonderful treat in the candy section to me was a Seven-up Bar. It was seven different confections covered with a dark chocolate. In the center was a big Brazil nut surrounded by little nougats of walnut cream, jelly, coconut (the only one I would give away to my Dad, because he liked coconut), caramel, vanilla marshmallow, and orange cream. (Boy, I think that’s right - correct me if my memory is wrong. I think I learned the flavors by sensory delight rather than through any intellectual focus!)It was better than Baby Ruth bars, better than Milky Ways, better than Hersey's chocolate bars. But since it was a dime and all the others were a nickel, it was a rare and special treat!

Everyone in my family eventually got addicted to the Y&S stubby licorice sticks which Mayme ordered from Canada. I was never ready to leave home for college until Mom had taken me over to Emerson to buy a whole box of licorice sticks. When I got back to college I would carefully ration them out as an after dinner treat, trying to make them last until my next trip home. I developed a following in my freshman dorm by offering an after dinner stick to a couple of girls on my floor who also liked black licorice. After that, they would seek me out at dinner so they could join me in what became a shared ritual. I would offer them licorice from the box like cigars. They would accept one graciously, smell it and breathe in the wonderful pungent fragrance. Silently we would take the first bite together, each of us in rapt concentration on the taste. Then we would murmur how great they tasted and savor them slowly as we discussed our lives and stories of the day. I have heard they took that specific type of licorice off the market because it had an addictive substance in it, which I certainly believe could have been true for me. Part of the pleasure for me though when I was eating the licorice was the association of the penny candy shelf at Mayme's Store where I first learned of the delights of candy and the struggles of decision making!

iation of the penny candy shelf at Mayme's Store where I first learned of the delights of candy and the struggles of decision making!