Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Penny for Your Candy

Summer at the McGowen house meant our annual round of swimming lessons. We drove what seemed like an eternity from our house to a country property in the next county where Mrs. Webb gave Red Cross-certified lessons in her over-large above-ground swimming pool. The installers had plopped the pool down, rather randomly, amidst a peach grove that lead down to a wooded picnic area with a well-worn metal swing set. Some of the corners on that swing set were like razors. I wonder how we didn't sever an artery on that thing.

Three kids of three different ages meant at least three hours of lessons - but since our brother was so much younger, it was usually more like five our six hours. Torment for my mother, I'm sure, who always brought a big book for herself, and a cooler of snacks and drinks for everyone. We always made sure to bring our boombox with our Michael Jackson "Thriller" cassette tape. Cause you couldn't go too long without a Moonwalk attempt in the 80s. There was a rule, or something.

If we were well-behaved, the definition of which consisted of basically not drowning, of paying attention in our lessons and of not getting on mom's nerves, she would stop at a dirty old country store on the way back. The only gas station for 20 miles either way, it also had a nice collection of penny candy and gum. Yes, I said penny candy. Mom would give us each a dollar or two and let us have at it.

On July 5, my sister and I drove down the same road with my two nephews and my daughter, after swimming for hours. And even though they hadn't quite met my mother's definition of "well-behaved," we grinned at each other and pulled in.

Now thrice its original size, the store carries ice cream, fireworks, barbecue, pizza, canned goods, beer and wine, cigarettes, fresh tamales and fried chicken. It also has a nice collection of 5-cent candy. Inflation, I suppose, reaches even memories. But five cents is still under the Candy Consumer Price Index.

The kids picked out handsful of candies, lollipops, gum, and sparklers. They begged for Pop-its. I said no. I could envision their beloved Granny shrieking in fear the first time they threw one at her feet. The thought made me laugh. So I bought three boxes. I hope she doesn't kill me later. The total price for all that childish debauchery? $7.45. I should have gotten tamales, too.

They each had a piece of candy in the car, and have a nice hoard to bring along with them when they go to Helen on Wednesday. And, of course, each time we drive down that road after swimming at the park, they will beg us to stop at "the candy store."

But that's okay with me. After all, we did the same to our mother after every swimming lesson, and she's still sane... but I think the Pop-Its might do her in for good.


  1. Awwww, what a great memory! Thanks for sharing it - I'll have to try to dig up some of my own for the store blog (this blogging thing is tough, and I haven't even gotten started yet!)