Until I was six, we lived on the main street of Sand Lake, a little town nestled north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. My memories of this time are like blurry snapshots, yet several memories revolve around walking on the sidewalk to the store and school. Today, when I drive the by that route, I really am surprised how long it is, probably half a mile or more. I cannot image allowing my 4 or 5 year old walk such a distance without adult supervision. But as they say, times were different. It was 1971. Plus, I was never alone. I am a twin. My sister was always with me.
My earliest memory of this route involves my sister and I, still preschoolers, walking hand-in-hand in our matching, mother-sewn dresses to the variety store at the end of the street. We were each given a dime, and with this treasure we could purchase penny or cheaper-than-penny candy, so 15 pieces or more! The store owner had twenty or so large, wide-mouth, tilting glass jars displayed on shelves from counter height to the floor—at perfect child level.
My sister and I, with our sweaty dimes in hand, would labor over our choices. Hard candy of all colors tempted us: butterscotch and root beer barrels, Bull’s Eyes caramel creams, Necco wafers, white jelly bean nougats, Neapolitan coconut taffy, Double Bubble gum, Mary Jane peanut butter candies, and wax mini pop bottles. I can now imagine that we took our sweet time to make our selections.
Finally, my favorite time was when our individual purchases would be put into a crisp tiny paper bag, probably the same ones used by hardwares to put individual nail and screw purchases in. Maybe it was a twin thing, always having to share, but I loved having my own bag of sugary delights.
Funny, I don’t remember any adults in these snapshots. None on the the walk there and back, none at the store. No even my mother at home. It was our first taste of independence paired with confectionery delight!