Lately I’ve taken to hiding candy and cookies in secret places in my kitchen because, like my grandma who never went to bed without her hot whiskey toddy, I feel a great need to have a little nip of chocolate in some form almost everyday. Unless I’ve indulged in some other luscious dessert during the day, whether or not it’s chocolate. I’ve become adept at hiding candy and such because I do it for a noble cause–the grandchildren–especially the younger one who never met a grain of sugar in any form that she didn’t love.This would not have been a problem except that she is missing that gene that lets her know when she’s had enough sugary treats, and makes her reject all other food. Besides hoarding, I lie too. When she comes in and hasn’t had dinner yet, I always tell her we don’t have any sweets when she asks for them.
Keeping in mind what I’ve learned during happiness lectures I’ve attended, I’m so thankful each time I dig out my hidden stash that I’m able to indulge myself now and then, and I always measure out my treats in reasonable amounts. As a child we had candy at Easter and at Christmas time my father would buy a box of Baby Ruths to pass out to the kids on his school bus route the last day of school before the holiday break. Sometimes we were lucky and had several left over. And once in awhile I could talk Daddy into buying me a candy bar when he let me tag along to my uncle’s general store in Providence. Still, candy and cookies were few and far between.
Kids growing up during the Great Depression had it far worse. Here’s One o’the Nine telling how infrequent his candy cravings were filled in this Looking Back Story originally published September 10, 1987 in a free Florida Press in northcentral Florida.
Some of the fondest memories I have are of my childhood growing up on the farm in the early thirties. Everyone was poor in those days and everyone had to work hard. We didn’t have food stamps or welfare checks to support us. We ate what we grew on the farm, and wore Sears Roebuck overalls with shirts Mama made on her old peddle type Singer sewing machine.
I so well remember hoeing and plowing out in the hot sun. We children would pray for it to rain so we could go to the house. If it had rained every time we prayed for it to, Noah’s flood would have been a short sprinkle. I really don’t know why we wanted it to rain so bad, because when it did we would have to shuck corn or shell peanuts. There was always something to do.
I remember another thing about my childhood that has become only a memory. It was the old rolling store. We called it the grocery truck. Each Thursday about ten o’clock in the morning the grocery truck would come by. The grocer truck was a big, covered truck that had all kinds of groceries, candy and chewing gum. Many of the farmers’ wives would buy the groceries they needed from the grocery truck, but we seldom bought anything more than a few pennies worth of candy or bubble gum.
Sometimes we were lucky enough to find a penny or a nickle, or maybe someone would feel sorry for us and give us a nickel or a dime, then we would spend it on candy. You could get a Baby Ruth bar for a penny. Maybe we would get some Bloney bubble gum or penny drink. Bloney bubble gum was in rolls about three inches long, and penny drink was a type of Kool-aid for a penny. You could buy a box of soda crackers (Saltines) for one dime. I mean a large box.
Once we suckering tobacco (my brother and I and a black man) [on grocery truck day] and the black man had a dime. He sent me across the field to flag down the grocery truck and get a box of crackers. He was going to take them home with him, but we ate the whole thing.
Children this day and time will never know how happy you can be just to get a piece of bubble gum or a glass of penny drink. Those were the good old days that were bad, but we were happy and didn’t even realize we were poor since everybody was the same.
Well, I guess my grandchildren will be telling their children of the good old days when they were children maybe fifty years from now. They could tell them how they only had a sports car to drive and only fifty dollars a week end to blow.
Postscript: The grocery truck had disappeared by the time I came along, but we had the Watkins man who came by regularly to sell Mama the flavorings she used in baking–vanilla and lemon mostly, the Fuller Brush man and other salesmen who stopped by occasionally peddling everything from picture frames to Bibles, even encyclopedias.
As for my own grandchildren, maybe someday they’ll be all grown up and wise enough to know when to stop eating the chocolate candy and cookies. By that time, no doubt they’ll be grandparents themselves and have to learn to lie and hoard their own stashes . . . for the sake of the grandchildren of course! Life’s never perfect.