I suppose that my brother Merrill and I must have looked like street orphans growing up. We lived behind the old grocery store, a.k.a. Howard's Market Basket. Between our house and the store was a weedy old field (it seemed huge but in reality it was not). Our mother would occasionally send us to the grocery store for a few items and we would trudge through the field. I remember it being hot, dirty, and the weeds would stick to my clothes and scratch my legs. We were not the only children to pass through that field; there was a well-worn path leading to the side of the grocery store. There were however a few bonuses in making that trek. If we were lucky we would find a discarded pop bottle (in those days pop came in a sealed glass bottle--and I kid you not--the pop actually tasted much better) which we could trade for a total of 2 cents. Children today seeing a penny in the parking lot will hardly give it a second thought--let alone take the time to pick it up and put it in their pocket. But 50 years ago 2 cents would buy you several delicious sweet treats. After purchasing the item on our mother's list, we were free to spend our newly found fortune. Behind the counter were boxes of "penny-candy". Each sweet treasure could be purchased for one penny. My absolute favorite were "nigger-babies (no offense to anyone but that is really what they were called). Nigger babies were the sweetest, softest, black licorice shaped like a sleeping baby. So my penny usually went for that. Needless to say they have quit making them, but it still makes my mouth water to remember how yummy those candies were. Candy was a rarity in my childhood, something we only got on special occasions, or at Christmas. Our choices for that grand penny were bubblegum, red licorice, pixy sticks, taffy, candy dots stuck to paper, and other delicacies that are rumbling around in my head but not retrievable. I hated the walk to the store, but the loved the reward. I loved Howard's Market Basket. It smelled of "furnace" smells, was somewhat dark, but always there were fantastic things there. One thing was for sure, you didn't have to walk through aisles of clothing, housewares, and paint, just to buy a carton of milk.
I specifically remember my mother sending Merrill to the grocery store with money for a particular item called "sanitary napkins". She wrote the item on a piece of paper and told him to give it to the clerk and have her get the item. She knew her instructions were ignored when he proudly came home with a package of dinner napkins. Ahh Merrill--he always was one for doing it his way!