Dear Friends and Family,
Candy has always played an important part in my life. My first memory of candy was as a little boy playing in my back yard. Mrs. Nolan would sit in her open window next door, on the second floor. She’d call to me and throw a paper bag filled with candy. It would sometimes get stuck in the grape arbor and I’d have to climb up to get it, but she was generally a good shot. My last memory of Mrs Nolan was when they took her away to the hospital for the last time. I was playing across the street on my friend’s stoop. She called to me and waved. I waved back, but I didn’t run across the street to talk to her or to give her a hug. I feel bad about that to this day.
We lived in a three family house owned by my grandmother. She had a tenant, Rosie, who lived on the third floor. As a boy I’d climb the stairs to Rosie’s flat in the mornings. She’d give me a cup of coffee and let me play with a big box of junk in her closet. Junk to her but treasure to me: parts of machines, ball bearings, tools, old jars and pottery. Then she’d give me two pieces of bubble gum, Bazooka bubble gum. It was always hard as a rock, at least when you first put it in your mouth.
My Dad, also, loved candy. He’d have birthday parties for us, with our friends and cousins, where each place setting was a paper plate piled high with candy. Chocolate bars, candy buttons, Junior Mints, wax lips, Good N’ Plenty. I still have home movies of these parties. Things would start off calm enough, but after about twenty minutes the sugar would hit our bloodstream and we’d all be bouncing off the walls.
Later, when I was grown up with my own kids, my Dad would carry hard candies in his pockets to give to them. Werther’s Caramels usually. I’d tell him not to give candy to the kids because it’s bad for them. He’d ignore me, thank goodness. He could always be counted on to have a Hershey’s Golden Bar (or two) stashed away for my Mom. Later, when we moved to France I’d take the kids to our local penny candy store. They’d make up candy bags to take to the States to give to Poppy.
He was the original Candy Man.