Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Something’s moving fast this year, folks---the Fall is in the air, the FEELING is in the wind, and even lavish displays in stores ranging from Halloween candy to Turkey lollipops to fully decorated TREES are not as off-putting as usual for September.   So, after yesterday's great exclamations over barrel after barrel of candy-from-my-childhood, I’m really thinking about those sweet times. 

That kind of candy wasn’t given out “in its day,” because very few could afford to give out penny candy to Trick-or-Treaters.  We got homemade stuff, back when you COULD---tight-packed little popcorn balls, twisted into odd dreary party-cracker shapes of waxed paper, with the variously-timed syrup either sticky brown goo which WOULD let go enough to unwrap, or which required assiduous prying with fingers and teeth to get the good parts off the paper without chewing as much CutRite as candy.

And there were candy apples, with saved-up popsicles sticks, some with the ends still bearing tell-tale stains of grape and lime in the wood visible in the porch-light.   One notable Mama would proffer the tray, standing there in her black cardigan with the little pumpkin brooch, mentioning to each child studying the wares that she “washed ‘em real good.”     Everybody’s apples had been dipped into various recipes of sugar-and-water syrup, from soft ball to hard-crack stage,  with a variety of flavorings, and we could remember from year to year who had the plain, who the molasses-laced, chewy, pull-a-tooth kind, and whose tray of apples would have the burnished lacquer of the true Candy-Apple-Red from dissolved RedHots,  apt to crack an incisor and numb your mouth like Novocain all at once.   A handy combination, if you think about it.

Mrs. Tallent made shining colorful suckers, right there in a black skillet in her kitchen, and for several years, I assumed that her name truly meant gifted, for who but fairies and workers of magic could take two cups of Godchaux, some water and a drop of food   colorin’ and make such marvels.   And in her house, she had a pretty round candy-dish which looked more like our church’s Lord’s Supper set than ordinary folks’ ware.  

The steeple on that lid was like a medieval archbishop’s hat, and, though probably not intended by the glass maker, too heavy to lift quietly enough to sneak a piece while your Mama and Mrs. T. were talking at the kitchen table.   And in that dish---oh, in that dish, there were all the Queen’s jewels, as well---little irregular lumps of sapphires and rubies and emeralds, all shining through the glass, and since that one time I was privy to watching the process, I knew that the syrup started hardening in the skillet, got thick enough to pour out, and was streamed in narrow rivers all round and round on a big slab of marble she kept slid between the refrigerator and the Bendix.   And then it was cut with SCISSORS, just like snipping off a thread.    The marvel of that is a revelation with me to this day.

Then there was the rippled ribbon candy, folded and fanned back on itself, that was given to the members of her Sunday School Class every year, and coveted wildly by everybody else.  She made lemon and cherry and that dark blue lickrish avidly gobbled by a few friends, though I never got the taste for that one.   And the CLOVE---we all had Oil of Clove in the medicine cabinet, but to use it for a flavoring was just beyond me.   Two licks and it ruined your mouth for any other candy for quite a while, and sticking one sidewise into your cheek---you couldn’t talk, taste or whistle til morning. 

Mrs. T. always had the prettiest table on her porch---great swaths of dried “color corn” hanging over, and a big pumpkin, bristling with dozens of jewel-colored suckers, stuck in all around and glistening in the candlelight.

 Like this, except homemade and unwrapped. 

And moiré non, of fried pies, tea-cakes and nail-polish taffy.


donna baker said...

I remember all of the above, Rachel. Pulled out a tooth on a black cow sucker. Remember getting pennies and one weird guy thought it funny to hand out potatoes. We used to pour cinnamon oil on toothpicks and loved those. I'm not so fond of cloves today though I do use it and mace in my gumbo.

racheld said...

Mace and Clove in your gumbo---sounds intriguing---with or without file'?

There are so many silly stories about our Halloweens---both my childhood and those of my children, and now we still all gather out front, set out tables of treats, and Sweetpea and her Mama go around the neighborhood.

At 7:30, we turn off the porch light and all troop downstairs to whatever has been simmering on the stove and cooking in the oven while we were out there. Our neighbor Honey always comes, as well, whether we're serving chili or turkey and dressing.

OH---you kindled a funny! Several years ago, either Caro or I had received some gorgeous roses---probably they were hers, for her birthday is in Sept. They were still in the vase, perfectly dried, still with that gorgeous deep maroon red color, and we put them on one of the party tables.

Chris, not to be outdone with the ODD part of the odds and ends, went round to where he'd just purchased a 50 lb. bag of Vidalias, and scattered them on all the tables, amongst the Hershey Bars and Snickers.

And several children REACHED for one, and one little Spiderman got his in his bag before his Mama caught him. One clever teen Vamp quipped, "Didn't you mean GARLIC?"

Moire non of candies when Chris gets all my pics where I can get at them.

Always love having you drop in,


Patsy said...

Time has rushed by just to fast.

Ang Specht said...

My grandma always made both candy apples and caramel apples every Halloween for trick-or-treaters. She lived across the field from us and we lived in the country--we only trick-or-treated in the country. (That's the way things were back then.) But the town kids would travel all the way to her house just for those apples! She was famous on Halloween. :) She died in 2002; but she made those apples all the way up until she died. We were just talking about it the other day, as we made caramel apples here. My kids never got to meet her; nor did my husband. But they really would've loved her.

My mom still makes the rock candy every Christmas, of all different flavors. I was never a big fan, but my kids do like it. :)

steelersandstartrek said...

Ah, the fault line between your childhood and mine begins to emerge! By the time I came along in the 50's and 60's, homemade treats were rare for Halloween in our area. Any apples we got were immediately discarded when we got home. And only our two doors down neighbor Mrs. Cook, who had lost her arm in a traffic accident as a teenager, gave away homemade popcorn balls -- and mom erred on the side of the object lesson over common sense and confiscated these. How I regret missing the simpler times of homemade ribbon candy, and candy apples that didn't come from the county fair!

Thank you for sharing such an enchanting rembembery!

Martha said...

Great memories all!

racheld said...

Miss Patsy,

I count the Halloweens now by the pictures in our files, and how the GRANDS have grown and changed costume types.

I'd love to take ours door-to-door and know every neighbor, and who WOULDN'T want to be able to sit down to a regular evening of TV after the kids went out the door in their finery and witchery, and look up later to see them come trooping in, safely home and rummaging through their bags to see the goodies.

Too MUCH change, too fast.

racheld said...


Your memories are so sweet and charming---I hope we could all have at least one memorable Grandparent who left such an indelible, pleasant impression.

I hope you'll share these sweet memories with your own readers---they're such dear times, and even if only for that one thing, your Grandma would be pleased and proud to be so fondly remembered.

I love when you drop by!


racheld said...


And so goes the rift, worse and wider than Tyken's, with exponential spread.

Doncha wish you'd had to tear yourself away from PALADIN to go out that door, free as daylight, for a few hours with your friends and the joy of the moment, roaming the gentle streets for the innocent gifts from neighbors' hands? Bless the times, and abjure the tides that took that away.

You know the visit to your childhood home made a masterful story, so PLEASE make time this busy October to write of one of those nights of boy-fun and friendship in that gentler time between The Nelsons and The Sopranos.

love to you and your Bride,


racheld said...


It's always lovely to have you drop in.


Kim S. said...

I love ‘penny’ candy. I’ll never forget going to the VA state fair a couple of years ago and going through the penny candy booth. It snaked around like a queue at Disneyland. The three of us wandered through with our baskets picking old favorites and forgotten treats. When we got to the cash registers, the total for our ‘penny’ candy came to almost $40!

I remember when the nieces and nephews were still young enough to come by Halloween night – I’d make pizzas and all kinds of goodies – caramel popcorn, cupcakes, cookies and best of all mini candy apples made with those tiny Lady apples. I miss those days.