Monday, August 23, 2010

The Corner Store

When I was a kid, if you wanted to play video games: 1.) you'd needed to be rich, and 2.) you went to an arcade and turned your parent's life's savings into quarters just to watch a little yellow ball eat dots and ghosts, or to watch a giant gorilla beat the crap out of a little, Italian plumber wearing a red hat. Remember that kids, the next time your parents complain about the price of the X-box or the Wii game you want. Make sure to ask them if they want you to spend 20 bucks a day in some strange place, where supervision is pretty much nonexistent, or would their money be better spent on a game that would pretty much cost less, and with the added benefit of having their loving children at home, glued to the TV, eating them out of house and home, where it's safe. They may hesitate at first, but you know what they'll say.
Of course parents want their kids to be safe at home, but has this gone way to far? My son will not ride his bike to the corner store; it's a mere four blocks from our house. Even if I give him five bucks. Man, when I was a kid I loved going to the corner store! That was like the epitome of my year. I couldn't wait for my birthday to come around, cause it's in November, and as you all know, that's turkey month. My family would come to town for the holiday and I'd hit them all up for birthday cash. Cash by a child of the 70's definition is more like nickels, dimes and (for the big score,) quarters. Uncle Nick was my biggest whale, cause he always gave me a dollar. That may not seem like much to the child of today, but back then you could buy some serious candy with a handful of change. I'm talking 25 cent candy bars that were twice the size of the ones you can buy today. In fact, candy bars are so expensive today, their going to have to start checking children's credit scores just so they can buy one. I mean let's face it, it's getting so cashiers don't believe a kid has the cash to purchase a candy bar. Heck, it won't be long before we'll have to ask the cashier to unlock the glass widow so we an look at a bag of M&Ms.
I rarely bought candy bars with my cash. Don't get me wrong, candy bars were and will always be the king of candies, but I couldn't afford to let all my cash go to just a few big-ticket items. It could be a whole six months before I would see that kind of booty again and I wanted quantity over quality. I know what you're thinking, well some of you are; the smart one anyway! It's November. Where the heck is your candy from Halloween? That's definitely a good question and another story; I'll try to remember to tell you another time.
Kids in my day, at least the ones I was acquainted with, didn't see candy on a regular when we did get some, we had to make it last as long as we could. The only way to insure it did last, was buy sticking to the "no big ticket items" rule. Well okay, I would buy at least one big ticket item but most of my cash was spent on Tootsie Pops, Now-n-Laters and Jolly Ranchers. Nope, you're not wrong, you definitely see a pattern here. All of these were hard candies and; therefore, designed to last so I filled up my little brown bag with as many of those I could afford; then I focused on the one big ticket item I was going to get.
Funny thing: I was never good at math, unless I was trying to figure out how much of my money to spend on quantity candy items and what I would have left for the big-ticket-item. Oh well, I didn't worry about it then, so I'm not going to do it now.
The Big Ticket Item was so hard to pick that a kid could be in the store for hours just trying to decide what was worth the price. Of course the candy bar was on the top of my list with it's smooth, rich milk chocolate, nutty clusters and caramel, but it had one major contender: Bubble Yum bubble gum. I mean come on! Here is a big ticket item that is loads of bubble-blowing fun and it's meant to last! What more could a penny-pinching, candy-hording kid like me ask for? Just as I'd thought I had my choices narrowed down to two items, the giant bag of Lick-a-Stick would catch my eye and send me into a twirling, spinning trance that was breakable by no man. Candy bar, Bubble Yum, and Lick-a-Stick twisted around in my brain over and over. Yep, hours would go by before I would decide.
You're probably wondering where my mom or dad were, around about now. Well, back then kids had a certain amount of freedom that kids today couldn't begin to fathom. If I wanted to get up at 6 am to head out doors, and not come back until that night, I could. Of course, I had to come back before dark or my mom would start to worry. If mom worried, dad got out his belt. Don't let this upset you; most of the time it didn't come to that because of three main factors: breakfast, lunch and dinner. These are things we kids were not willing to miss out on. When I spent my days outdoors, riding my bike, or building forts, swimming in the river, catching bugs, looking for railroad nails, flattening pennies on the tracks, etcetera, etcetera, I'd get very hungry, so I'd never go so far from home that I'd risk skipping a meal if I could help it.
What? You want to know what I ended up buying as my big ticket item? The Bubble Yum of course. What would you have picked?


  1. Well, I'd pick the chocolate bar every time ;)
    Love your blog :)
    The Irrepressible Pinecone :)

  2. Yay! My first comment. Ty, you irrepressible Pinecone you! *hugs*