In 1945 my dad bought a small “gift and electric” store on East Anaheim Street in Long Beach. On the corner across the street was a tiny candy store that sold bulk “penny candy.” (Yes, in those days a penny could buy something!)Every so often my dad would drop into the candy store at the close of his day and buy a bag of assorted penny candy to bring to “his girls.” Sis and I never knew when it would appear, but on those evenings when it did, our first clue was a sound - chk chk chk – the sound made by the candy pieces against the sides of the little paper sack. As daddy opened the front door, he would start shaking the bag in a rhythmic way that made the pieces of candy rattle: "chk, chk, chk”, “chk chk chk”, No matter where in the house we were, Ginnie Lou and I could pick up that “chk chk chk” sound.
We would race into the living room. With his long, lean arms, daddy would raise the paper bag into the air out of our reach, not missing a beat with his rhythmic sound. Ginnie Lou and I would jump up and down, trying to reach the bag, but he was too tall. Excitedly we’d yell, “Please, please, please” with the same rhythmic beat, and as soon as he relented and gave the candy over to “his girls,” we’d pepper him with kisses. Then we’d tear into the sack, finding root beer barrels wrapped in crackly cellophane paper, surgery gum drops, salt water taffy in waxed paper with twisted ends, red licorice whips, Walnettos, Double-Bubble gum (which was still in short supply after the war) and best of all, little round buttons of colored sugar candy firmly attached to long strips of paper. Daddy always made sure there were two of everything, so we wouldn’t have to argue over who would get what.While we were still portioning out the candy, he would head to the kitchen where mother was more than likely standing over the stove cooking dinner. He’d reach into his jacket pocket, pull out a 5-cent Hershey Bar, and say, “And here’s your surprise, Muddy,” his pet name for mother. He knew she loved Hershey Bars and he aimed to please. He’d give mother a peck on the cheek, and although we girls were forbidden to eat our candy before dinner, mother was under no such rule, so she’d have that candy bar gone in a flash!
Our bag of candy never cost dad more than 10 cents. Money was still hard to come by and with a new business to budget for our family had to be very careful with expenditures. Dad did this for us because he was a kind and generous man, and he loved making his family happy. He probably didn’t have a clue that this simple act would come to symbolize for my Sis and me a wonderful childhood and provide a rich storehouse of memories for his girls, even some sixty years later.