Sunday, March 4, 2012

SOLSC #4: Paradise When You're 7

In this challenge I am being reminded how important reading is in the process of writing.  I am learning so much going to blogs and reading the different styles of writing.  What is surprising, or perhaps refreshing, is how reading someone's post often reminds me of a significant story in my own life.  When I read Valerie Ruckes' post:  Gum Balls and Candy Necklaces I immediately remembered this special place.  I hadn't thought about it in years.  Thanks, Valerie.   

This is my grandma's cottage which
now sits abandoned.  
When I was a kid we used to go to Indian Lake to visit my great grandmother.  We'd drive for over an hour to reach her small cottage where she'd be waiting excitedly for arrival.  Visiting her was so much fun.  She had a kiln in which to fire the ceramic pieces we made.  My brother and I could sit for hours painting hot plates in the back room of her small cottage.  Looking back I chuckle at how clever she was at keeping small children quiet and busy.

We'd stay with her for a week to attend Bible School at her church.  We'd go skating, swim at the beach, and make new friends.  There was a certain freedom at my grandma's house near the lake.  My brother and I took paddle boats out onto the lake, went fishing by the pier, and wandered the streets barefoot stepping on tar bubbles rising above the street from the heat.  When I think back to things we did as small children I'm pretty amazed my mom didn't have a near heart attack.  Maybe she just didn't know.

Of course, one of the best parts of going to the lake rested two streets from my grandma's small cottage.  When we would go to visit, our parents would hand us each a quarter and send us off.  My brother and I would race down the street and around the corner.  We'd quickly step up the long cement walk and open the door to a seven year old's paradise.

Skipping into the small red building that looked more like a house than a business, we would walk among the rows of candy.  Yes, I said rows.  Yes, I said candy.  They had everything you could think of in this candy wonderland.  We'd look at the wax bottles filled with colorful sweet liquid, candy necklaces, the rows and rows of Zotz, wax lips, candy cigarettes, and bubble gum cigars that actually released a cloud of sugary smoke if you blew hard enough.  (Yep, those were the days before bike helmets, seat belts, and candy regulations.  It's a wonder we survived.)

My brother and I would pace around the store forever making our selections.  After great deliberation we'd take our quarter to the counter to pay and then dash outside to enjoy our treat.  Looking back now I'm grateful for those times when life was simple.  When exploring just came naturally.  When holding a quarter for candy in the palm of your seven year old hand held enough happiness to last a lifetime.


  1. I missed the slice by Valerie: I will have to go back and read hers, also. Your story evoked memories for me as well. A candy store about a half mile from my home, crossing a busy highway with no bike helmets or crosswalks -- what a different time that was. But how special the memories I have of shopping in that store.
    Might I add, it was right beside a large roller rink. That might have to be the subject of a post this month.
    Thanks for making me smile as I walked down memory lane with you this morning.

  2. Love this post. I loved popping the tar on the roads with your shoes as you walked. The times were simpler then. I'm grateful for living in a tiny little town so my boys can still have a lot of freedom, albeit not as much as I did thirty years ago.

  3. I too had a Grandmother who lived on the lake year round and spending time there with her was such a treasure. What a shame her house sits abandoned now, does your family still own it? We sold Grandma's when she passed and my father regrets it til today, that was pre-retired Dad. I might have to think of a lake post too.

  4. Your post took me back to my grandma and the "little store" we would run to with our nickels and dimes [you must have had a rich grandma to get quarters :)]. Thanks for this memory.

  5. Cathy, I love your post! Thanks for the mention too. Your story creates a vivid picture in my mind of your childhood. I forgot about the candy cigarettes and wax lips. I would love to share this story with my students. You describe a time when life was so simple yet so wonderful. Thanks for sharing your slice. PS I love the photo of your Grandmother's house.

  6. I LOVE that another slicer inspired this incredible post. How wonderful! I love the way the SOLSC creates a true community of writers.

  7. You are such a great storyteller, Cathy. There's something about a house at the lake that just makes you slow down, stop to smell the candy . . . I live on a river in a small town (unfortunately, no candy store) and I hope that one day my grandchildren-to-be will come and visit and enjoy as you did.

  8. Candy stores. They still bring out the kid in me. I love the part about your grandmother having a kiln. This house and lake sound like they have a lot of wonderful memories waiting to be uncovered.

  9. Your grandmother knew how to make big fun! Your trip to the Candy store reminded me of our bike rides to Rexall's Drugstore, where you could fill a whole lunch bag for a quarter. Could that really be?

  10. I loved your line "it's a wonder we survived." Because we did!

    It's funny that being born 9 years later gave me a whole different experience. I didn't get to know Grandma Milliken, but I sure wish that I could. And I always hear more that I didn't know...I had no idea about the kiln, but it makes sense given all of her ceramics that our family has.

    One of the things I remember the most about the cottage is how fun it was to touch the yellow glasses that were there with the designs all over them. And there was a huge stack of playing cards for me to mess around with. Additionally, it was the first place where I played Pong.

    Thanks for bringing this memory to life.

    Love ya,


  11. Love this as you not only give us a peek into your childhood, but you also help us as the reader conjure memories from our own childhoods. The candy story - rows and rows of candy - brought me right back to a place where we would visit for candy.

    Thank you Cathy for the picture you created with words and the picture of the cottage. What adventures you must have had there!

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