All of my family were known for having a sweet tooth. My Dad had to have a dessert at every meal, including breakfast. Cookies were the standard breakfast dessert. There was always a cake or pie or homemade pudding in the house besides the cookies. These desserts were usually homemade, but not always. The A&P store sold chocolate “Log” cakes with vanilla frosting which were a family favorite. I remember my Dad loved Fig Bars also. The Farnsworth Cookie Factory was nearby. They sold broken cookies by the box, approximately 20 X 30 X 10 inches, very inexpensively. At home, we separated the cookies into bags or containers to be frozen. They didn’t look pretty, but nothing was wrong with the taste!
I was a Pavlov-conditioned child with candy as my stimulus. Mommy gave me a small square from a large Hershey bar before my nap each day. There was always candy in her candy dishes around the house. Daddy loved hard candies and taffy. Mommy loved pink, Necco wintergreen candies. I think everyone liked chocolate, but it certainly was my favorite. When guests came to the house, Mommy would pass her candy dishes around. Company was coming and no candy was in the house except a large Hershey bar which she stored on the top shelf of her closet — out of child’s reach. She broke it up and placed the square pieces in a candy dish. While Mommy chatted with her guests, they eventually noted I had disappeared. I didn’t answer when called, so they went looking for me. I was asleep in my crib. I took my piece of candy and thought it was nap time. Today, that same piece of candy would keep me awake due to its caffeine content!
The preacher’s Sunday morning sermon lasted twenty minutes. The siren on the firehouse went off automatically every day at noon. The minister had to be finished by noon on the dot! No one would be listening after the siren went off! Twenty minutes is a long time to sit through a sermon for a little kid, and there was no nursery in those days. When I was school age, churches were becoming a little wiser about children in church. My church put a window in a Sunday School room at the back of the sanctuary, and parents with crying, restless children could use “The Bawl Room,” still watch the service, and perhaps hear some of it. But, in my day, I had to sit quietly for a full twenty minutes. My mother gave me a Tootsie Roll Pop at the beginning of the sermon, and it would last me the entire twenty minutes!
My family was also known for eating a LOT of ice cream. Every night before bed, we all had a bowl of ice cream. EVERY NIGHT!!!!!! My entire youth!!!!! My Dad used a soup bowl, and it was piled high. He was a bit overweight, but not bad. It is amazing he was not heavier! But ice cream was not limited to nighttime. It went really well with a piece of cake or pie after a meal! My Dad liked to say about anything especially tasty, “That has a taint to it! ‘Tain’t enough!”
At the dinner table one night, a very loose tooth fell out as I ate my dinner. I set the tooth down, and ran to the bathroom to rinse my mouth. When I returned to the table, everyone was eating their pie with a scoop of ice cream on top. As I began my dessert, my Daddy suddenly exclaimed he had lost a tooth and extracted a tooth from his mouth!!! As he probed to find where the tooth had come from, his teeth were all intact. Then we realized . . . my tooth was no longer beside my plate! Mom had set the container of ice cream beside my Dad’s place setting on top of my tooth! He had picked up the container and scooped out ice cream without noticing my tooth fell off the bottom of the container onto his pie, and his ice cream was unknowingly on top of my tooth on top of his pie.
My parents kept their stash of ice creams, as well as all their frozen veggies from our garden and frozen fruits from the summer’s harvests, in a freezer in the garage. This was before the days of garage door openers. When we left home for an hour or two, we did not get out of the car to close the garage. The door stayed open until we returned. Not only that, but we only locked the doors to our house when we went away overnight! Many people in those days, left their car keys in the ignition. That we did not do, but I know people who did. My parents were very faithful to God and to their church. They were always at church when there was a meeting for their age and interests. Wednesday night was Prayer Meeting. The neighborhood kids figured out we had ice cream in our freezer and would raid our freezer under the cover of darkness on Wednesday nights while we were away! It didn’t take many weeks for my parents to realize they had to lock our freezer. It was an annoying inconvenience for us. This was our first experience with needing security for our own protection.
Daddy had just finished his nightly bowl of ice cream on Sunday, November 21, 1976, went to bed, then jumped up a few minutes later declaring he was sick and headed for the bathroom. There he melted to the floor as my mother watched helplessly as an embolism took his life at age 64, just three months and two weeks before he turned 65 and retired.