Penny candy, Popsicles and red pencils, too

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005

When I was a kid, one of my favorite places to visit was Tucker’s Grocery in nearby Honoraville. If Mama needed Daddy to head over to Tucker’s to pick up some items we sorely needed, I jumped at the chance to go along.

I’d eagerly climb into the cab of Daddy’s dusty old truck. The no-frills cab would smell of chicken feed and hay, Kool cigarettes and a farmer’s honest sweat. Down I’d roll my window – the pickup’s only version of air conditioning – as we bounced down the red dirt road to Highway 50.

My long pigtails would swing in the breeze, as I plotted just what goodies I hoped to gain from my trip to Tucker’s.

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There was almost sure to be a cold drink in my near future (once I managed to fish it out of the big cooler, that is). Would it be a Co’-Cola, a grape Nehi, or maybe, a tasty Orange Crush?

(At age six, these were big decisions.)

Bounding up the steps of Tucker’s, I’d dash through its creaking screen door (every country store should have one), ready to explore this local treasure trove.

Oh, the candy!

A dollar bill could buy you a whole child-sized bag filled with sweet delights. There was chewing gum – sweet Juicy Fruit was my favorite

– and bubble gum, with silly jokes printed inside the wrappers.

I loved to roll those tangy Jolly Ranchers around in my mouth as they slowly dissolved (my favorite flavor, then, and now? – green apple).

Tootsie Pops and Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Daddies (and their easier-to-chew relatives), Sugar Mamas, were there, too, along with an array of candy bars – Paydays, Zeros, Hershey bars, Baby Ruths, Almond Joys, the delicious-but-messy Butterfingers, and whole lot more.

I loved the foil-covered chocolate footballs, and was even known to indulge in (candy) cigarettes on occasion.

Bit o’ Honey left me cold, but my oldest sister and I would practically come to blows over the last piece of a yellow taffy candy called Banana Biech (pronounced &uot;bike&uot;).

Then, of course, there were the ice cream sandwiches, Popsicles, and Eskimo Pies – what a lovely treat on a muggy summer’s day!

Yep, there were definite ulterior motives for tagging along on those trips to Tucker’s, beyond helping Daddy tote in the groceries.

And, aside from all those wonderful sweet treats, there were so many interesting things to see at the country store.

Back in the meat department, I could watch Mr. Luke, or his son, James, slice ham and bacon to order, or wrap up a generous hunk of old-fashioned hoop cheese (a favorite of Daddy’s).

There were pencils in bright colors, Blue Horse notebooks, comic books, too, not to mention intriguing fish lures, beef jerky and a strange sort of cookie called &uot;Stage Plank.&uot;

Is it any wonder I cherish my memories of the country store?

Angie Long is the lifestyles reporter for the Greenville Advocate

and can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 132 or via email at