peanutsI wish I had a dollar for every time I stopped in McConnell’s Ten Cent Store and asked the lady behind the candy counter to sell me a couple of cents worth of salted roasted peanuts. Two cents wouldn’t make me rich, but it was a pretty good bit of “walking around money” in my pocket. McConnell’s was in the big building on Commercial Street which later housed Almand’s Variety Store.

In those days, around 1940, such a small purchase wasn’t all that unusual. I mean, consider that you could buy a new 1940 Ford for $550.00. I imagine for a two cent sale Miss Nix was humoring me a little. It was pretty small. But a nickel purchase was a lot.

The peanuts were in a candy counter with the candies all displayed in almost vertical glass bins. The peanuts were kept warm and smelled so good, they could suck the money right out of the pocket of a boy with absolutely no willpower, nor anything resembling one.

The fun thing was to have a bag of those peanuts in your left hand as you walked through town, tossing the nuts up in the air with your right hand and catching them in your mouth. Some became quite expert at it. I think Bob Lackey, Ralph Sellers, and maybe Buddy Randle were probably champs. I lost too many nuts to ever become proficient at it. As for the time-line this was way before it was the universal practice for boys to pour a pack of Tom’s or Lay’s peanuts into a “Coca-Cola” and drink them into the mouth.

The candy counter at McConnell’s also held coconut macaroon candies, and something called “haystacks”, which were caramel colored little haystack shaped candy, “corn” candy, jellybeans, gumdrops, those foam-like candies shaped like big peanuts and jelly orange slices. They all looked tempting, but a couple of pennies couldn’t get enough to be very rewarding, and peanuts usually won out because of quantity.   

That store had reading material we liked also. In addition to comic books, there were “Big-Little Books”. Those were illustrated story books with hard covers. They were about four inches wide and four inches high (little), and were about an inch and a half thick (big). They were usually about the common comic characters, like “Smilin’ Jack” and “Dick Tracy”.  

The toys in McConnell’s weren’t exciting, as I recall. When Mr. Willie Almand acquired the building and opened Almand’s Variety Store, he started out with a bang in my book. He filled the display windows with toys I liked.

Martin’s Ten Cent Store was on Center Street across from the building now housing The Sandwich Factory. They sold many of the same things McConnells’s did, but the displays didn’t draw boys in. And I don’t recall ever smelling roasted peanuts outside the door of that store.

At Huff’s Filling Station at the corner of Green and Bryant Street, where Pepper’s HVAC is now located, there was a candy showcase where licorice pipes, licorice twists and other candy could be bought. I recall vanilla fudge squares with a ring imbedded in it for a nickel.

The gasoline pump there had a glass container at the top which held 10 or 15 gallons. There were markers showing the level of gasoline in gallons. The gasoline was pumped up into the container with a manual rocker type pump and was released by the hose into an auto by gravity flow. The customer usually specified the number of gallons desired – not the money amount.

That filling station was operated by Mr. Huff and Mr. Jess Wallace. Mr. Huff was an old-timer who always wore a straw “skimmer” hat. It blew off one day just in time for the gasoline delivery truck to run over and flatten it. The round crown of the hat broke out. Mr. Huff picked it up and replaced the crown on top with a piece of wire, and continued to wear the hat as long as he was active.

I reckon my point is here that a small lad with a very few pennies in his o’vall pocket considered himself pretty well off. Anyway, that’s the way it looks in my rear view mirror.