Saving pennies for 'parafin Kool-Aid'

Watson Arnold

By the time I was in the third grade I had discovered that the small store just up the block from Sanger Avenue Elementary on 18th sold candy to the kids. We must have been its only customers, but at the end of each school day a crowd of small kids would descend to buy candy.

I did not have a great deal of money, just lunch money. But if I skipped a lunch and saved the money, I could buy treats for several weeks. My friends and I negotiated a deal under which on a certain day one of us would bring a particularly large lunch to share, so we who brought our lunch money could squirrel it away. Everyone brought the "big lunch" once every three months or so.

I never did like some of the treats like moon pies. They cost so much you could only get one or two before your money was gone. I liked the the little paraffin animals filled with a Kool-Aid-like solution. They only cost a penny each, so you could get one every day for weeks.

The ritual went like this: You bit the top off and sucked the juice out, slowly. Then you could chew the paraffin for quite a long time while you walked home. They came in all sorts of shapes, but I liked me animals, and especially those filled with a grape-tasting solution.

Our after-school trips to the store lasted for a couple of years, but by the fifth or sixth grade most of the kids felt they were too grown-up to go there anymore.

I am sure Miss Nina (Glass) and the Sanger teachers hated that little shop, but the kids loved it.

Watson Arnold is a retired physician.

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