The Little Red Candy Hearts
Love the little red candy hearts that come with Valentines Day. They are so colorful and tasty too!
Yes, red has always been my favorite color in sweets. You know cherries, strawberries, cheery cokes, tutti-frutti,
RC Cola, candy hearts, red Jell-O, Neapolitan ice cream the red stuff, red candy popcorn, and so on.
It all began way back when I was a little kid. The Panama Canal Commissary brought in most things in bulk.
Rice at Balboa in the breezeway going to the sporting goods store was broken down into 2 pound and 5 pound sacks. These were
brown paper sacks tied with string to hold all the rice. Red kidney beans something. But that is not what this little story
is about...lets talk red candies.
For you people who lived in the Canal Zone in the 1940s, you can all remember the fabulous soda fountains
and candy counters. All the candies were on display behind glass with a nice lady who weighed your selections from the bulk
display bins. There were red and yellow cones the size of your small pinkie. There were also licorice sticks and red &
white peppermint sticks and my favorite jawbreakers the size of my little fist. Not to mention lollipops, tootsie rolls, chocolate
kiss and white wafers. Now the wafers came already in a roll. Now the reason I mention the flat white wafers is that I was
born into a practicing Roman Catholic family. Mass every Sunday and catechism every Wednesday evening at Saint Marys in Balboa.
Now little kids watch everything. Nothing escapes them. We would watch the grownups at church and the priest during the saying
of the mass. Now there comes a point in the mass where the priest distributes communion. Well, guess what? We too...would
perform with our friends using the little white wafers. We had it down pad with the mumbling for the part we didnt know in
Latin. My Mom caught me once and asks me what I was doing. I had the whole neighborhood lined up and I was distributing the
wafers. Well, my mother told me that the mass was something very special and one had to go to a seminary to get the instruction
in order to become a priest.
After that I stopped and took to eating Oreo Cookies from Nabisco with my friends. We all ate them in a
special way...you know...you separate them and eat all the white gooey sweet stuff first. Later I discovered a desert called
"Pay Dirt" could be made with Oreo cookies. It was served in a toy beach pail and served using the little shovel. Quite a
treat and will start a conversation in a heartbeat when you mix in some delicious little red candy worms. Oh, my you get the
peoples attention right away with that desert dish.
Backs then Saturday mornings were set aside to go to Balboa Commissary. My Dad, always let me hit the candy
counter and take home a handful of sweet goodies. Shopping at the commie was always a great adventure for me. With five-dollar
coupon book we could load up the woody and still have money left over to hit the service station and fill up with gas. Gas
back then cost 8 cents a gallon. After that we would go out to La Boca point to catch the ferry. We lived on the next side
of the canal in Cocoli. Yes, Cocoli where the living is easy... and those happy days I thought would last forever.........