I was less than ten, so all I had in my pockets was sticky lollypop twigs or lint. Your price was within my reach, but you were not cheap, not easy, just accessible. Especially after Dad slapped his pocket change on the table. The Pink Panther Popsicles in the Skippy ice cream truck were 65 cents, and came with black gumball eyes (who made black gumballs?), but, Penny Candy, you were so much better. You didn’t melt, for one.
It wasn’t just rummaging through your paper bag after I paid the teenage cashier that made me smile, it was the whole process: the dusky walk holding my older siblings hands, and the way they let go after my Mother was out of sight, to signal that yes, I was becoming a big girl. “Hello,” the bell on the Unger’s Mart door tinked to me.
You, in those clear bins labeled with cents, beckoned me forth. When I approached you, sweet love, imagining the bits of sugar on my tongue, my brother or sister would have to call, “Wait for me.” I spent full minutes deciding which of you would bring me the most joy. My fingers danced gracelessly, plucked and prodded through your clear bins, and placed each piece of you on the counter before the cashier, who never gave me a discount. You were worth every cent.