Archive for May 2nd, 2007

By Barbara Rick

Whirly Pops from Harrods in London, Copyright Barbara Rick

Whirly Pops from Harrods in London, photo © 2007 by Barbara Rick. All rights reserved.

In my freckle-faced, firmer-thighed youth I had a thing for Butterfingers. And Clark Bars. Sugar Babies, Sugar Daddies, Tootsie Pops and Pez.

It was a long way for a little girl to Lyons, the candy store on the corner. I remember walking down North Pleasant Avenue–under a leafy roof of elm and oak–nickel tight against my palm.

It was dark inside the cigarette smoke-stained soda fountain and grill, but the candy wrappers were neon.

Row upon row of Good ‘N Plenty, Twizzlers, Mounds and Almond Joy. Jujyfruit, Jujubes, SweeTarts. A jungle of flavors. The velvety, creamy, chunky, the chocolately: I loved it all. I never met a peanut butter cup I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.

Every Valentine’s Day, my dad would bring hearts filled with caramels and creams to my mom and my sisters and me…later on, sweet silver earrings shaped just like those heart boxes.

A local clothing store in town had an old-fashioned penny candy counter. Inside the antique wood cabinets and beveled glass gleamed Mary Janes, Jawbreakers, candy corn and those white strips of paper with pastel buttons you’d pick off with your teeth. They had red licorice shoelaces and Bazooka bubble gum.

At the movie theater nearby, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were all sweetened by Starburst, Goobers and Raisinets.

A great thing about summer sleep away camp in the fourth grade were the bonbons that came in a long box. You could buy them after the sun went down. They warded off homesickness–sometimes.

Mrs. Farrell, our wrinkled piano teacher, dispensed cellophane-wrapped cinnamon and butterscotch drops to polite students after each weekly lesson. The candy beat Bach.

My classmates and I would take the bus to the Plaza for Saturday shopping expeditions. Clothes were the alleged highlight. But for me, the malted balls and caramel turtles at the JC Penney candy counter were my raison d’etre at the mall.

Me and candy. Candy and me.

In the summertime, I’d slip miniature Milky Way and Snickers bars out of their bags in our freezer, one by one, and then play dumb when my mother wondered, hands on hips, where have all the candy bars gone?

Have a piece of fruit, she’d say, when I was prowling the kitchen for sugar.


Over the years, I wasn’t really having candy anymore; it was having me.

Going through a painful divorce, I arrived at a point in my life when I was willing to let go of whatever wasn’t working anymore. Sometimes surrender beats endless wrestling. I’ve found it easier for me not to have any–none–than struggle just to have one.

I’ve essentially given up candy for almost fourteen years now.

People say, no candy?
Moderation! they cry.
Why not just have one?

There is nothing remotely moderate about me and candy, and besides, I’ve had way more than my share.

It IS possible to live in a world without KitKats.

Life is infinitely sweeter for me without them.

On Candy is a compilation of writing practices on confection.

About writing, Barbara says: I deeply love language; the images and feelings it captures and communicates. I’ve been writing since I was eight…creating stories at a neighbor’s picnic table in a wisteria-scented backyard. Perfectionism was a plague early on–I obsessed about getting the quotation marks exactly right!

Whether writing copy for network news anchors, movie scripts, magazine articles, or short stories, I aim for brevity, clarity, accuracy, and truth.

Barbara is finishing up a new documentary on an inspiring journey deep inside South Africa.

More about other projects at Out of The Blue Films.

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – CANDY FREAK

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It was the 1950’s. Gas was 29¢ a gallon, cigarettes 25¢ a pack, a hospital stay was $35 a day. The Franklin National Bank in New York issued the first credit card, and the World’s first shopping mall in the U.S. – Seattle’s Northgate Mall was built. The First Grammy Awards happened, RCA’s Color Television sets hit the market, and the films, On the Waterfront, All About Eve and An American in Paris were released.

Marilyn Monroe and her husbands Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller were pretty big. So were Peanuts, Mad Magazine, Jonas Salk, James Dean, Fidel Castro, Rosa Parks, Billy Graham, the Korean War, and Israel invading the Sinai Peninsula.

In the decade of blazers, bermuda shorts, saddle shoes, and sack dresses, writers like James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lillian Hellman, William Burroughs, Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag, Maria Irene Fornes, Gary Snyder, J.D. Salinger, Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor, and Dylan Thomas were all doing their thing.

People change and grow. Countries have lives and spirits that change and grow. Would you say America is still in its adolescence?

You can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. You can also tell a lot about a culture. In the 1950’s, here’s what America was reading.

1 9 5 0 ‘ s – B E S T S E L L E R S


  1. From Here to Eternity, James Jones
  2. Return to Paradise, James A. Michener
  3. The Silver Chalice, Thomas B. Costain
  4. East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  5. Giant, Edna Ferber
  6. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  7. The Robe, Lloyd C. Douglas
  8. Désirée, Annemarie Selinko
  9. Battle Cry, Leon M. Uris
  10. Love Is Eternal, Irving Stone
  11. The Egyptian, Mika Waltari
  12. No Time for Sergeants, Mac Hyman
  13. Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis
  14. Andersonville, MacKinlay Kantor
  15. Bonjour Tristesse, Françoise Sagan
  16. Peyton Place, Grace Metalious
  17. Eloise, Kay Thompson
  18. The Tribe That Lost Its Head, Nicholas Monsarrat
  19. The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir
  20. Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, Max Shulman
  21. Blue Camellia, Frances Parkinson Keyes
  22. The Scapegoat, Daphne du Maurier
  23. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
  24. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  25. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
  26. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  27. Exodus, Leon Uris
  28. Poor No More, Robert Ruark
  29. The Ugly American, William J. Lederer and Eugene L. Burdick
  30. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D. H. Lawrence

1 9 5 0 ‘ s – B E S T S E L L E R S


  1. Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book; Betty Crocker’s Good & Easy Cook Book 
  2. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, Frank Bettger
  3. Look Younger, Live Longer, Gayelord Hauser
  4. Washington Confidential, Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer
  5. Better Homes and Gardens Handyman’s Book; Diet Book; Barbecue Book; Decorating Book; Flower Book
  6. The Sea Around Us, Rachel L. Carson
  7. The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version
  8. U.S.A. Confidential, Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer
  9. Tallulah, Tallulah Bankhead
  10. The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale
  11. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Alfred C. Kinsey, et al.
  12. Angel Unaware, Dale Evans Rogers
  13. This I Believe, Edward P. Morgan, editor; Edward R. Murrow, foreword
  14. How to Play Your Best Golf, Tommy Armour
  15. The Saturday Evening Post Treasury, Roger Butterfield, editor
  16. Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  17. The Family of Man, Edward Steichen
  18. How to Live 365 Days a Year, John A. Schindler
  19. The Secret of Happiness, Billy Graham
  20. Why Johnny Can’t Read, Rudolf Flesch
  21. Inside Africa, John Gunther
  22. Year of Decisions, Harry S Truman
  23. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, concise ed., David B. Guralnik
  24. Etiquette, Frances Benton
  25. Love or Perish, Smiley Blanton, M.D.
  26. The Nun’s Story, Kathryn Hulme
  27. Kids Say the Darndest Things!, Art Linkletter
  28. The FBI Story, Don Whitehead
  29. Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing, Robert Paul Smith
  30. Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, Jean Kerr
  31. The Day Christ Died, Jim Bishop
  32. ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty, Pat Boone
  33. Masters of Deceit, Edgar Hoover
  34. The New Testament in Modern English, J. P. Phillips, trans.
  35. Dear Abby, Abigail Van Buren
  36. Inside Russia Today, John Gunter
  37. Folk Medicine, D. C. Jarvis
  38. Charley Weaver’s Letters from Mamma, Cliff Arquette
  39. The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White
  40. Only in America, Harry Golden


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

-Resources: 1950’s Bestsellers List from Cader Books, The Literature and Culture of the American 1950’s

-related to posts:  The 1960’s — What Was America Reading?, The 1970’s — What Was America Reading?

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