Friday, July 25, 2014


They decided to not open the candy counter until 12:30 noon. During lunch time there were a lot of kids coming and going home for lunch and maybe twenty or so stayed and had their lunch at Lazar's. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lazar were busy with this lunch trade. When things settled down, Mr. Lazar would go up front and tend the penny candy counter.

Lazar's was a small mom and pop store across from the Boone Elememtary School. If you wanted to eat lunch there, you parent would call in your order in the morning and Mrs. Lazar would have it ready when you arrived from school. You paid with loose change when you picked up your lunch. A full lunch, if I remember correctly never cost more than fifty cents or so.

Your choices were hot dog or hamburger, fries, and a bottle of soda. The fries were delicious, as I remember them, because they were deep fried in lard. Today, Mrs. Lazar's "restaurant" would never receive "approval" from the Department of Health.

It was located in the back of the store behind a curtain. On the stove was the pot of boiling water for the hot dogs, on a table next to the stove was an electric grill for the hamburgers and a home kitchen size deep fryer for the potatoes.

A table was placed between the cooking area and the serving/pick up area. On the table was a piece of cardboard on which Mrs. Lazar had written down the orders as they were phoned in. Each order was written in a list, randomly placed one next to or under the next, and circled. When the order was filled, she would "X" it out with her pencil.

The store itself mirrored todays "7/11" type convenience store. On shelves along the two long sides of the shop you could find a few to half dozen of each product: soups, cereals, canned vegetables and fruit, pasta, flour, sugar, cleaning aides, etc.

For the lunch crowd, down the center of the shop, Mr. Lazar would put out saw horses and place boards on top, from one horse to the next. Benches were placed on either side of these make shift tables. Down the middle of the table were bottles of catsup and mustard. Onions and relish were not offered.

In the front of the store sat the penny candy counter. It was built with glass on all sides and top, held together with dark oak wood, and had sliding doors on the back where Mr. Lazar stood. Two or three glass shelves were filled with boxes of penny candy. 

He had the patience of Job, as you selected one of these and two of those, which he would put into a small brown paper bag. To this day I can close my eyes and see that candy counter and its contents.

I so loved penny candy (and do to this day) that my entrepreneurial, nine year old self approached Mr. Lazar with an offer. For ten cents, after lunch I would clean up the dirty paper plates and empty soda bottles from the sawhorse/board tables. He accepted my offer and was grateful for the help. Then I would spend my ten cents, plus my daily allowance of five cents, plus small change I pilfered from the bottom of my mothers purse at his candy counter.

To this day I am a sucker for penny candy, which of course costs much more. I love finding a store that still sells vintage candy and I wonder if the companies still make it or if the product has been in storerooms all these years.

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