“Sweet to the soul and health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30
I am working toward a healthy eating lifestyle and trying to break bad habits that I formed when I was very young. This past week, while we were in California, we only went to our favorite candy store, See’s Candy, a few times — instead of everyday. Hey, it’s progress! My brain has been trained to think I’m in need of something sweet! I have to admit, like so many others around me, I’m a sugar addict. I read an article that said sugar is just as addicting as heroin or cocaine! If that’s true, that’s an intense fact!
One of my favorite memories as a child is going to my Uncle Lee’s house in Bethany, Oklahoma where he and my Uncle Curt ran a peanut roasting/vending business. They had every kids delight- you know the ones, the candy and toy vending machines that children beg their mother for while passing by. In their work room there were endless sacks of machine toy rings and prizes, sacks of bubble gum and various candies. My aunt Betty owned a literal candy store in Oklahoma City when our children were young. I would take them and she would load them up with anything they wanted- I grew up in a very entreprenerial fun family! We all love our ” Candy Aunt Betty” I didn’t have a chance, I was smitten with candy!
I’ve been a sugar happy person as long as I can remember. When I was seven we lived in the small town of Purcell, Oklahoma. I loved living there and have memories of great adventures. The town was small enough that I was allowed to ride my bike to Main street. I had three stops on my route. I’d go my Dad’s office at the church and say hello, then on to ‘Ballard’s’, which was a local hamburger place. This is where I first discovered and fell in love with soft, shaved ice. I went there so often that they knew my order when they saw me ride up on my Schwinn bike. I ordered “a large Dr. Pepper with lots and lots of ice.” I sat on the curb and drank that soda and crunched every last piece of that soft ice. I waved goodbye, jumped on my bike and was off to the main street “City Sundries” drugstore. This is where I loaded up on comic books and candy.
My dad had a souvenir from when we lived in Brazil. It was a hollowed out piece of bamboo about a foot long. He kept it in his closet and put all his loose change from each day into it. We called it his boot (I don’t remember why but we still call it that to this day). I know all three of us kids and the grandkids have gotten money from “the boot” at one time or another. (By the way, siblings, I call dibs on that boot to be mine someday!) That boot would get filled to overflowing, and I selflessly volunteered to work for my dad to help keep the boot under control. I figured what wouldn’t fit inside anymore was for my pay to maintain the boot loot. I earned it, so to speak. He’d humor me as we made the deal and let me get a handful for my pockets, and I’d be on my way. My pockets would be so full of coins that they pulled the white pocket fabric below the cut off jeans and jingled as I pedaled.
When I reached the store I hopped up on the tall swivel stool and proceeded to unload those coins out onto the glass counter. I jumped down and headed first to the round comic book display where I would get two of the latest Archie comics. I always saved the best activity for last … the section that held all the sweets. I carefully studied the man’s face as I kept putting candy on the counter one at a time as long as the man would let me. When he put up his hand I knew I was out of coins. I smiled up at him and said, “thank you,” with a muffled mouth full of bubble gum, and I stuffed the remaining candy into my pockets. He’d say, “now save some of that for later.” I would nod and smile back knowing, for me, later meant when my mouth was empty.
We moved to 806 Cinda St., Anaheim, California, 92806, when I was eight. Our parents bribed us to move by telling us we would have a swimming pool at our new house. It worked! We happily went and got a huge pool. However, my brother was somewhat skeptical, as they had previously promised him a monkey if we moved to Brazil (and he is still waiting for that monkey!). The first order of business for me was to find the candy store in my new location out west. My Mom let me ride my bike to discover our new territory. Anaheim was just a tad bigger than Purcell, Oklahoma but it didn’t intimidate me in the least. Sidewalks were sidewalks and they always led somewhere –so off I went.
I crossed the huge intersection with the light and I couldn’t believe my good fortune! I skidded to a stop as I looked up. Next to the Alpha Beta grocery store was a candy store. The whole store was dedicated to candy! I had died and gone to candy heaven. This wonderful new place was called “Boogies.” Boogie’s Candy Store! After loading my mouth and my pockets, when I arrived back home, I promptly told my mother the good news. She didn’t seem nearly as pleased as I thought she would be.
That boot got a pretty good work out over the years, and I had a lot of dentist appointments to follow. Last time I drove by that corner store, it was a cigarette/liquor store … so they were still selling legal, addictive products 40 years later! Some things never change.
I worked at Disneyland when I was in college. Guess which store they put me in? The Candy Shop on Main Street! I guess all my sweetness over the years was obvious to them …so the candy store it was! I got to sell candy to other people who, like me, loved candy!
I love these verses so much I can taste their goodness… “Kind words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24). I try to avoid the sugar products that still call my name. Instead I’m soaking in the sweet words of life found in the Word of God. It is sustainable and nourishing. Goodbye City Sundries, Sees, Boogies, Ballard’s, Braum’s, Blue Bell and bubble gum. One day I will attend a banquet that none of us can imagine the sweetness. Until then I am passing out kind, life-giving words that soothe all of our souls and bring glory to our Lord. Psalm 34:8 says, “taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” As strong a pull as food can be, I know God is so gracious and kind to his children, he gives us good gifts. My mind is fixed on the sweetest name I know — Jesus!