Memories and Musings: A purple popsicle

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018

By Gene Gallelli

The quarter and nickel were burning a hole in my pocket as my friend, Dickie, and I hustled to the Rialto Theatre for the long-awaited “Twenty-five Cartoons” special. Not even a two-feature western or an Abbot and Costello movie caused more Saturday excitement than hours spent with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or Popeye the Sailor Man. (We did like fast-drawing, hard-riding Roy Rogers cowboy westerns, but were becoming more and more interested in sassy, gun-toting, good-looking cowgirl, Dale Evans. Imagine that!)

Twenty-five cents paid for a movie ticket and the remaining money was for five-cents-worth of penny candy, or a “grab bag” of very stale candy from Questa’s candy store. Picking out penny candy was considered an art form, a real challenge, and it took time, patience, and precise thinking to decide whether two jaw breakers were a better deal than a three-stick pack of Chum Gum. Sometimes the Questa sisters, the store owners, threw us out before we spent all five cents. They could be scary, but we candy-picking “pros” became experts at spotting the warning signs, especially the bulging neck veins and rapid toe-tapping.

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Because we were running late and Dickie and I didn’t want to miss a single cartoon, we skipped the candy store, content to suck on all the hard candy from home we had in our pockets.

In addition to the aforementioned Mickey, Donald, and Popeye animated flicks, we also laughed and hooted through Sylvester and Tweety, Little Lulu, Mighty Mouse, and several other favorites. We were surprised by a serial episode of Superman, whose costume looked like gray Long Johns.

After the show, we were told by a disgruntled classmate that he counted only 19 cartoons and was going to tell his father about the false advertising.

Dickie didn’t have any money, so I went alone into Questa’s to spend my remaining five cents. Instead of heading to the Penny candy smorgasbord, I went to the ice cream freezer and picked out a purple grape twin popsicle replete with two sticks for holding and sharing.

I guess, even way back then, I must have realized that sharing a purple popsicle with a special friend was more important than having a bag of stale Penny candy.