Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The days of lollipops and bubble gum ...

Early sixties, in the small rural village of my grandparents.

I was about nine years old, and my grandmother and I went to the village to replenish our supplies at the local grocery shop. The shop was next to the church, at the corner of the street.
The lady at the shop was married to the the caretaker of the church.
She had very red lips, and two irregular thin black streaks above her eyes.
Her black hair was put up, very fashionable back then...
but it looked a bit like a crow's nest to me.
Her name was Jeanne.

You could buy just about anything there, shoe polish, salt, pepper, flower, sugar... soap ...
I can still remember the smell of the sunlight soap,
or the brown soap my grandmother used to clean the floor with.
My grandmother ordered a kilo of flour,
and Jeanne scooped it out of a big container into a brown paper bag.
She put it on the scale on the counter to weigh it,
putting the bag on one side and the brass weights on the other.
I remember watching the needle stop exactly in the middle.
While my grandmother and Jeanne exchanged the latest gossips,
I looked at the glass candy jars on the counter.

My grandmother used to let me choose something, and I was trying to make up my mind.
That was kind of hard, there was so much to choose from.
There were toffees and peppermints, sweet and sour hearts, lollipops in so many different flavours, chewy little wine gums in the shape of little bears or mice, and of course, bubble gum ...
The bubble gum was pink, and inside the wrapper was a free tattoo.
I think it was printed on waxed paper sort of, and you had to lick it and put it onto your skin.
My mother would not let me have them, but my grandmother bought them anyway.
It took me hours and hours of practice to blow a big bubble, as I had seen other kids do.
I can still remember how proud I was, when I managed to do it for the first time.
And I can still feel that bubble collapsing in my face ...