Some of you may remember one of my articles in the Suburban Times in which I mentioned that candy was a rare thing in my early childhood. Maybe my mom would give me a hard candy or a toffee a day if I had been good. I was pretty average. But on average, I probably got more than my one daily candy. Because of our neighbors.
We lived in a six-unit, three-story building, and one of the older couples on the first floor almost seemed to be watching us, the children. Go down the stairs and scream in pain – their front door would open and the sweet couple would console you and offer you a load of candy or cookies. Rub your knee on the outside and run inside for a bandage – the door would magically open and you’ll get another load of candy.
Children are smart. We knew that the couple had a soft spot for us, whether they were boy or girl, pretty or less, more or less young. We sometimes flocked to their door and rang for candy. No special occasion involved. Just on a whim. I used to hang back. My mother told me never to join, because it was like begging. Yet in all fairness my little brother, who had fewer qualms in this area, and my boyfriends usually shared the loot they left with. Rather, I relied on my luck luck. And on one occasion, when I beat up a neighborhood bully to defend my little brother, a big packet of assorted chewing gum flew out of a friend’s window, accompanied by her mother’s friendly wave.
I also got some free Pfennig candy from the dairy lady down the street every time I bought milk there. I was four years old then and, of course, the pride of doing something “big” was sweetened even more by such a treat.
We moved to another neighborhood when I was six. The jars of candy for the neighborhood kids were not what was needed there except with my mom. She religiously kept a plate of candy by the front door to treat the nice kids or the postman or the ladies who tried to convince her to join their church with some choice candy. Even after having moved for a long time. Even after moving to the United States.
I kept these sweet gestures in my first apartment in another different neighborhood. I had two lovely twins living next door, and their eyes lit up every time I spoke to her mom, they clung to her side, and I offered them candy from the plate I kept in my little hallway. . Of course, my own eyes lit up when they returned the gesture with small bouquets of meadow flowers picked by myself.
The older I got, the fewer children there were in my neighborhood. My plate of candy by the front door is gone. Here in the United States, he only reappeared on Halloween. But since we were the only ones in our neighborhood doing all the shenanigans – dressing, decorating our garage, carving pumpkins – hardly anyone ever showed up in our driveway. And those who did come were mostly young mothers with babies too young to enjoy candy. Or shy teenagers who couldn’t believe their luck not to have been turned away because they were “too old”. Moreover, we have never refused anyone.
Over time, we stopped bothering ourselves. There are no more children in our neighborhood. They have grown and evolved. There are still candies on a pantry shelf in our house. In case. You never know, someone may knock on the door and need a neighborhood hug in the form of a saltwater taffy or a Werther.