Every neighborhood had a candy store.
Jack’s was all counter and comic books. With white tiled floors and spinning red counter stools, it was where I came for egg creams and entertainment, or, when he turned up with the extra change in deeper pockets, stick pretzels and malteds with my older brother. It was where I picked thru racks of Superman, Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Batman, or when desperation hit and the new issues weren’t out, Classics Illustrated which took more work than I was willing to put in.
The owner was a slight elderly man who never talked but always joined you at the counter to find out what you wanted to drink. He dressed in white shirt, white pants, and a white apron tied with string that had faded chocolate stains where he wiped his hands after serving. The ornate mirrors behind him spoke back to us but I was still a long distance from narcissism and focused only on sipping at the sweet vanilla drink in front of me.
The candy store was where we bought our school supplies, newspapers, pints of rich ice cream, cigarettes, and neighborhood gossip. Just after dinner, the men would gather in the front, in circles of smoke and worn t-shirts, pointing in the air or scratching at the rough stubble on their cheeks that had already grown in at the end of the day. When the Daily News truck finally pulled to the curb, the delivery man would climb to the back of the truck and a stack of newsprint, tied in raw jute cord, would heave its way out of the back, landing with a breathless thud on the sidewalk. One of the men, with cigarette stuck to the corner of his mouth, grabbed the stack and walked it into the store, the cord ceremoniously popped, and the editions picked up and paid for.
Only a few shops like this remain, small corners of casual enjoyment, with stools that spin, sundaes served in glass dishes, and homemade whipped cream kept cold in steel bowls behind the counter. The late editions of the papers are long gone – but the reasons everyone gathered are still there.
Eddie’s Sweet Shop on Metropolitan Avenue
Photo © James and Karla Murray from recently published, New York Nights
(*Eddie’s was our go-to place when The Brunette and I lived in Forest Hills, Queens. No. 1 son was barely toddling and usually tucked into a fold up stroller when the craving hit and we took that 20 minute walk thru The Gardens. Eddie’s is still there…go visit…)