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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.



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Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I wept at the grocery store. I walked inside and was transported to the street where my grandmother lived more than 45 years ago.

It was the smell, of course, that did it. The electric doors opened and I was assaulted with the candy aisle directly ahead stocked full for Halloween. I stopped, took a deep breath, and closed my eyes and I swear I could see it. I could see her.

Mrs. Quintroll (sorry if I'm not spelling that correctly) was an ancient woman when I was a child in the 1960s. White hair. A will of a wisp. Her teeth were always so white, but I had no concept of dentures back then. She wore sweaters in the summer heat. I'm sure she had to dance around in the shower to get wet.

The store was her house, just the front room, and she sold bread and milk and other sundries. But it was what was behind the glass cases in front that drew me.

My mother would park in front of my grandmother's house and I'd ask to go to the "ten-cent store." She'd smile and hand me a dime and off I'd go, like a Lewis and Clark bar. This was before the days of worrying abut child-abductions, or, perhaps my mother was hoping someone might relieve her of her duties.

The store had a screen door that squeaked and I remember wooden floors and a cool, basement-like feel. I do not remember anything about the rest of the room, I can only tell you what was behind the glass cases in front. At just the right viewing height for a round, chunky kid like me was a treasure trove of candy.

Pixie sticks. Caramel chews--I think they were called pinwheels. Tootsie Rolls. Jawbreakers. Smarties. Mary Janes. Kits taffy in the little squares. Tootsie Roll Pops. And the holy grail, Wax Lips. Oh wait, and the wax bottles of juice or soda or whatever they were. Licorice, too, but I would never waste a good dime on licorice.

I can't recall every type of candy, but I remember the smell of the room. It was the odor of every childhood dream. Mrs. Quintroll would stand behind the counter, a bony hand outstretched, and I'd hand her my dime. She'd squint at me over her cat-shaped glasses and ask, "What would you like?"

One piece at a time, I would select my choices. A Tootsie Roll Pop--grape, please. And a red one. Two pinwheels. Two Smarties.

My mind whirred with the speed at which I was choosing. I was closing in quickly on the ten-cent mark and I had to leave room for the Wax Lips. There was a fair amount of anxiety involved with this procedure because I didn't want to choose unwisely. And the overpowering smell of the candy almost lifted me off the wooden floor.

You have four more cents left," she said, pulling out the little paper bag where she placed my candy. She called it a "poke." On the radio I would hear a song, someone singing about "poke salad" and a girl whose mother was working on a chain gang. I can't even talk about her granny.

I chose four more pieces, including the Wax Lips, and she handed me the paper sack. I thanked her and went skipping down the lane to my grandmother's place.

I don't remember when they closed the store. I don't remember Mrs. Quintroll dying. I was oblivious to much of life going on around me. But that smell brought a wave of emotion and memory I had buried.

I went back to that little town not long ago and took some pictures of the street, my grandmother's house (pictured below), my uncle's wood-shop, the graveled lane that is now paved. It's all so much smaller than it seemed growing up.

And the smell of the candy is somehow sweeter.


Grace said...

Brings back memories. I also loved the long strips of adding machine type paper with the little dots ("buttons"?) of colored candy on them.

Robin said...

Sounds a lot like my childhood memories. Same candy, same type of store, but it was called Rudy's and it was on the corner of my grandmothers street. She had a metal glider on her front porch. I spent a lot of summer afternoons on that glider surrounded by trees, warm breezes, chapter books,penny candy, and most of all, love. Sweet memories. As Louis Armstrong would sing 'and I say to myself, what a wonderful world'.

Gail Stephens said...

Ah ... Ben Franklin Five & Dime on the town square and penny candy. It brings back such wonderful memories.

Steve Moore said...

Nice Chris. I too had that little store and it was also in the front room of a lady's house a few hundred yards from my Gramma's house. She had all the same candy and even small toys like yo-yos and marbles. All it takes is a certain smell that always catches you unaware and I am nine years old again. :)