(Reading time 4.5 minutes)
My wife, Winnie, could never pass a penny candy store without stopping in to buy some licorice sticks or jelly beans. On the day of this story, we were walking along a small street in a Maine coastal town. Winnie spotted a candy store displaying a big, multi bright colored sign, with candy canes all around the border. The sign read, “Winnie and Minnie’s Penny Candies”. My wife gasped with delight, and made a B-line for the entrance. I followed dutifully. Her eyes were as big as saucers as she viewed the myriads of goodies. “Oh”, she exclaimed to the lady behind the counter, “this has been my dream since I was a little girl! I always wanted a penny candy store, and my name is Winnie!” “Well that is a coincidence, so is mine”, said the lady with the pink candy striped apron. That started a typical two-lady conversation about their common interests and tastes, which led to the question from the proprietor: “Would you like to hear how I became the owner of this store?” “I’d be delighted”, said my wife.
“About fifty years ago, I used to attend the grade school across the street. At the time it was just six small classrooms, one for each grade. After school one day, I had a single penny, so, I couldn’t resist buying a penny’s worth of jellybeans. When I got my penny bag of beans and started devouring them, I said to Mrs. Shickman the owner, ‘If all of the children coming out of school knew how good these were, they would all want some.’ I offered one to Minnie, my schoolmate who was with me. She exclaimed how good they were and said, ‘tomorrow if my Mommy gives me a penny, I am going to buy some for myself and then I’ll give you one of mine.’ She followed up by saying, ‘You just can’t eat one jelly bean’.”
“This act of friendship was the commencement of a lifelong relationship, and the nucleus of a subsequent partnership venture. Her name was Minnie. Each day after school, in good weather, Minnie and I took turns helping the owner of the store and one or the other of us passed out jellybeans to children after school. They were the new prospective customers walking by the front of the store.
Mrs. Shickman was a widow and ever since her husband died, she operated the town’s only candy store. It became well known all over the town, and grew with the ever-increasing tourist trade. After we graduated from high school, Mrs. Shickman who was growing old, asked if Minnie and I would like to help her working in the store. We quickly agreed. That was the start of a long relationship, which led to my proprietorship of the store and partnership with friend Minnie.
Mrs. Shickman lived in the back of the store in two rooms and a bath until she became ill and had to go into a nursing home. Minnie and I visited her on alternate days and took care of the store while she was in the nursing home. One day we had a visit from her nurse who told us Mrs. Shickman died early that morning. We were quite saddened since we three were like family. The nurse said she thought we should continue to operate the store until her lawyer or a family member would contact us.
In a few days, Mr. Parkersmith, a local lawyer and one of our regular customers for chocolates and jellybeans, came to advise us that Mrs. Shickman had a will. In the will, she left her store, the building and all of her cash in the business account to us. It was now our store. That’s how we started our enterprise” said Winnie, the co-proprietress. Minnie and Winnie’s Penny Candies. “God bless Mrs. Shickman.”
“Soooooooo”… she said, “your name is Winnie too? Would you like a jelly bean, Winnie?”