Story title passed is ... /stories/BubbleGum.htm

Home Page

Warwick Stories
arwick Stories

Though I am not a writer by any means I do dabble as one as a hobby. Like a weekend golfer, at best I am a "duffer" as a literary person. Still I have scribbled many half finished stories over the years and not a few have been about Warwick. Some of you have proposed sharing your stories so I thought I would risk starting the ball rolling. Please send any and all, long or short.

Below is a story from Millie Sudman about Greenwood Lake and one I wrote about Monk Crover that I have kept for years.
More to come.

        Greenwood Lake Ice Skating
        Monk Crover
        Bubble Gum
        At the Movies
        Main Street
        Poley and Augie

Home Page

Bubble Gum

Bubble Gum


I didn’t know where bubble gum came from but I suspected that it had something to do with the war, because it was so rare. As a consequence, few things were as exciting to a five year old as the news, “They got bubble gum at Heiblim’s.”


            I’m thinking of one fall day, probably around 1945, when we heard the news from Hartley Paffenroth as he returned from Heiblim’s. “They got bubble gum,” he said and offered proof by digging into his pockets and fishing out two fistfuls of Fleers Dubble Bubble gum, in the twist-off wrappers. I could only think that he must have cleaned out the store, when I looked at Hartley’s pockets, still packed with gum.


            When Hartley came along, I was in the Grange driveway with, fellow five year olds, Frank and Francie Fotino. Ordinarily a twelve year old would have said little to us, but we were with my older brother, Johnny, age ten, and his contemporary Jackie Collins. Johnny and Jackie were standing at the base of the magnificent Chestnut tree, which stood at the driveway’s Wheeler Avenue entrance. This tree was a big part of our young lives. It was home plate and backstop in baseball games, home base too for hide and seek, toward which we ran frantically crying “Oley, Oley in free.” And in the late summer and autumn it provided us with an endless supply of shinny polished chestnuts that we made into pipes, or little men with twig arms and legs.


            When Hartley stopped to talk, the older boys were holding baton size sticks in each hand. These were heaved at the Chestnut tree’s branches, in hopes of dislodging some of the prized mahogany like nuts. Johnny and Jackie’s attention turned however, when Hartley began talking about the bubble gum.


             “When did it get there?” Johnny asked.

             “Today,” Hartley offered.

 “Is there any left?” said Jackie.


            “Better hurry,” Hartley warned. Then he stuffed the gum back into his pockets and continued on his way, down Wheeler Avenue towards his home. As he left he flipped a piece of bubble gum each to Johnny and Jackie. They caught it in basket hands, gave thanks to Hartley, twisted off the wrapping, popped the gum in their mouths and immediately started trying to blow bubbles. Then we all made a bee line for home to hunt up our life savings.


            Shortly we were back at the Chestnut tree. Hartley to my surprise was there as well. Frank, Francie and I each had a few pennies, maybe three. John and Jackie doubtless had more. And Hartley? Whatever, ... millions as far as I could tell, from the sound of the jiggling change in his pocket. We announced our holdings and then fell into line for the walk downtown. “Hold hands,” brother John barked at the twins and me and we promptly grabbed onto each other and followed behind the big kids heading down the Grange driveway. At the entrance to the Grange Hall the driveway turned right and sloped further past the Mulberry tree and through a canopy of Maples until it opened brightly onto the sidewalk of West Street right at Doc. Beattie’s office.


            As we walked and I listened to the faint scuffle of our feet on the gravel I looked at the big kids ahead of us. I was especially impressed with the way that Hartley walked. My brother and Jackie still walked like kids I thought, but Hartley walked like a man. And not just any man, but a man that was involved in some type of important and hard work, which I guess was somewhat true, being that we were on our way to buy bubble gum. Every time Hartley stepped out with his right foot he dipped that shoulder lower and then thrust it ahead as the other foot came forward. There was a hint of a limp, not an old limp that ached, but a young man’s limp, that suggested an involvement with heavy work. That was neat, I thought and I tried to imitate him to see how it felt. Holding hands and all now I couldn’t exactly duplicate it but I vowed to practice it later and eventually I guessed that I would walk like that all the time. I studied Hartley’s walk as we turned down West Street and past Garcia’s bar. We continued the block to Main Street where Olie Swinson, the town policeman led us across – Hartley walked ahead of Olie, separating himself from our pack like an advance scout and dipping his shoulder more now and taking even longer strides. When we crossed West Street Olie patted us on the head, and sent us onward to the last block, over the creek bridge and across the railroad tracks, that passed through town right along the side of Heiblim’s store.    


Inside Heiblim’s there was more excitement than a schoolroom at the start of recess. Numerous other little kids were there, the Vealy brothers, Charles and George, Brad Piggery, and Rich Logan and more than a couple of fathers, and mothers too, making purchases for their children. All of us lined up per instructions from Minna Heiblim who seemed as happy as a kid herself, relating various tales about this shipment of gum: when it arrived, how many boxes there were, and if more was coming. As Minna handed over the gum with one hand she took change in the other, talking high pitched and happily all the time. She took mostly pennies until it came to Smokey Joe Carr’s turn, which I could see was going to be one of those large stock transactions, on par with that of a Hartley Paffenroth blockbuster purchase. As Smokey reached into his pocket for change, I watched with awe but anxiousness too (would there be any left?). “Do you want a bag,” Minna said, counting out the pieces.


            “Nah,” Smokey Joe said, stuffing the gum into his pockets as he brushed yet another batch from the counter into his cupped hand.


As I watched Minna dishing out the gum to each very happy customer I decided that this was what I wanted to do for a living - own a gum store. I would sell only gum, I thought. For the store inventory all I had to do was to save all of the gum that I got my hands on, and then I could begin. I was aware that both Hartley Paffenroth and Smokey Joe could actually start a gum store now, but apparently they weren’t so inclined, and I didn’t mention it to them. I saw no need for profit at my gum store. To be honest I didn’t know what profit was. As I saw it, I would hand over gum and get money; that was all profit in my eyes. The gum would sell for the same price that I paid for it, maybe less; either way I would be making money – or profit. Collecting money – playing store - and being loved by my customers as Minna was would be lots of fun. I dreamt about my gum store almost every night before I went to sleep. I would construct it with old boards. I knew where some were. I could probably build it myself I thought as I already had some experience hammering nails. My store would have a counter. I would stand behind it, and kids and parents would line up outside. Frank and Francie might want to work there too.       


This was good I thought, as I waited my turn before Mrs. Heiblim. I had learned a lot today. I knew how I was going to walk and where I wanted to work and I could start both things right now.