Growing up in Tonawanda in the 50's, when I look back at it now, was pretty neat. Of course, these were the days before computers, cell phones, Nintendo, and all that stuff.
We played outside all day and our mothers never knew where we were but they didn't worry either.
My mother whistled when she wanted us to come home to 159 Findlay Avenue. She would stand at the foot of the driveway and whistle down the block, one long note followed by a second lower note, and we always knew it was her.
We lived around the corner from Ted's Hot Dog stand. If my sister Bernadine and I could wheedle a quarter out of my mom, we'd go there after school for a bottle of pop and some popcorn.
If we didn't have any money we'd collect pop bottles in our red wagon and return them to the A & P. The small ones were worth 2 cents and the big ones went for 5 cents. We could get candy bars then, 6 for a quarter at Leader Drugs, and they were way bigger than the fun-size candy bars you get today.
Another favorite place was Jet Donuts across the street from Ted's. It's gone now but to this day I have never eaten a Bavarian cream donut that could rival theirs.
And of course, for anybody who lived in Tonawanda, there was Anderson's Custard stand - still thriving today. Their lemon ice was to die for. I was in Tonawanda last summer and my sister and I stopped at Anderson's. I had the lemon ice.
I don't know if it changed or if my taste buds had gotten older but it didn't taste the same. It had a chemical aftertaste and was nothing like the lemon ice I remembered - tart and sweet at the same time and so refreshingly lemony that you ate in in tiny bites to savor the flavor as long as possible.
Many of my memories of my childhood revolve around food. Lots more revolve around St. Amelia's and the Polish nuns who ruled our lives.
But that's another post.