Today Kish is going to travel north for a short visit with Russell, and she’s bringing along a care package of sorts: a box filled with some vintage candies and a bag of peanut-butter-and-chocolate buckeyes. It’s the kind of gift that helps to warm a cold winter’s day.
Our rental is located near the Schmidt’s Fudge Haus, which not only offers fresh handmade fudge but also has a ridiculous selection of vintage candies that you probably haven’t seen recently: Necco Wafers, Bonamo’s Turkish Taffy, Mary Janes, Chuckles, candy cigarettes, yellow gum cigars, Teaberry gum . . . the list goes on and on. As you walk down the aisle of goodies, looking at candies you haven’t thought of in years, it calls back fresh memories of childhood and strong recollections of precisely how those candies felt and tasted. Who doesn’t remember the dusty, chalky feel of candy cigarettes and their brittle, sugary crunchiness? (Not that I am suggesting that you’d want to give them to a young child these days, but things were different back in my smoke-filled childhood.)
I’m guessing that Russell will enjoy dipping into this candy care package.
Yesterday Kish and I had a fine day at our new digs in German Village. We took some nice walks through the neighborhood and Schiller Park, enjoyed looking at the old homes, discovered a store that sells vintage candy (including Bonamo’s Turkish Taffy, the Great White Whale of hard-to-find candy of yesteryear), and experienced first-hand the straight shot five-minute “commute” to my office.
We had lunch at the Olde Mohawk, a comfortable former speakeasy turned neighborhood joint that I’d never eaten at before. As Kish and I chatted and I was enjoying a very tasty Great Lakes Brewery seasonal Christmas ale and a juicy cheeseburger at the Mohawk, I was brimming with enthusiasm for our new adventure.
This display of boosterism made Kish smile, because it is a familiar trait. When I quit smoking once and for all more than 20 years ago I promptly began raving about how great it was to be smoke-free and how I couldn’t believe that I — or anyone else for that matter — ever smoked in the first place. When we go on trips overseas I wax rhapsodic about the interesting culture, architecture, and food. When Richard and Russell started at their various institutes of higher learning I praised the almost tangible sense of scholarly purpose those academic bastions exuded.
In short, I tend to approach most ventures — that is, those not involving being a sports sports — with wide-eyed enthusiasm. Why not? There’s time enough for brutal reality to intrude and temper perceptions, but if you can’t be enthusiastic at the outset you’re missing out on part of the fun.