When a penny meant something – with a nickel you ruled the world




         I started kindergarten in January 1934 at the Hudson Street School and there he was, Ice Cream Joe. He was waiting in his horse-drawn, white enclosed wagon for his grammar school customers to head home for lunch.


Sorry, the white wagon got a little dirty.


        A nickel could buy a dixiecup in those depression days. A dixiecup was a small paper container filled with half vanilla and half chocolate ice cream.    As an added bonus there was a picture of a movie star printed on the inside cover of the dixiecup.


         I suppose Ice Cream Joe had a real name but for those of us who still remember he will always be Ice Cream Joe. He and his horse (I suppose his horse had a name) and his white, enclosed wagon will always be one. A nickel was hard to come by in those difficult times, particularly for a five year old kindergarten kid. When we did—when I did, there were choices to be made in the ice cream and candy areas. Joy and memories!


         Down the street on the corner of Hudson and some other street was Crawford’s, another magical place if you had a penny. A penny was no small thing to a kindergarten kid in those hard times.


         I thought I would add an aside. I walked to school and crossed Main Street by myself. All the young kids walked by themselves in complete safety in Freehold during those early years.


         Back to Crawford’s with a penny. This is my 81 year memory. Crawford’s was a candy store with glass enclosed display cases that ran from one end of the store to the other (about a mile it seemed at the time).  And...inside those display cases were countless penny candies of every possible description and promise of joy. With two pennies you owned the world and also faced a painful dilemma. What to choose?



         I still remember the pacing from one end of the store and back again, studying and weighing the choices. What to buy? With one penny the choice was agonizing or what passed for agony with a five year old. Two pennies provided just a bit of relief but not much. Decision time would finally come. It was a time for both joy and regrets. Joy for the choice regrets for all those penny candies left behind. Oh well, another penny would be acquired one day.


         Heckman’s will not be forgotten. It was an ice cream, malted and soda store that sold other things such as cigarettes but it was ice cream, malteds and sodas that are impressed into my memory bank. It was our (my friend’s) gathering place when we had 15 cents.



         Heckman’s was located on South Street a few stores up from my grandfather’s store, The Outlet Store. Heckman’s was the place we older kids went to (older being nine or ten years old). There were small round tables and wire backed chairs and in the center of the table was an amazing appliance that contained drinking straws. All you had to do was pull up the cover and the straws would pop up and fan out for the taking. What would they think of next?


         Fifteen cents (not easy to come by either) would buy an ice cream soda or a dish of ice cream (three scoops). 30 cents (rarely happened) bought a banana split or a malted.


         Funny, the things we remember.


Bob Flicker

April 2015


 © robert 2014