Volume 9, Number 47, 2006

By Wm. Manley Nobles

Years ago when I was just a boy, before you asked a girl to go out with you, you had to have at least a dollar to treat her. In those days when you were working for 50 cents a day, that seemed a lot of money. But since I was a big spender I ventured out.

At the Capital Theatre on the lower end of town, admission was 10 cents each. That seemed a lot to see a show but you could see it over and over again if you stayed there for the second showing, which we did. At intermission I bought her a Coke and one for myself for 5 cents each. Since this was a first date with her, I didn’t want her to think I was cheap. Next door to the theatre was Capital Lunch. I ordered 2 specials, hot hamburg sandwiches, for 35 cents each, and hereby spending the remaining part of my dollar. What more could a girl want with an evening out such as this?

While walking home a couple or three miles out of town, we passed the hot popcorn wagon which was always on the street selling hot buttered popcorn at 10 cents a bag. And did it smell good.

“My, does that popcorn ever smell good,” she said.

Having spent my last dime I said, “Let’s walk past the wagon one more time and we can smell it again!”

This didn’t strike her as funny, so we kept right on walking since we had still a long way to go.

There was no good night kiss, no hug, and after I had spent all my money on her, she didn’t even say thank you. Must have been because I didn’t have any more money left to buy her some hot buttered popcorn.

I remember when my mother and I were out for a walk and I used to run ahead to look into a small store window where there were small long bags of coloured popcorn they called Long Tom. Mom would give us each a cent and we would buy a bag. That was a big treat for a little boy.

Then came Cracker Jack, a small box of candied popcorn and peanuts for a nickel. Later we had coloured popcorn balls as big as baseballs.

A few years ago I saw an ad in the paper where the original popcorn wagon was for sale. I hope someone bought that piece of the past with all its memories.

As I sit here in my easy chair and entertain my grandchildren, retired and taking it easy, I think I can smell that old familiar smell of popping corn. Since I am now deaf, I can’t hear the popping but lo and behold if it isn’t my grandson with a bowl full of hot buttered popcorn.

“Do you want some, Gramps?”

You bet I want some even if it was popped in the microwave. Let’s walk by and smell it again.