While in my hometown last weekend, I remembered one of the best places of my childhood:
Ted's Tobacco Store.
It was on a corner of our downtown, housed in an architecturally significant building, complete with a rounded, pointed tower prominently filling the corner. The front entrance was a lopsided green screened door in the summer, and a heavy wooden thing in the winter that sounded the bell inside. Evidently Ted's had once been a bank, and the venerable dark wood trimmings and vault were still visible.
Ted's was another block down on the right,
but it was similar to the turreted building on the right you see here.
Ted's had an amazing aroma: a mixture of chocolate, peppermint, and cigars. The most important feature was the soda fountain, where we'd sit on old fashioned bar stools and order cherry cokes, vanilla cokes, or chocolate ice cream sodas. Ever had one? I haven't had a great chocolate ice cream soda in years, and they are hard to describe to my kids.
Ted's also had the most amazing glass-cased array of penny candy. We kids would stand there for hours making the exact right choice for our dime. I'm sure the staff hated to see us coming. This Norman Rockwell print captures the memory almost exactly.
Ted's also carried all the comic books - Archie was my favorite - and I think they carried the girlie mags but I never noticed. And of course they sold tobacco - pipes, cigars, papers, bags, etc. I'm a rabid non-smoker but I do love the smell of bagged tobacco. And pipe smoke.
Above Ted's was an apartment occupied by my friend Kristy's Grandmother. I thought it was utterly exotic to live above a downtown store, and my book-fevered childhood brain felt that must be what it was like to live in New York City. When visiting, she'd make us finger sandwiches with the CRUSTS CUT OFF!! I thought I had died and gone to heaven, or Manhattan. My mother would never consider cutting the crusts off my sandwiches.
Sadly, no photos exist that I could find of Ted's Tobacco Store. It's now a gift shop and has none of the old feel. Sigh. . . . . I must be getting old.