Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remembering Ted's Tobacco

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.


Beth said...

Oh what great memories... How I remember going to the "store" with my dime....I especially love the little bags that filled up with my 10 pieces of candy!!

Missy said...

Love it! I think the world is getting too, well, too something!

One treasure in my little life is our local movie rental place. It costs more than netflix, but the owner is a sweetheart and he likes to make fun of the movies you rent in a fun way. He plays Uncle Buck in the store every Saturday, and he welcomes you to stay and watch. He knows all the kids who come in and he keeps up on their movies, even the most silly Barbie princess ballet things, so that he can talk to them about the films just as he does with grown-ups. Plus, he somehow always manages to get the movies I want to see, even the most random indie documentary.

I'm not saying he's the soda fountain, but he has character and spirit that help make good adult life memories!

michaelg said...

I used to love this place. Haven't heard the name Ted's Tobacco in years. Thanks for the memories.

Kim Hambric said...

I kept seeing the word "was" in your post and was waiting to find out that it had been torn down. At least it has been spared that.

I grew up in Roanoke, Va. I missed out on all of those cool stores as a kid. However, near my grandmother's house, there was a teeny general store. In a room of about 12 by 18 feet they carried everything. Cokes in bottles in ancient cooling chests. Ice cream, bubble bath, canned food, freshly baked Rainbow bread from the downtown bakery. All reached from shelves that went up to the ceiling. And in the winter, the coal stove that was in the middle of the store was fired up and red hot. Lawyers today would have a field day with that.

The last time I drove by that store, it was just a boarded up shell standing in between derelict houses. I swear I could still here that screen door banging, though.

Thanks for the memories. I'll think about such stores as I am forced to shop in Target today.

Mnmom said...

Beth - dimes were so important then
Missy - I want to visit this guy!!
Michael - let's make ice cream sodas during our cookie fest next month
Kim - what a great memory!!

Churlita said...

it sounds a little like Pearson's Drug was in Iowa City. When my daughter was little, we walked into Pearson's and she said, "Is this place from the 80's?" Because to her, that was like the olden times.

Mnmom said...

Churlita - YES!!! When my twins were little we'd loved going to Pearsons for a Green River.