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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Number 218: Lawrence Ferlinghetti "The Pennycandystore Beyond The El"

The Pennycandystore Beyond The El

The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first
fell in love
with unreality
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that September afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved among
the licorice sticks
and tootsie rolls
and Oh Boy Gum

Outside the leaves were falling as they died

A wind had blown away the sun

A girl ran in
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little room

Outside the leaves were falling
and they cried
Too soon! too soon!

-- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Hap Notes: My apologies for not figuring out how to format this poem correctly. My computer and this format are more intractable than an IBM Selectric (which would have accomplished it with no complaints, btw). Ferlinghetti's spacing is not exactly like this and I wrestled with it for an hour and gave up---however, the words are brilliant in any format and it's such a good poem.

My two favorite things in one– poetry and candy. And it's Saturday, too! However there's a shadow on this poem as the poet realizes that life and pleasure and the whole mystery of it is going by very very quickly- too soon! Too soon! The sparkling raindrops on the girl's hair, the heady smell and colors of candy, the rattling of the elevated train (the El) perhaps, the fall rain that brings on such a contrast between indoor lights and the outside gloom, the sharpness that each and every thing seems to contain in a moment of blissful and wistful epiphany; it's all in this short poem.

Penny candy (it's clever than Ferlinghetti runs these words together) was such a wonderful thing. When I was a kid (back when Lincoln was president) one bought candy by the pound or the piece at the department store (like Marshall Fields or even Sears) or a candy store. The candy would be put in a little white bag. I particularly liked a candy called "Peas and Carrots": little round green candies and little orange cubes of candy that resembled the vegetables one got at a cafeteria. Usually the candy store also had a revolving roaster for cashews and peanuts and Brazil nuts that smelled delicious, too.

And yes, candy really was about a penny a piece or three pieces for a nickel. Candy bars were not as good a deal- they were about a dime and a dime could buy ten pieces of different candies at the penny candy counter so you could get licorice, cinnamon, mint, peanut butter, cherry, orange, lemon, grape, a piece of gum and chocolate if you wanted. (yes, I was one of thos O/C types that wanted one of each- the hard part was figuring out the order in which to eat them.)

It's Saturday so here's some video fun:

Sour is not a new flavor profile. Dig this Adams gum ad with the cool 60s music (well, I liked it)

My grandma always had a pack of Teaberry gum in her purse and I love the stuff. Teaberry refers to the herb, Eastern Teaberry, and it has a faintly minty taste. Sorta like wintergreen a little. Here's Herb Alpert with the "Teaberry Shuffle". (It was called the "Mexican Shuffle" but it was changed for the commercial- with a dance!)

Yes, the 60s made everything about being hip and on the beach. Here's an ad for Bit-o-Honey that is full of 60's "youth culture":

We used to sing this stupid Chunky song when I was a kid:

Three Musketeers bars were originally called that because they featured three little candy bars, one vanilla, one chocolate and one strawberry nougat. Then they went to a big chocolate nougat bar which one was supposed to share. I don't believe this worked out very well. Here it is:

Here's the original Snickers bar. They sound delicious. Too bad they aren't made like this anymore:

Here's where we've talked about Ferlinghetti before:

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