Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Boiled Lollies

Firstly, a trigger warning.  I know that just because I did not have a horrible experience does not in any way lesson the reality and impact that this could have.

When I was young, one of the best things in the world to do was to go for a drive with Dad.  Generally he would take one or two of us at least when he went to check the waters and turn on a motor and do those little weekend jobs that could take you to many wonderful places and do many wonderful things.

Fish dead parrots out of tanks at the middle yards.

Pull up a wire or two across a creek crossing.

Try and get a bull back through to his paddock on foot - or drafted by land rover.

And sometimes (if we were lucky) go over to the neighbours.

We had a few neighbours, but the best fun of all was when we would go to Oakey, and see Keiran and Lilian - and Wayne and Judy and Jeni and Willem and Fammo and the many and varied nefarious animals and people that lived there from time to time - they had a caravan and a relatively fluid work-force.  Looking back, they seemed to be a half-way house for all sorts of interesting background stories - and knowing more of their stories the older I get (or guess at), this is possibly true.

Anyway, one of the characters was Tom, an old (probably in hindsight around my age now) bachelor who was uncomfortable with polite society - but loved to see kids smile.

He had a way of making kids smile - he had this big bag of tropical fruit lollies that had the picture of the fruit on - in garish colours against the wrapper's waxen white - that were magical.  They were hard and sickly sweet but after you sucked on them long enough, sharp cracks in the shell would appear and an explosion of chemical flavour purported to be reflective of the fruit depicted. 

He would whisper you to one side of the gathering and say what a beautiful smile you had and he would give you a handful of these sweets and enjoy that moment.

And that was it.

He was not the only purveyor of sweets - old Mrs Higgins gave apron warmed minties, the Murrays always came through with super-sweet home-made cordial - given our only chocolate and sugar consumption came in the form of Christmas and Easter, these all featured on the highlights reel.

I remember feeling uncomfortable when the "men offering children boiled sweets" became public knowledge when I was a bit older - and I was saddened that forevermore, that experience would be tarnished by the fact that, in other people's worlds, that wasn't it.