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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: The Old Candy Man and The Old Candy Store

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Old Candy Man and The Old Candy Store

"Who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream
The Candy Man can, oh the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good".

I used to wonder about the old man in the candy shop.

Really, the old man was the candy shop. He wore tattered greys and blues. The kind of garb you might find a typical blue collar laborer wearing. A long gray beard and a creased visage reminded me of the picture of the Steipler Gaon we had in our living room. And I used to wonder about him.

What does he do at night? Where did he come from? And with his coarse European accent, why did he decide to open up a candy shop in America- here in the heart of Flatbush, of all places? What was the secret behind this man who arose at 6AM every morning to open up the small candy shop that served a maximum of two customers in the smoggy gray unpicturesque Brooklyn mornings before sunrise. Sometimes, if I came early enough, I would catch him opening up the shop. An extended ordeal that was made only more torturous by his arthritic arms. And he'd carefully roll down the heavy steel gates that reminded me of the old man himself. Both clanking, monochromatic affairs that creaked at the joints. And then I would attempt to glorify him.

I would imagine him as the survivor of countless troubles and a miracle or two. Tales I made up to glamorize and romanticize the Old Candy Shop owner. And I would wonder why he didn't modernize his shop to catch up with the new, cleaner competitor's grocery that had opened up across the avenue. It always bothered me, that newer store across the street. And when Mommy gave me a dollar to buy a candy before yeshiva, I would defiantly make my way to the old man's store; my little contrinution to the slowing of the inexorable march of progress, and the eventual shuttering of the little candy store run by the old man.

I'd walk into the store, feeling like a patron saint of old, carefully choose the red package of Sour Sticks, and extend my small hand with the solitary dollar bill in it to the old man. And to match the excitement in my face- I was getting 20 whole sticks of that sour and sugary confection- he would painstakingly drawer the bill. Slowly he moved. So slowly. Once I told him that I was in a rush; that I was trying to catch the bus. "There will be another bus after this one", he said, also slowly. How many buses had he seen? For him, the endless parde of buses meant little. Or nothing. Why should they mean something, to this man who'd seen that other parade, that parade of trains.

And I used to wonder about him. Would I ever catch him smiling? I tried to make him smile, I did. In my own little way. I'd wish him "Good Morning" in the cheeriest voice I could muster in that dank, dark store. He'd pause, only for a moment, and look up from his sefer, but monosyllabic unidentifiable grunts were all I ever received in reply.

And then one day the old candy store with the tan plastic sun protectors was shuttered by the metal gates that normally only worked at night. And soon, I moved away to attend Yeshiva out of town. And when I came back, the store had been renovated; it was now home to a group of real estate offices for a franchise firm out of Jersey that I'd never heard of. The new grocery across the street was no longer the upstart; it was now being challenged by a themed emporium that sold fruits and vegetables and even candy: all organically hand grown, whatever that meant. The inexorable march of progress.

And the candy store was no more. And the old man of the candy store was no more.

And these days, I no longer wonder about the old man in the candy shop.

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Blogger Chana said...

This post and the tribute to that candy man really touched me. It resonates; it's the same reason that I particularly love Isaac's Bake Shop in Brooklyn- for the little old man who is always learning there, his sefer out, and then helps me.

But your description, especially the darkness and the slow nature of his movement, makes him seem totally fascinating. I wonder who and what this candyman was and what he had seen.

September 14, 2009 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...

Hi Chana:

The postscript to the story, (which I didn't feel actually belonged there, it being obvious/somehow not relevant), is that the old candy man died.

I actually had a personal connection with him that I didn't know of until after he was niftar- he was a special Jew.

As for Isaac's- I used to go there sometimes on Thursday's/Friday's with a friend who knew the guy. Free cookies!

Thanks for the link, and even more for the compliment- high praise indeed, considering the author!

September 14, 2009 at 1:28 PM  

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