County of Brant Public Library Digital Collections
Reminiscences by Dale Robb
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Contributed by the Paris Museum and Historical Society, these memories written by Dale Robb regarding his life and living in Paris. Scroll down to the Full Text section below to read the first-hand account.
This unverified article originally appeared on the County of Brant wiki at It was contributed by a member of the community. It has been included in this collection for ease of research.
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.2 Longitude: -80.38333
Paris Museum and Historical Society
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Paris Museum and Historical Society
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Paris Museum and Historical Society

51 William Street, Paris, ON

N3L 1N4

(519) 442-9295

Full Text

Penny candy

As I'm writing this, my thoughts go back to "penny candy". One of my favourites was a licorice pipe with the red sprinkles on top of the bowl to simulate the glow of a lit pipe. I remember these could be purchased for two cents and for the same price a licorice "plug" or "twist" were available. Several years ago, I was in a convenience store with my nephew and his four year old son. The four year old was insisting his Dad buy him a toy, and Dad of course refused. As the "great aunt", it fell to me to buy a treat. I spied a licorice pipe and decided to purchase one for the four year old. I pulled a quarter out, speculating that inflation would certainly be covered by the twenty-five cents. Was I ever red faced when the clerk informed me that the same licorice pipe was now thirty-five cents plus tax.

Some other "penny candy" memories are of "black balls". For one cent, you could purchase three "black balls", and for a nickel you could ensure an afternoon of sweet delight at the Gene Autry "oater" at the Capitol Theatre. As you'll recall it took a long time for the "black ball" to dissolve down to the cardamom seed in the centre and because of the round hard candy, it was almost impossible to crunch up. If you weren't sucking these "black balls" hi a dark show, it was fun to open your mouth to compare the colour of your "black ball" with your friend's, since there were numerous layers and colours revealed as the candy dissolved. Sometimes we would reach into our mouths to grab the "black ball" to personally check the colour, so many of us came home from the show with black around our mouths and stained clothing where we surreptitiously wiped our mouth and hands. One doesn't see these "black balls" today, and I would presume they have been "BLACK BALLED" (couldn't resist the pun) and deemed unsafe. Remember they were the size of a marble and thereby could easily lodge in a young child's airway. The "jaw breakers" which fall into the "black ball" category were usually the size of a walnut and necessitated taking it out of one's mouth just for a "break". These were two for five cents, but didn't really have the mileage that five cents worth of "black balls" had.

Yellow coloured marshmallow "peanuts" and "mice" were also available as "penny candy". Today the Easter "peep" is reminiscent of these marshmallow candies. Honeymoons were another favourite of mine. These could be had at the Palm's for the price of two for five cents. They were an oval molasses candy the size of a looney and covered with a chocolate product - definitely low grade chocolate. Sometimes for a nickel you could get a grab bag which contained a variety of these candies, but they were usually stale and tough to chew. However, our philosophy was that the candy lasted longer in its stale state.

This was before Paris had fluoridated water and of course, many of us have lots of fillings and lost teeth, probably due to these "penny candy" indulgences.

Leg makeup

While doing research at the Museum this past Spring, this writer had the opportunity to view The Paris Star newspapers from the 1940's. Advertisements for "leg makeup" kept popping up. How history repeats itself! A July 1945 edition reported an ad for "Velva Leg Film" in two colours, "Sun Beige" and "Sun Bronze". This was an Elizabeth Arden product and sold at Crook's Drug Store (located next to the CEBC in the 40's).

Of course World War II had just ended in Europe, and would not cease in the Pacific Theatre until August. Therefore, nylon and silk (stocking material) was still in very short supply, if available at all. The Elizabeth Arden ad indicated that a $1.00 bottle of "Velva Leg Film" held "approximately 20 pairs". I assume this refers to stockings. Also the ad purports a "deliciously smooth texture, easy to use, dependably fast color ... goes on in a jiffy. Water resistant, stays on until you wash it off, wins compliments from every beholder". A similar ad in the same paper advertised Dorothy Gray "Leg Show" at $1.00 a bottle. It further states that "You're so pretty... when you show off your lovely legs with Dorothy Gray Leg Show. This silky leg make-up gives legs the smooth look of sheer silk. Never streaks, spots or rubs off. Easily removed with ordinary soap and water. In glorious golden bronze tone to blend with all costume shades".

This writer recalls her aunts and her mother using a similar product during this period. First of all it resembled some of the liquid makeup used today as a foundation base for facial cosmetics. It had an applicator that was dipped into the bottle and applied in smooth strokes up or down the legs. It appeared to be quite a thick, milky-like coat as it was applied. Because stockings had seams in "those days", it was necessary to find someone with a steady hand and a good eyebrow pencil to draw a line up the back of the leg to simulate the "seam in the nylon". This writer does not recall her father doing this, since he was not the type. An aunt must have fulfilled this chore.

Despite the ad touting the water resistant nature and staying power of this product, this writer recalls going to an outdoor event with her mother on a day when a sudden downpour occurred. Needless to say, the leg makeup "ran, became water spotted and rubbed off on white shoes and a white dress.

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Reminiscences by Dale Robb

Contributed by the Paris Museum and Historical Society, these memories written by Dale Robb regarding his life and living in Paris. Scroll down to the Full Text section below to read the first-hand account.