I GREW UP IN THE 1950s in Medford and spent many hours walking back and forth to the park near my house, my eyes trained on the ground. Back then, it was a big deal to find a penny on the sidewalk — it could buy an entire stick of licorice at the corner store. You wouldn’t dream of not taking a second to stop and pick up a penny.
I tended to frequent a store across from Hickey Park. It was famous for offering the best 5-cent cup of homemade lemon slush on the planet, but I usually visited for the cheaper stuff. Ensconced in the gleaming glass case was a vast array of penny candy: licorice, peel-off candy buttons, Squirrel Nut chews, jawbreakers. I ate them all, and it’s a small wonder that now, at 67, I still have any teeth left.