Ella and Paul Redin in their store.
For several generations, “Mom, can we go to Ella’s” was a favorite request of the children in Grove City, Minnesota. Ella Redin operated our town’s only candy store.
Ella, with her brother Paul, owned and worked in a small grocery store located on mainstreet. A trip inside their quaint little store was a journey back in time to an earlier century. Their establishment housed a wood burning stove for heat, squeaking wooden plank flooring, shelves filled to the ceiling with can and dry goods that were retrieved for customers by using a long handled pole, an antique cash register that announced a sale with the chime of a bell as the drawer opened and most importantly a beautifully arranged and well stocked candy counter.
Paul and Ella, too, looked like souls from a distant past. She always wore her dark hair pulled back and pinned up in a bun and covered with a dark hair net whose threads were as fine as a spider’s web. Her dresses were made of cotton with small brightly colored floral patterns. To this day I am convinced that she made all of her dresses herself and was an excellent seamstress. Her black highly polished leather shoes with the thin spaghetti laces and strong sturdy heels were just like my grandmother’s. Her brother Paul was a shadowy figure in the operation. He was generally towards the back of the store helping adults. He always dressed up and wore a dress shirt and tie. Why he looked ready to go to church at a moment’s notice.
Ella Redin was Ella’s. She would meet and cheerfully greet us children at the door. After asking how we were, she would inquire as to how much we had to spend. Then she would reach over behind the counter to get out a tiny brown paper sack for our candy selections. Whether it was a nickel, dime or quarter that we had to spend, she would grab the appropriate sized bag and with a flick of her wrist pop it open ready to fill.
Once the sack was open to receive the purchases, she would patiently and cheerfully help you pick out your favorite candies by gently guiding you to the most candy at the best price. Basically, she was my and many other children’s first financial management teacher.
The candy, for the most part, was kept under an antique oak and glass counter. Her candy counter looked exactly like a candy counter in a child’s dreams. The big candy bars with all of their colorful wrappers rested on top of the glass. I did not pay much attention to those for they were physically out of my reach and financially over my budget. A full-sized candy bar in those days would cost you your whole nickel and sometimes seven cents.
My nickels were spent on the candy under the glass and some from the window display. I always bought the candy that was two for a penny. On rare occasions Ella would announce that some candies were on sale at three for a penny for just that day. Her selection of two for a penny candy was marvelous! There were licorice sticks in black, green, brown and red; malted milk balls; chocolate kisses; chocolate sixlets; cinnamon gummy coins; taffys; bubble gum; assorted hard candies; pixie sticks and many other sweet sugary delights.
After you had completed your selection she would close your bag with a twist. It was then that you gave her your money and only after you paid did that bag of candy go into you hand. Our family had the rule that you did not open your bag or eat your candy until after you had left the store. You also put your candy wrappers back into your bag. There was no tolerance for littering up main street with dicarded candy wrappers.
Ella would always smile and wave good-bye as you left her store. Actually, she would always greet you and wave whenever she saw you about town. I have never heard anyone say a single unkind word about Ella Redin.
While it has been many years since I could purchase two for a penny candy, this time of year rhubarb is a dime a dozen and sometimes free if you have nice friends and neighbors whose backyards are full of the plant. This recipe for Rhubarb Pudding Cake was shared by Phyllis Ruechert, a childhood friend of mine. Pudding cakes whether chocolate, lemon or rhubarb are quick and easy to make and are delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream.
RHUBARB PUDDING CAKE
2 cups of chopped rhubarb
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
3 Tablespoons of butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sifted flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2/3 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spread the chopped rhubarb in the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch square pan.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl stir to combine 3/4 cup sugar, butter, baking powder, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, milk and flour. (The batter should be the consistency of a pourable pancake batter, if too thick add a bit more milk.) Pour the cake batter over the rhubarb.
In a small bowl mix together the remaining sugar with the cornstarch. Sprinkle on top of the batter. Pour the boiling water over the entire fruit, batter and cornstarch mixture. (As the cake bakes the sugar topping will transform into a glaze on top of the cake as the boiling water makes the pudding in the bottom of the pan.)
Bake for 45 minutes.
Serve warm. To serve, invert the cake onto a plate, top with a scoop of ice cream then spoon some of the warm pudding over the ice cream. Delicious!
Allergy Alert: If you use real almond extract or any real nut extract a person who has a nut allergy will get a reaction. Always let you guest know if there are nuts in your baking and that includes whenever you use real nut extracts.