My dad owned and operated a vending business that was started by his father. They serviced a huge area that spread from southwest Kansas up to northwest Kansas into Nebraska and Colorado. I loved riding on the candy truck and when my sister and I were babies, my mom would occasionally set up a play pen in the truck and we would all go on the route with my dad. We couldn’t go anywhere without my father looking at other vending equipment. He’d comment on what they had stocked, if the machine was clean, and then take note if they had their business card visible.
We always had the expired candy and chips in our pantry. I went through a phase where I wouldn’t touch a chocolate bar because I thought they were all chalky white and yucky and potato chips did nothing for me. My friends though, thought they’d died and gone to Willy Wonka’s Heaven when they saw the stash on chips and candy.
My sister and I would walk to my father’s business after school to wait for my mom, who was the secretary, to get off of work. We would climb the mountain of boxes holding the candy and make a little nest in the middle of the pile so we could break into a box and help ourselves to the candy without being seen. I remember going though quite a few M&M’s.
My dad was out on the route a lot and I didn’t see him very often. He went to bed right after the news and was out the door before I ever stirred in the morning. It was a bit like my dad was a baker. He had a very strict routine in the morning and I knew he was headed out the door when I heard the familiar scrape of his keys being picked up off the bathroom counter and the jingle as he fastened them to his belt loop and then his quick footsteps down the hall with every other step producing a rattle of over twenty machine keys bouncing on his hip.
My dad is now in his late 60’s and has been retired for ten years. He’s a much happier man now that he doesn’t have to get up before the sun and run a business. Last winter I took this video of him when he was on his way to ride his bike somewhere. I’ll never forget the time he was unwrapping a candy bar and said to me, “I sold an awful lot of these things to pay for your college.”
Fast Tube by Casper
When my grandfather passed away, the pianist played “Candy Man” as we exited the sanctuary and the florist, with my mother’s direction, had decorated one of the large floral arrangements with little candy bars. My dad offered both my husband and my sister’s husband the opportunity to move back to western Kansas and take over the business, they both declined the offer with good reasons. Dad sold the business to another family and now there are no more candy men in our family.
Fast Tube by Casper