OFF THE LEASH: The Candy Cupboard …

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When I was a kid we’d hop on a Greyhound bus and take a trip back to my mother’s home town, Winterset, Iowa, and spend the summer. Winterset is a quintessential Iowa farm town that is also home to the famous covered bridges of Madison County.

While in Winterset, I’d work the register at my Aunt Dobbin’s corner store and the local girls would come by and check out the strange boy from California.

One my favorite memories of Winterset was a little candy store downtown called The Candy Kitchen. My sister and I would walk into town and spend some of the money we’d made on jawbreakers, waxed lips and, our favorite, chicken bones. Small towns and candy stores seem to go hand in hand.

Patty McKee passed away last week and I want to thank her for giving my kids some sweet memories to carry through their lives of their own small-town candy store, The Candy Cupboard.

I remember when the kids were young, maybe 6 or 7, and they’d get bored during the summer, as kids are apt to do. They would come and ask for couple of dollars, and permission to walk into town so they could buy some candy at The Candy Cupboard. Or maybe I’d take them for a treat when they brought home a good report card?

They had their favorites, as all kids do. Madison loved sour candy, the sourer the better, a choice I never understood.

The Candy Cupboard is an icon for the children of Idyllwild. I’m so grateful I could raise my children here in Idyllwild where kids still have a shot of a carefree childhood.

I’m grateful I found a place where Travis, Madison and Georgia could walk into town without worry and enjoy some good sweets. I’m grateful for Patty, who always had a smile on her face and a friendly greeting. I’m grateful for The Candy Cupboard. I’m grateful for stumbling into Idyllwild 20 years ago and finding my home.

Here’s to Patty McKee. She created something our kids will always remember. Someday they will tell their kids about it. She made all our children’s childhood sweeter.

Rest in peace, Patty. Heaven could always use a good candy store, for the children and the young at heart. Do me a favor Patty — set aside some chicken bones for me.

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