Day 29: W. F. Ward, Confectioner, 1958


Out on the porch it’s August,
But it’s cool inside and dim, one bulb suspending from a cord.
A slim brunette holding a bottle of Royal Crown Cola
Smiles down from above the mirror.
In the back, where it’s dark and you’ve never been,
Sit two small, dusty tables and four delicate chairs.
Once, flappers and their beaus
Sipped sodas there and flirted,
But now they’re ghosts.
Behind the marble counter stands Dick Ward,
Eighty years old to your seven, and deaf, and wiry as the chairs,
Blue eyes dancing.
“Chocolate, please,” you say.
He leans down, tilts his head.
You stand on tiptoe, breathe deep, shout.
Of course, it’s just a game, because
He knew before he asked.
He dives down, disappears into the marble, rises with a cone,
Huge, double-dipped,
And proffers it.
You hand him your nickel.
“Thank you.”
As you turn to leave, Mr. Perry shuffles in.
“Bugler!” he rasps,
And as Dick reaches for the tobacco
You know that’s wrong,
Because your grandfather smokes Bull Durham,
And anyway,
How could anyone pass up chocolate?


“W. F. Ward, Confectioner, 1958” first appeared in the 2008 issue of True Words Anthology, a publication of Story Circle Network.


2 thoughts on “Day 29: W. F. Ward, Confectioner, 1958

  1. This is such a beautiful piece of writing, Kathy.
    You have the most amazing gift of evoking atmospheres I have never come close to experiencing. You broaden my horizons 🙂
    Thank you. I shall miss you daily…


    1. You’re very kind, Kate. This piece began as an exercise in a workshop. Ask anyone who lived or visited in my hometown over a sixty-year span what they remember, and they would answer, “Dick Ward and nickel ice cream cones.” Generous double dips. The price never went up. Dick said the ice cream wasn’t any better in 1965 than it was in 1905, so he didn’t see why he should charge more. I’m among the last of the children who had the pleasure of trading there, and if I’ve preserved and shared any part of that experience, then I’m happy.

      The daily writing has been a good experience, too. I’m wondering whether I could manage thirty-one days…


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