Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have place in your life so charged with meaning, spirit, and personality that it’s a member of your family, a dear friend, or a wise confidant. In other words, a main character in your life. This is an installment in a series of mostly true stories about Fairpop Farm, a place that became the hub and a main character in our family.

This is the story of the encounter at the Candy Shoppe that led to the farm.

What does a candy shop have to do with a farm?

As the holistic detective reminds us, “Everything is connected.” I embrace this notion, but connections aren’t always intuitive and some can seem far-fetched. The connection between a candy shop and a family farm is not far-fetched once you know this story.

The Candy Shoppe Encounter

Bevie Dee Mizell worked at the Candy Shoppe with her sister Luly. My dad and I wonder how that arrangement worked for them, because their family lived in Isabel, and the fifteen-mile trip to Bogalusa that seems like a quick jaunt to us now was a bit of a journey back in the early 20s. The YWCA of Bogalusa opened in 1917. Maybe they boarded there? Or did they stay with a relative or family friend in a spare room?

I’m not sure we can sort this out, because we didn’t ask the questions soon enough and no one thought keeping records of that ilk was important.

But there those two young Mizell sisters were, working in the Candy Shoppe, when the young millwright, Robert Nichols, stopped by for the lunch special. Located on the west side of the mill, this candy shop sold more than pralines and fudge.

Robert was new to town. We’ll never know if he really needed directions to a place in town or if he just needed an excuse to strike up more than a lunch order with Bevie.

After directions to a location on one of the alphabetized avenues and a few minutes of conversation, Robert asked, “Would you like to go to the picture show on Saturday night?”

Bevie was shy, even into her grandmothering years. I wonder if she looked up at Robert —a tall, fit ball player and new in town —or kept her head down and stared at her fingers, busying themselves arranging the counter.

“I’ll have to let you know,” she responded. Because, of course, she would need to get permission from her parents or her Bogalusa hosts before going on a date with a new kid in town.

A First Date

Leading up to Saturday, Bevie’s sister Luly taunted her a bit. “Don’t get your hopes up. He’ll never show up.”

“I think he will,” Bevie retorted.

And he did.

I have so many questions.

  • Did he show up with flowers?
  • If she and her sister were boarding at the YWCA, did he have to sign her out? Show his ID? Fill out a form?
  • Or if he knocked on the front door of in-town hosts to pick her up, did they invite him in? Ask him impertinent questions? Read him a riot act or two?
  • On the date, did they hold hands?
  • Did the theater serve popcorn?
  • After the show, did they go straight home or did they stop at a soda shop?
  • How much did they talk (always the tricky part about movie dates) and what did they talk about?

We take for granted our connections to others and to past events, and the origin of relationships and legacies. I rarely thought about my grandparents’ first date as a link to my own story, but it is.

Every day is a miracle. Another thing we take for granted is the sheer wonder of this planet we’re on and all the random personal encounters, candy shops, international events, planetary collisions, physical injuries, dirt roads in rain storms, and land for sale that led us to where we sit today, writing these words, reading this blog. And beyond this moment, I know that my words and acts will inform and stitch connections for those yet to draw air.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2024.