Half a Stick

half-stick-gumMy father was content with half a stick of gum. He was partial to Beemans and didn’t want to waste it. Mom bought it for him by the case — if that is what you call a box of 20 or so packs with 5 sticks a piece. She kept it safe for him in an upper cabinet in the kitchen. We kids knew where it was stashed, but we also knew it was Dad’s gum, and we treated it with respect.

Now, he was willing to share his gum and often did, half a stick at a time. Because why would a kid need more than he did? At the time, I doubt I appreciated his lesson in frugality. More likely I felt deprived: Half a stick of gum? Really? That’s all I get? But half a stick of Dad’s gum was better than no gum at all, so I accepted my allotment when it was offered.

Not all gum was rationed in my family’s household. We were allowed to chew other brands by the full stick, just not the Beemans.

My half-a-stick memory was triggered during a summer car ride, when my husband offered to split his one remaining stick of gum with me. As I accepted my portion, I remembered my father’s penchant for a partial piece of gum. I gladly grabbed this mental half a stick and quickly wrote it down. I usually keep a notebook nearby to claim such bits of memory when they surface. My Dad is dead and memories are all I have to keep him close. So when these random reminiscences emerge from my mind, I hold on dearly, remember him fondly, and chew on each story he gave me.

Laura Sternweis

P.S. It seems Beemans gum is permanently part of the past — all production stopped in 2013, according to Candyfavorites.com.


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