New York used to be a city full of candy stores and cigar stores. The classic New York candy store carried regional NYC treats (Little Chunkies, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews and Joyva Halvah) in addition to the national candy bar brands like Hershey, Nestle, Mars, etc.. It usually had a soda fountain dispensing egg creams, glasses of seltzer (“two cents plain”), milk shakes, “malteds” and simple sandwiches and coffee. It also sold cheap toys and some stationery items (“school supplies”). Cigarettes and cigars, naturally. There was a rack of magazines and comics and outside there was a newsstand. Well into the 50’s New York had four afternoon newspapers (Post, Sun, World-Telegram, Journal-American) and four morning papers (Times, Herald-Tribune, News, Mirror) and for a time, the super-liberal PM (later re-named The Compass). There were loads of foreign language papers: The Forward, Day, Morning Journal, Il Progreso, La Prensa, Aufbau, etc.). There were even two communist newspapers, The Worker (in English) and Freiheit (in Yiddish). After dinner, men strolled to the neighborhood candy store to get the early edition of the News and Mirror. The News was the better, sharper paper but the Mirror had the Walter Winchell column and the latest racing results (a necessity for the inveterate horse player).
The candy store was the hangout of bookmakers, gamblers and money lenders (known as “Shys”). Except in the Times Square neighborhood (where there were no candy stores), New York’s cigar stores didn’t attract quite the same sporting element. Candy stores flourished in Jewish neighborhoods. The tough Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. The lethal Murder, Inc. flourished there. It was typical that the Jewish contract killers (“Kid Twist”, “Pittsurgh Phil”. Albert “Tick Tock” Tennenbaum, etc.) didn’t hangout at bars. Their hangout was a candy store called Midnight Roses’s. When little HG visited his Brownsville cousins they were pointed out as neighborhood celebrities. The Brownsville prize fighters — Al Davis, Morrie Reif, Schoolboy Friedkin, etc. — had their own candy store gathering place.