Kage Baker hated change. Not all change, of course – though she at least resented most of it. Change that affected her personally was what she always regarded with a leery eye; she expected the worst of it, and was seldom entirely disappointed in that expectation.
She was particularly perturbed by physical changes. Old buildings coming down, old brands disappearing, old roads being replaced – they were all wounds in her world-view, and it was very hard for her to come to terms with them. She might no longer eat Life Savers on every car trip – though once she had – but she was outraged when she discovered that her favourite flavours (violet, clove, tangerine, cinnamon) had vanished.
Candies, in fact, were one of the Great Ghastly Sargasso Seas of lost items: and a large proportion of her time on line was spent finding old favourites, or a modern equivalent. Some can be found – if you loved Mars Bars, the Almond Snickers will do. If you loved the Chicken Bones that only showed up in Halloween bags, try Chik-O-Sticks. Milky Way Midnight approximates Forever Yours. Black Jack and Clove gums occasionally show up, but Beechnut Gums are among the vanished.
Regal Crown Sours, Flicks, Caravelles, Adams Sour Gum, Sugar Mama, Pom Poms, Brach’s Neapolitan Cocoanut Sundaes: gone, all gone. They belong to the distant lands of childhood, and as Treebeard laments, All those lands lie under the wave.
And if you think that the sweeties that formed the landscape of Kage’s youth are not worthy of a good lament – well, loss is in the eye of the bereaved. She loved ferociously, and she hated change, and she mourned every alteration in the geography of the past.
It’s a good thing that family and friends mostly did not begin to die until she was a grown woman. Though one grandmother and Betty Jean, Momma’s first child, did die when Kage was tiny, she remembered them. She remembered them clearly, but with the toddler’s world view that was hers when she knew them: I think they were never really gone for Kage. Not the way our parents were; or later, our playmates …
Those losses are impossible to fill. They can be survived, but they cannot be un-made. And there you have the deepest source of Kage’s Universe. What could not be replaced was memorialized, and immortalized, too; from tailor’s shops on Hollywood Boulevard to specific rose bushes on the driveway up to the old Japanese embassy above the Magic Castle.
It helps. I learned that writing Nell Gwynne II, when I wrote Kage into the Ladies’ household. And writing stories like “Pareidolia”, where I had to write in her voice: that helps too. It’s one the best reasons for me to keep going, that I can hear her while I work.
Maybe I can go on EBay, and find me some Milkshake Bars. Or Merri Mints! I loved those things, and the only thing that comes close are pastel mints from See’s, that they only make for Easter … but! You know what, Dear Readers? I’ve just now been informed that some other fanatic has re-produced them, and I might be able to find them freshly made at oliverscandies.com!
Oh, man, I gotta have those. I’m off to check this out, Dear Readers. Because Merri Mints will be just the fuel I need to power through the end of the Teddy Bear Squad vs. the Purple Squirrels …
Yoiks, aroo and tallyho!