Everyone remembers the candy store of their youth. Many a little boy and girl have stared through windows looking upon sweet pleasures – tightly clutching coins in what might be their first commercial transaction. Shown here is a circa 1901 photo of John Davies’ Candy Store located on Baker Street in the present location of the Black Diamond Eagles parking lot. During those days the top penny candies included Root Beer Barrels, Black Sambos, Jaw Breakers, Licorice Whips, and Banana Chews. Tootsie Rolls have the distinction of being America’s first penny candy individually wrapped. Today, Reese’ Peanut Butter Cups and M & M’s are the top candies in the U.S. as measured by annual sales. Candy is just one segment of the sweet confectionary market which includes chocolate, chewing gum, plus candied fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
John E. Davies was fondly remembered by the children of Black Diamond. Dozens gathered each evening in his shop until it closed. Every boy was called “Johnnie” and each girl “Mary.” Davies sold more than just candy, including soft drinks, cigars, and cigarettes. He even had a slot machine to test one’s luck. A perennial favorite was Auburn Ice Cream delivered to the shop in big barrels rolled up the hill from the nearby railroad station. Although his business provided pleasure to countless customers, John Davies suffered many sorrows in his private life. Of the five children born to John and Elizabeth D. “Lizzie” (Jones), one small daughter drowned after falling in a privy, a son was killed in a gun-related accident, while a daughter died in childbirth. Yet another son preceded him in death as did his wife. By 1935, his business was closed. Davies was born in Wales, coming to America at age 16. He first worked as a coal miner in Black Diamond before operating his confectionary store. Davies died in 1950, survived by one remaining daughter. John and Lizzie Davies are buried in the Black Diamond Cemetery. This photo comes courtesy of Art Van Bergeyk, with research provided by JoAnne Matsumura. This Saturday, June 9thfrom noon to 4 p.m., the Black Diamond Historical Museum, 32627 Railroad Avenue, celebrates its annual Welsh Heritage Days to recognize contributions of Welsh pioneers like John and Lizzie (Jones) Davies.