An older generation recalls where they were when JFK was shot.
For the children of Riverton, the day of infamy was in the summer of 1985 when they heard that MaryLou’s Candy Store was closing forever after twenty-seven years!
When Mary Odorizzi retired, Emily Barth coordinated a sweet surprise party at Memorial Park for the beloved Candy Lady attended by scores of children and some adults who had patronized the store when they were kids — and they brought their kids.
In a news article published then, Mary observed that she opened in 1958 with 85 kinds of penny candy. By 1985, her stock of penny candy had dwindled to ten varieties, and candy bars had increased to 35 cents.
When Mary passed twelve years later, the news headline read, “Town mourns death of its ‘Candy Lady.'”
In her own way, the mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, Sacred Heart Church member, and Riverton Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary member memorialized in her 1997 BCT obituary certainly made another page in Riverton’s history book.
Several readers have expressed interest in wanting to know if we had any information or photos of the store back in the day, but until Marion Laffey, Mary Odorizzi’s daughter, called me recently, our archive was lacking.
Word had trickled down from their friends on social media to Marion’s daughters, Theresa Laffey Englehart and Eileen Laffey Conville, that we were seeking material on MaryLou’s.
I visited Marion Laffey, who let me borrow the following photos and news clippings. A bonus was seeing her two daughters, whom I had taught at Riverton School.
What was your go-to confection back in your day? Please leave your memory of Mary Odorizzi and the store she lovingly oversaw for 27 years. -JMc
Just adding some comments here that readers sent in by email or Facebook.
4/13/2023 from Chuck C Cattell: Piggy banks, change stashes, sofas and every square inch of my house was searched for every possible penny we could locate for each memorable visit to Marylou’s.
4/13/2023 from Susan Sheets Smith: Any time my friend Cyndee and I had change, we would run to MaryLous for a bag of penny candy, at lunchtime or after school. My mother loved the candy cigarettes and us kids would always buy her a whole (big) box for Mothers Day or her Birthday. MaryLou also sold Stockings, hankies and some greeting cards, I loved walking around her shop looking at everything. Great childhood memories
4/14/2023 from Susan Dechnik: Loved going to Mary Lou’s with my kids and seeing my Riverton students there carefully making their choices and putting each piece in the little bowl. Next step was to count the pieces and pay. MaryLou would coach them and expect them to know how to count the coins!
Yes, and I taught granddaughter, Theresa!
4/14/2023 from Elana Lotman Fariss: Sometimes I had spare change, or a few extra pennies, and my immediate thought was what I could get if I went to MaryLou’s shop. I’d get so excited because with just a few pennies, I could satisfy my sweet tooth. My favorite was the red Swedish fish. I also liked squirrel nut zippers, and Maryjanes. I think that the MaryLou shop was a favorite for every kid that I knew from Riverton.
4/14/2023 from Susan Esworthy: I remember going to MaryLou’s for candy at lunch break buying penny candy. It was the highlight of my day!
4/15/2023 from Doug Wargny: I would scour the sofa for change and spent almost every penny on strawberry shoestring licorice. It was on the counter in front of Marylou in a long box and you could pick them one at a time for a penny each. They had a tiny bit of white powdered confection of sorts to keep them from sticking together. Man I miss those days!
4/16/2023 from Lauren Perkins: Favorite memory is after coming home for lunch. My brother and I could rush to Mary Lou’s with the quarters our mom gave us and get our candy. We always had to agree to get her a couple caramel creams and bring them to her after school.
To this day, whenever I see caramel creams, I think of my little brown bag of candy with them in it from Mary Lou’s.
Her store was part of a great childhood!
4/17/2023 from Julie Dziak: What a wonderful tribute to our beautiful Grandmother, the sweetest woman ever ❤.