My Grandfather's popcorn wagon

I summarized the newspaper accounts about the popcorn wagon
and sent the following article to the "reader written" Reminisce magazine,

they told me that they could not use it so I posted it here on my own website

My grandfather, R. L. Peacock, aka the "Kandy Kid", opened a candy store in Oxnard California in 1906. He made all types of candy from chocolate covered treats to "pull" taffy and was well known all over the county. Customers would come from miles around to purchase his candy.

There are many stories that I could tell about this industrious man, but there is one in particular that seems to stand out the best in my mind. I did not come into this world until this story had been totally played out, and the information I have about it has come to me in the form of newspaper clippings that my grandfather had kept.

In 1907, in addition to his candy making and candy store, he placed a popcorn wagon on the street in front of his candy store. For many years he filled the little frying pan with corn, sprinkled it with salt and poured on oil to make his famous popcorn the best.

My grandfather with his popcorn wagon
(the approximate date of this picture is 1922)

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The candy store where the corn popper was used
(the date of this picture is 1924)


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In 1914 someone had stolen the popper out of a popper operated by a crippled vendor. Learning of his misfortune, my grandfather volunteered the use of his wagon, allowed him to pop his corn at the Peacock wagon, and sell it from his own wagon until a replacement popper arrived from the East.

After years of popped corn being sold on the street, the city council decided to "clean up" the town, and the popcorn wagon would have to go. Following their orders to have the sidewalks cleared of all advertising objects the city trustees started out the morning of March 30, 1922 to enforce them. The City Clerk and the Mayor made their first objective the famous Peacock popcorn wagon and the signpost displaying the words "Ye old Peacock" ice cream parlor. Like a standard bearer, the city clerk marched down the street with the post and took it to the city hall as a token of the first action of the trustees in enforcing the law.

My grandfather looked on, and it seemed hard for him to keep back the tears that began to flood his eyes. He said he would hold funeral services for the popcorn wagon at 2 o'clock that afternoon, at which time it was formally removed from the sidewalk forever. "It has stood there for 15 years", he said, "and before it goes I want everyone to witness the sad rites".

Then on November 30, 1935, the "old popcorn wagon" of R. L. Peacock, which flashed through the pages of Oxnard's history for many years, was resurrected with a shining coat of red paint covering it. That day he announced he would present to the public a popcorn popper very similar to the one he had back in 1907. The words "Back Again" were painted on the front. The popper, minus its wheels and the lower part, was placed in its new quarters inside the west window of a new candy store. He took the glass out of the popper's window and connected the gas to the popper. He said it would remain there, in compliance with the law henceforth and forever. He stated that the trustees did one of the finest things they have ever done when they made him take the popcorn wagon away. He admitted it is a great improvement to the appearance of the street and said the popper looks much better in the window.

He started popping corn at 11 o'clock that morning, and in a short time he had a considerable quantity popped. The familiar aroma of butter and popping corn was noticed by all pedestrians who passed the candy store. "You can't keep a good man down; he will rise again" he said that morning, when he resumed his work at dishing out popcorn from the "old wagon". Whether it is popcorn or candy - you can't keep the "Kandy Kid" down.

I do not know what happened to the popcorn wagon. In 1969, 20 years after my grandfather's passing, the candy store with the window where it was displayed was demolished when the city underwent a redevelopment project. Did it go to the woodshed, the junk heap, the ash can, or was it demolished with the building? I do not know. I remember the popper in the window as I was growing up, but I was never informed of its history. Had I known then what I know now, I would have made an effort to save this beloved treasure.

The candy and ice cream store where the
popcorn wagon was resurrected
(picture from 1939)

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This is the window where the popcorn wagon
was resurrected in 1935
		  
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