This probably seems appalling today, but, yes, kids used to be able to buy cigarettes for their parents. I did it all the time. Oftentimes, my mother would stay in the car while I ran in the store or the gas station and bought the cigarettes. My mother smoked Winstons; my father, Lucky Strikes. And so I would run in and buy two (or sometimes four) cartons.
From 1973 to 1974, we lived in the apartment building on the north side of 79th, between Normandy and Natoma. Across the street was White Hen. I was in the third grade in 1973, and at least once a week I would dash across 79th to buy cigarettes.
I loved White Hen. The first thing I would do is go to the magazine rack, which was located in the right corner of the store. I usually checked out Mad Magazine or one of the music magazines, like Cream.
But the highlight was buying Wacky Packages. If I was lucky, I could afford a package.
I was obsessed with Wacky Packages. Literally. A few years after I started buying them, my father, my brother, and I drove to Maine, where my aunt and uncle owned a small country grocery store. I must have stared so longly at the box of Wacky Packages that my aunt gave me the entire box. Imagine: An entire frickin' box of Wacky Packages! I was like an alcoholic, except with stickers. And gum.
I loved these things. Loved them! Here are a few from my day. Enjoy!