An old-fashioned shop tries to evoke a simpler time
Published: September 12, 2012
Jordan explained the boy's wishes to his father. "I told him, 'He don't want to be called that.' I'm gonna just tell you how he said it. He said, 'Nigga, you don't want to be called that?' That's how he talked to him. That's just the way they talk to them."
Some kids come in hungry because their parents haven't fed them, and she gives them a meal. They eat it in the shop because if they take it home the parents sometimes take the food for themselves.
Others come hang out because their parents didn't take them to class that day. "Some of these kids tell me that they didn't go to school 'cause their parents didn't wake them up. So they just didn't go to school. It's just like they're on their own. You're in a place where it's not that their parents don't care, it's that they're young, especially the single moms. These little girls come over, having all these babies. I tell them, 'Why don't y'all take some birth control or something?' A lot of pastors don't agree with that, but I just tell them like it is."
You never know what chance encounter might steer these kids from their likely fate, she thinks.
"Most of these kids, they kind of raise themselves," Jordan says. "So I try to be educational with the young people. I'm in the hood, but just because you're in the hood don't mean you can't be intelligent. It's just a whole lot of stuff I do."
Terry Riley picks out pieces of candy a penny's worth at a time for the young customer on the stool at the window.
She's one of several volunteers who works here without pay. There's not enough money to be made in a candy store to hire paid employees. But between her two daughters and family friends, enough people believe in this shop to devote their time to this refuge from east side life.
"Pastor Jordan ministers to them, and they know that she loves them and they feel that when they come here," says Riley. The 51-year-old met Jordan at the tire shop over two decades ago, and now attends her church, which is right next door to the shop. Jordan can count on one hand the number of regular worshippers who attend now, but Riley says that's OK because the candy shop serves the same purpose.
"It's like a ministry," she says. "You're serving the community. When she first opened it was really rough. Some of the kids that came in were into lots of things, stealing and breaking into cars. But the personality of the kids has changed. It seems like they're more respectful."
One of the store's young customers comes in the door, hoists himself on a round stool and waits patiently in silence for someone to take his candy order. "That little boy out there now, that's Jacob," Jordan says of the 11-year-old. "Jacob used to be so bad. I mean, he was terrible — smart mouth, all kinds of stuff. I said, 'Jacob, you don't have to be like that. You're going to be a good boy.' And when he comes in here he's not like that."
She peeks around the corner. "Hey, Jacob," she shouts. "Yes, ma'am," he replies.
Detroitblogger John is John Carlisle, who scours the Motor City for his stories. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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