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Verdugo Views: Like kids in a candy store

This is the story of a man named Salvatore D’Amico, who was born in Italy, came to the United States and opened a candy shop on Brand Boulevard. The story came to light when Denise Hill contacted the Glendale Historical Society, seeking information on a candy store once owned by her grandparents. Her father, Frank, had worked there along with his sisters.

Later, Hill put me in touch with her aunt, Gloria D’Amico Gonzalez, who relayed the following story.

One by one, the D’Amico siblings came to the States. The oldest, Vito, went to St. Louis, then Joe went to New York. When Salvatore was 18, he too went to St. Louis. There he married a young girl, Virginia, also from Italy. They had four children, Frank, Violet, Virginia and Gloria.

Salvatore D’Amico operated a restaurant specializing in fried chicken. But he was intrigued by a friend’s candy store and often watched him work while dreaming of going to California and opening his own shop.

When the Depression hit, the restaurant failed, and in 1932 the family moved to New York, where D’Amico pressed clothes and his wife worked as a seamstress. He disliked his job and continued to dream of a candy store.

By 1940, brother Joe had moved to California and reported a land of opportunity. So D’Amico decided to follow his dream and brought his family to Glendale.

They rented a house on Doran Street and opened Daily Maid Candies at 143 South Brand, near the Capitol Theatre, according to George Ellison of Special Collections.

They specialized in chocolates, creams, peanut brittle and nut clusters and had a salted peanut display. All the candies were hand-made. Frank liked to tell customers, “Daily Maid candies are daily-made.’’

The store was open daily until 11 p.m., when the last movie ended at the theater. “By then the policemen were making their routine checks, and they liked to stop by to chat with Frank and sample the candies.”

After school, Gonzalez put on her red-and-white-checked uniform and went to work. “We all had the same uniform, my mother too. We all worked there.”

During the war, sugar and chocolate were rationed, Gonzalez said. “There were two other candy stores on Brand, a See’s and a MacFarlane. They could be open only a few hours each day because they combined their sugar and chocolate to make their cream candies and quickly ran out of supplies.”

Her father figured out how to use his chocolate ration to make nut clusters and save the sugar ration for peanut brittle and bars, thus stretching his ingredients. “He didn’t make creams during the war, except during Christmastime.” They also prepared special items for the troops. Gonzalez and her sister wrapped them in small cellophane bags and boxed them for overseas shipping.

Gonzalez, who now lives in Irvine, graduated from Glendale High in 1945. After two years at Glendale College, she went to UCLA, taking extra courses so she could graduate in 1948.

D’Amico’s dream of owning a candy store came true, she said. “Dad bought a house on Country Club Drive and furnished it beautifully.’’ In 1950, he sold the candy store to a distant relative. “But that relative wasn’t a candy maker, and after a couple of years it closed.’’

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Readers Write:

Glendale Public Library launched a new online photo gallery, “History Drive 2011,” featuring the photographs of Glenn Ward.

The library invites you to visit the site, view the photos and if possible, help identify them and also share your own memories.

To view the photos, visit http://library.ci.glendale.ca.us/historydrive.asp.

The library also invites you to contribute to an ongoing History Drive by donating your own photos of life in Glendale. Please visit the above site for more information.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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