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Norway's 'sweetest spot' to return Nov. 24
NORWAY — Fletcher's Candy Store, referred to by locals as the "sweetest spot in Norway," will return to Main Street on November 24.
During the annual Christmas Parade, members of the Norway Historical Society will recreate the spirit of the 1900s Fletcher's Candy Store at the Norway Historical Society museum, by providing homemade candies, cookies and other treats donated by local residents.
Members of the historical society request those who make homemade candy of any kind – fudge, peanut brittle, taffy, popcorn balls, Needhams – to donate them to the Norway Historical Museum, located at 471 Main Street.
Money made from the sale of the candies will go toward sustaining the historical society, says Marion Howe, a historical society board member who fondly remembers the candy store.
According to Society Curator Charles Longley, Fletcher's was founded on November 7, 1903 by John H. Fletcher, and was first housed in the Hathaway Block on Main Street next to Stones Drug Store – Spare Closet, which later became Greenleaf's Café.
There the store operated for 10 years until it moved into Tubbs Block at 115 Main Street next to J.J. Newberry's. In 1922 it moved to the corner of Danforth and Main Streets, which now co-houses the Dragon's Lair and the Village Gift Barn, say historical society members.
Fletcher's remained on the corner of Main and Danforth until the late 1950s, with its old-fashioned tin ceiling, hardwood floor and large picture window that displayed walls of candy and other sweet treats.
The shelves featured handmade chocolates, candy canes and ribbon candy in all colors of the rainbow, remembers Carol Raymond, a family-friend of the Fletchers, who says she basically “lived” in the candy store.
In 1953, at the age of 82 and after nearly 50 years of running the store, Fletcher passed away at his home from failing health; meanwhile, from 1947 to 1957, Mr. Fletcher's son, H. Le Roy Fletcher took over and ran the business, says Longley.
“I think it's important to realize that a lot of people came to Norway because Norway had a reputation as a thriving small community,” Longley explains. He says many people from Portland came to Norway to start businesses, especially in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1957, Le Roy, better known as Roy by locals, handed the business over to his daughter Sandra.
For three generations the Fletchers satisfied the sweet tooths of local mill workers and, as Howe fondly remembers, the children walking to and from school.
“In those days,” says Raymond, “the shoe shops were full blast next door. A lot of girls who worked in the shop came over to Fletcher's for lunch.”
Raymond says she specifically remembers the giant, six- to eight-foot candy cane that was handmade each season and put on display in the shop window for everyone to guess its weight.
Whoever came closest to guessing its weight was able to bring the candy cane home with them, Raymond remembers.
Howe says the candy was expensive, at least as a kid she thought, aside from the penny candy. She even remembers one of her friends eating 12 mint juleps. "He put them all in his mouth at one time," she laughs.
"My favorite was milk chocolate with a white [chocolate] inside and a walnut on top," says Raymond, as well as the fudge.
"All of his candies were homemade," says Longley. "Every single one – and from scratch."
He remembers in particular that every Christmas his family would purchase dark chocolate bark and roasted nuts.
Even though the store has closed, the giant candy cane tradition continues – Every year, Village Gift Barn owner Terri Linnell displays a four-and-a-half foot long candy cane, and like Fletcher's original, it's given to the person who comes closest to guessing its weight.
According to Howe, the historical society is interested in recreating historical events, as it did during Norway's Sidewalk Art Show in July when it reenacted the early 1900s Marigold Tea Room at Norway Lake where people would stop in for pie.
“I thought, it's Christmas time, let's do something historic,” says Howe of the upcoming November 24 event.
"We're trying to see the value in history. Main Street had a history of its own," says Howe. The historical society hopes to bring some of that history back.
“Fletcher's was always a wonderful spot to walk by,” Howe remembers. According to Howe, John Fletcher was a “large man. He always had this big, white apron on. He was very jolly, and very patient,” she says.
Aside from candy, Fletcher's was also known for its ice cream, Raymond says . “He had a soda fountain in the back … and they had ice cream, but the whole left-hand side was candy,” she remembers. “He had minimal groceries.”
According to Longley, at Christmas time, "the whole front of the store would be ringed with small candy canes."
His main memory of Fletcher's is when the owner would sit over "a massive, galvanized cauldron ... on top of a heating apparatus, where he would be making up some items, whether he was roasting nuts or working with chocolate."
"And the ribbon candy – they made all kinds," Longley remembers.
To donate candy or any Fletcher's memorabilia to the historical society, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Marion Howe at 743-2647.