Aptos Market -- that's the place. As a group of misfit kids most afternoons were spent playing the season's sport at Aptos playground. The weekends saw the group playing sports (playinfg Pedro in the clubhouse with the Playground Director -- Mr. Purnia, Mr. Burton -- was also considered a sport), then getting in some sort of trouble, playing another game, and so on until dinner was on the table (and each of us was late getting home).
At some point we always drifted down the hill to Ocean Ave.and on to the Aptos Market. Each person would buy a French roll and a slice of meat and a slice of cheese. The owners always had an open bottle of mustard and an open bottle of mayo for us.
As I recall it was an Italian family who ran the market. They could not have made any real money on us, but I think that they simply liked seeing us eat. They were good people.
If you only had a nickle you could get a really large dill pickle. Also for a nickle you could get a used comic book. Such was illegal to sell them so the cover was always ripped off. Still it was a bargin.
The sharing of food was common. Of course, it was also an IQ test on which I always came out with a mental deficit. When I had the coin to buy an ice cream, it was not unusal for one of the guys to ask for bites. Most took a bite and that was that. One fellow would always manage to ask for a bite, lick the entire ice cream with his huge tongue, and then hand it back. Obviously he would always end up keeping the ice cream. It wasn't that I was stupid, it was that I was stupid with an extra dime. I fell for the trick every darn time. To this day I eat my fudge bars hidden in a closet.
Our last couple of pennies always went into the bubble gum machine. Mind you we did not see the gumballs as something to be chewed and enjoyed. Rather we would see them as weapons of power against the evil green tracked monster. In other words as we crossed back over into Balboa Terrace and up the alley behind San Benito or one of the other streets, we would lie in wait for the green monster, and as it came down Ocean Ave picking up speed from the Muni stop at Aptos and Ocean a thousand gumballs would take to the sky as the Muni man of the month was pelted still once again. And then we would be running like the wind up the alley back to Aptos Playground. And of course -- Officer Marble it couldn't have been us because we have been playing baseball all afternoon.
Oh, if you wonder, pickles didn't fly all that well. You couldn't get a good arch.