"IT WAS while I was recuperating from an operation in a hospital that I got the idea of selling candy," said Mrs. Hazel Barner, who owns a thriving candy shop in the lower valley. "I read an article which told how much candy was consumed in the United States every year—billions of dollars worth! I had been racking my brain to think of something I could do to help us out of the hole the cotton crop had thrown us in.
''That article set me to thinking fast. I could cook. Been doing that since I was 8 years old. "So the minute I was able, I made some fudge and divinity and took samples in to a local dry goods store. They agreed to give it a try."
THREE times a week, Mrs. Barncr drove 15 miles from the farm in the lower valley with her little package of candy. Her husband laughed good-humoredly at her. If it made her any happier to do that it was all right with him.
It sold all right. Every day after finishing, or that is, reaching a stage in her work where she could stop, she experimented with candy. She'd keep one eye on the baby who was 3 ½ - years old, and the other on the stove. Her equipment? An aluminum kettle, ordinary size, and a candy thermometer, second hand.
"I spoiled lots of sugar and butter and cream. One night I went to sleep with my hands in a bowl of fondant I was trying.
"DISCOURAGED? Yes, but it never occurred to me to stop, I sent away for a recipe book: cost me $6.50. After three or four trials I laid it aside. Nobody can tell you how to make candy. Experience is the only way to learn the little tricks that make for good results. You learn the proportions, the temperature of your stove, when to take it off how long to cream it—everything by trying it out.
"As my candy was selling I began to buy little sacks of other kinds, 25 cents at a time. I took it home and examined it carefully. Then I tried it out for myself. I'd work and work till it turned, out like I wanted it. And
I always tried to improve on it. I was a year learning to make English toffee."
SEVERAL months after she started to selling fudge and divinity they moved up the valley to another farm. She gradually increased the varieties she was carrying to town. Her orders increased.
"One day I told my husband I believed I could make a success if I had a place on the lower valley road where I could sell to tourists, too. We were both sick of farming.
"This place was standing here ready it seemed. It didn't take us long to make up our minds."
AND two years after the day she drove into town with her samples, they moved into the little shop under the cottonwoods to make candy their business.
They succeeded. From fudge and divinity to 100 different varieties.
"There was an old counter in here." she said, "We scrubbed it up and put the candy on it in boxes. The first day we took in S6. Was I thrilled?"
Now their shop, with its shining cases, cool, green walls, polished floors and soft rugs, is a far cry from the old counter.
Strange to say, the saJes didn't go the way she expected, "Tourists don't buy," said Mrs. Barner. It is to El Pasoans she sells most of her candy.
"THAT first year the business doubled. We both had our hands full. Gradually my husband took over the making of the candy and left the selling to me.
"Having been an engineer, he knows machinery, the cooling plant and all. When things go wrong, he sets them right.
"We work out new ideas together.
"Heavens, no. I have no time for parties. There are no hours in this business. We work all the time. Everything is hand-made and our shop is open till 10 at night. Sundays are our busiest days. When I go to town it's a mad rush till I get back."
Mrs. Barner was born in Rich Hill, Mo., near Kansas City. She and her husband met in El Paso. They have one child. Orris, 8 years old, whom they call “Sonny.”