Friends, family savor sweet memories with The Candy Lady

  • Alice Selke, aka "The Candy Lady," gathered with family and lots of friends, reliving fond memories of when she was the pied piper of her Hoffman Estates neighborhood because of the treats she gave out to the neighborhood children.

    Alice Selke, aka "The Candy Lady," gathered with family and lots of friends, reliving fond memories of when she was the pied piper of her Hoffman Estates neighborhood because of the treats she gave out to the neighborhood children. Courtesy of Selke family

 
Published8/1/2008 12:04 AM

During Hoffman Estates' yesteryear, neighborhood youngsters scrambled to stand under a rainfall of candy to catch sugary treats thrown into the air by "The Candy Lady."

It was the "candy scramble" when children stood under the downpour of the sticky treats long before piñatas were popular. Alice Selke thought it great fun to gather the neighborhood children into her yard to scramble for the wrapped sweets.

 

Memories focused on fun in the old neighborhood recently when Selke, "The Candy Lady," was the main attraction at her 90th birthday party held recently in the Schaumburg gardens of her youngest daughter Deb Kibby who with her husband, Bill, hosted the gathering that included the music of the Johnny Matt Trio.

"Growing up in our neighborhood in the early '60s was awesome," Kibby remembered. "After a long summer's day of swimming, my mom would open the front door and yell, 'candy scramble,' and all the kids from the block would come running as my mom threw handfuls of candy."

One of the guests Sue Kramer, who fondly remembers those sweet days, artfully filled a big basket with candy and in bright letters labeled it "Candy Scramble."

Selke, the wife of the late Carl Selke the first paid fire chief, distinguished herself in the early days by acting as the 24-hour dispatcher for the volunteer fire department. With such a watchful occupation, she was homebound for 15 years so she combined two loves: that of fire chief's wife and children's caregiver.

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"Mom couldn't go anywhere," Kibby said, "so she would baby-sit for the neighborhood and firemen's kids. She baby-sat for hundreds of children over the years and later many of them brought their children to her as well."

Diane Verba-Bergman and Bernie Pfeiffer, two for whom Selke baby-sat 45 years ago, attended the party and so did some of the original families including Jim, Rose, Kimmy and Jack Kramer, Sheldon, Joan and Sue Kramer, Mari Procido-Vingua, Joanne Procido, Chris Ellinthorpe and Sue Ellinthorpe Larson.

"The children were like my own and all have come back to see me through the years," Alice Selke said.

Candy wasn't the only commodity Selke offered.

"I'd have hot dog days, Popsicle days and watermelon days, too," she said.

Alice Selke is so popular that the original 50 invitations ballooned into 150 guests, according to Kibby who with her brother, Don, and sisters, Sandra and Barbra, joined the scramble. A former Hoffman Estates Fire Department lieutenant, Don, his wife, Judy, and their four children and nine grandchildren traveled from Phoenix for the event.

Besides Don Selke, other former firefighters at the party were retired Lt. Bob Scholl, Ken Rogner and Vince Soliz. Some of the children of early firefighters, who helped celebrate were Jim, Dave and John Danowski, sons of the late Lt. Jerry Danowski, and Scott Sutherland, son of Bob Sutherland who was a Hoffman volunteer and before his death was chief of the Schaumburg Fire Department.

Her mother still holds her love of children says Kibby. "She watches my two younger girls and my sister's 9-month-old grandson Jimmy. I call my mom the pied piper of Hoffman because she always had kids around her and still does even at the age of 90," Kibby said.

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