, Port Arthur, Texas


July 8, 2006

PA’s Nelson celebrates birthday milestone

Candy store owner turns 111

PORT ARTHUR — Life has been sweet for Thomas D. Nelson, Sr.

The Port Arthur man has seen his community grow, watched racial tensions dissipate and experienced the world expand with modern conveniences all from behind a perch in a candy shop.

The creator and proprietor of Nelson’s Confectionery on Lincoln Avenue celebrated his 111th birthday Saturday surrounded by his friends and family.

“I was born in 1895,” Nelson said proudly as he sat at the head of the table in his Port Arthur home. “We sold candy and drinks in the store. Candy sold for one cent and up.”

When pressed for what his favorite type of candy was, Nelson smiled broadly and said all of them.

“Candy never changes,” he said. “All of them are all right as long as they are sweet.”

Nelson and his wife opened the candy shop in the mid 1930’s, Earl Nelson, Sr. — Thomas Nelson’s son — said.

“We built that store from the ground up,” Earl Nelson, 77, recounted. “We sold soda waters, candy and other treats. And I had to work in the store if I wanted any money.”

Thomas Nelson said he decided to open the store to make revenue for his family, which included a wife and seven children.

“I decided to open the store to help along with the family,” he explained. “All the kids worked in the store. And sure, they got free candy. You can’t stop kids from eating candy.”

Located in the perfect spot, Nelson’s Confectionery proudly served the Lincoln High School students as their sweet shop for more than 60 years.

Nelson’s granddaughter Judy said the store finally closed sometime around 2002.

A Louisiana native, Nelson and his wife moved to Port Arthur during their younger years and started a family.

“I got married a long time ago,” he said. “All of our kids were born right here in Port Arthur.”

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