The Sept. 7 Food section article about the late lamented Velati's candy store evoked a rush of sweet memories that begin in the mid-1920s and continue for decades ["The Case of the Missing Caramels; Tim Beyer Tries to Bring Back a Washington Tradition."]

Whenever my mother would haul me downtown -- by streetcar, naturally -- to get outfitted for a new school year, the last stop would be Velati's. My mother seemed to have gone to school with at least half the saleswomen who wielded the cracking mallets, boxed and wrapped the caramels and worked the cash register, all under the gaze of the ever-present Mrs. Beyer. I would always be treated to a small paper bag of goodies from the available stock.

I note one significant omission from the otherwise comprehensive description of a marvelous local institution: Velati's made and served the best ice cream ever produced anywhere in the whole world. I have been told that the secret for its quality was attributable to the machine in which it was made -- a device that could have inspired Rube Goldberg's cartooning career. When attempts were made to restart the machine, idled by World War II shortages, it balked, and attempts to repair it baffled and frustrated a score of engineering consultants.

I hope that Tim Beyer's enterprise prospers, so that my granddaughters can experience one of the gustatory delights of my childhood. If he does prosper, I hope he will try reproducing Velati's ice cream. I will also be interested to learn whether modern technology has produced new dental cements capable of withstanding what must surely have been the most potent extractor of fillings ever designed by man or nature.


Garrett Park