Some 73 years ago, a young and feisty 18-year-old country girl hustled to get a job in Austin, Texas. Now, at 91, Mildred Walston remains the driving force and inspiration for family-owned Lammes Candies.
“I love the job and I love the people I work with,” Walston told ABCNews.com. “The candy there is out of this world, so are the customers and the [Lamme] family I grew up with.”
“I wanted to work as soon as I got out of high school. The owner did not want to hire me at first. He thought he can’t pay enough for me to come all the way from the country,” she said.
Lammes Candies webpage states that David Lamme eventually hired Walston after she came back three different times to encourage him to hire her.
“I started working for $7 a week,” said Walston.
Walston met her husband Ernest Walston, who died in 2006, while she worked at the store’s original location on Congress Ave. The two married in 1955. “Ernest worked on the same block at a hardware store. He was a widower and had two children,” said Walston.
Pam Lamme, 56, a fifth-generation owner of Lammes Candies and one of three siblings says she “won’t let her [Walston] stop working… I always tell Mildred: if you go, I go.”
“Mildred is the matriarch of Lammes Candies. Even at the age of 91 she has more energy than young people I know. She just goes on and on. She is always looking for something to do for the company,” she said.
Walston not only served customers at the store, she also branched out.
“I helped out with the store’s mail order venture in the late 1940s. I also joined college in the late 1940s and early 1950s where I learned how to use the typewriter… So I started typing the mail delivery addresses,” said Walston who admitted she had difficulties learning how to use a computer.
Just like Walston, Lamme feels she is a part of the family. “My children, now 26 and 28 years old, think of her as a grandmother, and I feel very fortunate to have grown up with her among us,” Lamme said.
Walston, the store’s longest-tenured employee, was honored earlier this month by Austin City Council. Walston was recognized because she excelled at “delivering excellence and mouth-watering confections to its [Lammes Candies] customers.”
Walston never thought she would receive such recognition. “I was shocked when I heard the news,” said Walston. “We have a branch of the store at the airport and our employee told a councilwoman shopping there how long I worked at Lammes. That’s how I was recommended for the recognition.”
Walston said she hopes to work “as long as she can get out of bed.”