Sunday, June 12, 2011

One bottle, two straws

I watched an old Twilight Zone episode about a guy, who after thirty years, returned to his boyhood town. When he arrived, he actually had gone back in time. The people were still kids, and adults hadn't aged. Nothing had changed. Time had stood still. But nobody recognized him, even when he called them by name.

He paid for items with money imprinted with dates thirty years in the future. It was mind-boggling for the proprietors of the small businesses.

Got me to thinking about businesses years ago. Dime Stores and drugstores had soda fountain counters with swivel stools. These were the places to go in the mid '60s.

When I was fifteen, I used to walk to the little neighborhood corner store,(confectionary) to buy a Coca Cola in a "stacked" green glass, eight ounce bottle. Then came the sixteen ounce bottles...way too much for me to drink. The store keeper would pop the metal bottle cap off and insert a narrow, paper straw into the bottle. If the straw bent or became water logged it was useless. Next came new and improved paper straws with a wax coating, and then, plastic straws were invented. Times they were rapidly changing.

Bottle caps were replaced by twist tops, and glass bottles by cans with pop tops. The game of bottle caps, played by guys in alleys or on parking lots, with a broom stick and bottle caps (like baseball) could only be played if one could beg the local bartenders for bottle caps.

Kids used to go to the neighborhood store to purchase cigarettes for their parents. My parents, like most of our neighbors, ran a bill (tab) and paid it every Friday. My girlfriend (future sister-in-law) and I used to scout the neighborhood to find discarded soda bottles and turn them in for ransom (deposit of 2 cents or 5 cents for the big 32 ounce bottles). If we collected enough money, we would walk to the greasy spoon restaurant and split an order of fries drizzled with ketchup. If we had enough money, we each ordered a Coke, if not, we ordered one Coke and two straws.

If we had no luck locating discarded bottles, we'd then walk back to the confectionary and order a Drumstick or ice cream sandwich, or a big sour pickle from the huge pickle jar on the counter and say, "Put it on the bill."

Such were the innocent days of my youth, the precursor to "Charge it!", before nearly everyone you knew had a dozen credit cards weighing their wallet and their lives down. Young people today have just about anything they want, and they never have to wait for it, or save for it. They lug a heavy load.

We look at our kids and grandkids and comment about the changing times. Instant gratification ... maybe we parents of the 70s created it by trying to give our kids what we didn't have.

10 comments:

Odie Langley said...

My father ran a small country store so I had a never ending assortment of treats to enjoy but had to work sorting and arranging drink bottles for the drink man to pick up when he came. I also had to help stock shelves. I handed full sized Pepsi Colas over the counter for a nickle, 2 large Jacks cookies for a penny and nothing was better than a small coke with a bag of Planters peanuts dumped in for the unique flavor I loved. Amazing what the salt did to the flavor of the coke. Those "were" the days.

♥~Judy~♥ said...

I remember pops in the machine for a quarter, gum for a nickel and feeling around in the seat of the car for change to fill the tank and go riding...

Tammy said...

What a nice post. You brought back some great memories!

Claudia Novac said...

A very interesting article, thank you for sharing it with us, it made me think!

jabblog said...

All things change and not always for the better.

Fresh Garden said...

I have to agree with Jabblog.

BECKY said...

Great memories, Linda! I can't imagine the older adults of the future looking back on these times and saying "Those were the good old days!"

Carol said...

Linda,
Great story! It is always fascinating to think back on simpler times.

Barb Hodges said...

Do you remember ordering a cherry coke?

Jennifer Brown Banks said...

How true! Well stated...great to walk with you down memory lane. :-) Thanks!