It’s funny what writing can bring up as you drift in and out of reality and the creation of a fictional world. I have heard we write best about what we know best. Maybe I would change that to say we write best what we remember best.
A Bottle of Pop
A few days ago I snapped this photo of ‘Nehi Pop’. Yes, we called sodas ‘pop’. Nehi was one of the popular brand names. I loved ‘Nehi Grape’ as a kid. Sodas were a luxury for us and money was tight. Our best chance of buying something like that was to go around our small community, gathering discarded pop bottles and turning them in.
When everything was sold in glass bottles, you paid a deposit on the bottle so you would be encouraged to return them and get your deposit back. In my day, the deposit was two cents per bottle. Our little town was well known for its fresh water fishing streams and we always had an influx of fisherman during fishing season. Unfortunately, this increased the litter, but fortunately for us, the litter often meant discarded bottles along the creek banks.
I don’t remember what an average bottle of pop cost back then, but I know it did not take a lot of return bottles to buy a bottle of pop and maybe a MoonPie.
When Everything Was New
In our little community, the first 16 ounce soda to appear was Mr. Cola. It was a big deal especially to the kids. As children, I’m not sure we worried about brands or anything like that. We also drank Nehi, Chocolate Soldiers (similar to Yoo-Hoo), Royal Crown Cola, and of course eventually Tab and Diet Rite for people that could not have sugar. I do not remember people drinking diet sodas unless they were diabetic. I’m not sure when the diet soda rage began.
We had a lot of freedom as children. We roamed our community all day long with little or no supervision. We didn’t get in trouble (at least until we reached our teens) and were seldom hurt other than banging up an elbow or a knee.
One of our favorite past-times was to wait for the train to come through. Many of our community’s ancestors came from Ashe County, North Carolina. There was an excursion train that transported people back and forth to West Jefferson, NC.
On the days the train ran, we would gather on the other side of the creek waiting for the train to pass. The train track was on the other side of the creek and up about 50 feet or so higher than we were. As the engine came through, the men on the train would throw strands of cellophane wrapped ‘suckers’ (aka lollipops) across the creek to us. Some hit the creek, but lots made it into our outstretched arms. What a treat! Obviously we were never warned about taking candy from strangers.
On the Road
My Dad sometimes served as a lay minister and often preached on Sundays in a small church in Bulls Gap, TN. It was a long drive — especially when you are a kid who just wants to get out of Sunday clothes.
On the drive home, Dad would often stop and buy us each a Coca-Cola and a bag of salted peanuts. The coke had to be the 6 1/2 ounce bottle — because they tasted better or so we believed. Nothing like drinking a few sips of your coke and then pouring in the peanuts. It was so good. I cracked my teeth more times than I can remember trying to get that last peanut out of the bottom of the bottle.
I’m not sure if it was the treats or if it is the memories that surround the treats that make me feel so nostalgic. I don’t long to be back to those times, but I do cherish those moments. I am fortunate to have so many wonderful memories to look back on.
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment,
until it becomes a memory.”