The Pause That Refreshes…

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 09:36 AM.

            We called ’em cokes. Or soft drinks. Never would we have said soda. Or pop.

            I reckon it was a regional thing. And we used the word “coke” in a generic sense. Coca Colas were so popular in our area of the south we just referred to any soft drink as “a coke”.

            I remember when getting your hands on one was such a special treat! The “real thing” only came in the small, green tinted 6 and ½ ounce glass bottles. And if you weren’t careful, you could drain the entire contents in two seconds! We developed the “ice pick procedure” out of necessity. To stretch out our cola treat me and Leon and David Mark would jab a whole in the cap with an ice pick. You couldn’t get much drink out like that. But if you nursed it along, that coke would last for an hour!

            Mother was big on milk. She believed it developed strong bones and good teeth, promoted growth and warded off evil bacteria trying to invade our bodies.  Plus, as I look back on it now, I realize Mom was thankful the cow didn’t charge much to “deliver”. She considered an ice cold Coca Cola a luxury. We grew up in a day and an age when luxury took a way back seat to necessity. 

            But every once in a while when the moon was right or the stars lined up or she found an extra fifteen cents, she’d bring home three refreshing bottles of that extraordinary liquid. It seems so silly now, how wildly excited three little boys could get over a drink! Maybe it spoke to the simplicity of the times; to a period before television, long range intercontinental ballistic missiles, mini skirts, drive though restaurants, bottled water, high speed internet and phones that attached to your ear. Lost in the ’50’s wasn’t the worst place to grow up. As Uncle F. D. would often say, “We were as naïve as flies on a frog’s back, and we were proud of it.” 

            I never let my coke out of my sight. I said we were naïve. Nobody said nothing about being stupid! Listen, I knew better than to sit that coke down and go to the bathroom. One of my brothers would take a swallow or two…or three the second I turned my back. I’ve seen world class melees break out over a missing gulp!

            As we got a little older you can’t imagine the prestige of sitting up on the front porch of Woodrow Kennon’s store and “downing one” with the grownups. We knew better than to say anything. But we’d turn a Royal Crown Cola case up edgeways for a seat, lean back against the wall and listen to Mr. Willard Brush tell about the time Charlie Barton ran his Farmall Tractor into the Big Sandy River. We’d take a sip of a NuGrape and slowly nod along with the story….just like we had been there!

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