Barbara gets her Coca-Cola box back

Published 10:07 am Friday, August 21, 2009

Charles McGuinn’s great-grandaughter Brittany stands beside the Coca-Cola box that her mother, Charles’ daughter Barbara, reacquired from the man to whom Charles had sold it many years earlier. (photo by Garland Goodwin)While interviewing for the article about Charles McGuinn&squo;s store (see front page story), I discovered a well-worn Coca-Cola&rade; box at the front of the new store. I asked his great-granddaughter to stand by it for a photo because seeing the box brought back fond memories of them. The &dquo;Co-Colas&dquo; (as my dear departed mother always called them; they were not called &dquo;Cokes&dquo; yet) stood up to their necks in ice water in them, and there was a handy opener to pop the top (&dquo;crown&dquo;) off the bottle built right into the box.Might have known there was a story to go with the box. It involves Charles, his daughter Barbara, and granddaughter Nancy, mother of great granddaughter Brittany shown in the photo. It seems that Barbara had asked her father if she could have the box sometime after it went out of service in the store. One day she discovered that Charles had sold the box to a man who showed genuine interest in it by offering money for it. The man then left the area, and Barbara considered the box lost forever.When the man came into the store many years later, Nancy asked him whether he still had the Coke&rade; box. Upon learning that he did indeed still have it, she asked about buying it back. The deal was made in time for her to give the box to her Mom for her birthday this year. I like stories that have happy endings.I am not finished with this, however. Barbara had mentioned that it was some time before the store got Pepsi-Colas, commenting that it seemed odd to her not to have them. I have always been impressed by the way Pepsi-Cola&rade; broke into the soft drink market, then dominated by Coca-Cola. Pepsi offered &dquo;twice as much for a nickel, too,&dquo; with their tall 12-oz. bottle dwarfing the shapely little 6-oz. Coca-Cola bottles of the day. I was greatly amused when Coke then brought out an 8-oz. bottle that &dquo;refreshes without filling.&dquo; Ah, the geniuses of Madison Avenue!Here is another bit of nostalgia for you: When I was in the Air Force back in the early 50s, the Coke bottle had the city where it was first bottled molded into the glass bottom. Everyone in a group at the drink machine would raise his bottle to see where it was from, and the holder of the city farthest away would receive a nickel (or maybe a dime by then) from everyone else. When we went home on leave, we brought back Coke bottles to &dquo;seed&dquo; the local area. Barbara has also acquired an old wringer washing machine, but that&squo;s another story. Right now it is sort of blocking an aisle in the store, but I think Barbara is planning to display both in a special area. I suspect that more artifacts of bygone days will find a happy home with her as time goes on. So you see, there are good reasons to buy locally: you just never know what you might get to see (and remember) in the store.


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