I love Coca-Cola. In fact I am having one
now. Did I ever tell you I lived near a Coke Bottling plant?
It took up the whole block between 1st and 2nd Avenues, bounded
by 6th and 7th Streets. The main offices and the plant were close
to the 1st Avenue end, while the delivery trucks were parked behind
a big chain link fence on the 2nd Avenue side. On summer days the
big industrial windows would be slanted open and you could catch
a glimpse of the bottles being filled with that magical sweet bubbly
The Coca-Cola trucks would come pouring out onto 7th Street in
the morning to deliver the goods all around the city and county;
and like clockwork about 3:45 they would be heading home. You didn't
need a clock in my neighborhood, you told time by the caravans of
Coke trucks heading down 5th Street and up 2nd Avenue to enter the
parking lot again on 7th Street. It was a well-practiced ritual.
Sometimes in the winter you lucked out. After a heavy snow the
streets usually got lumpy and icy and the big trucks would bounce
and wiggle around in the roadway. If the bumps were great enough
or the truck skidded around a corner, coke bottles would vibrate
out of their wooden boxes and spill all over the street. One particular
winter, a truck dumped a bunch of bottles into a snow bank at the
corner and we had a fun time digging out free sodas, conveniently
kept nicely chilled by the snow. As the snow melted, even more treasures
You could buy the concentrated Coca-Cola syrup right at the factory,
and mix your own soda or use it as a topping for ice cream or however
you enjoyed it. Many parents gave their children a spoon full of
the syrup if they had a mild sore throat. It soothed the scratchy
feeling. Of course you could always buy a nickel cup or glass of
Coke at the many local candy stores and luncheonettes in the neighborhood.
We were drinking Cherry Cokes at the soda fountain long before Coke
came out with its own brand a number of years ago. There were Cherry
Cokes, Vanilla Cokes, and even Chocolate Cokes--standard fare for
the erudite young soft drink aficionados I hung around with.
When canned Cokes first made their appearance, you still needed
a "church key" to open them, unless you lived in my inventive
neighborhood. Many is the time we hoisted someone over the old chain
link fence to scavenge up the dropped Coke cans that fell off the
trucks, You would be amazed at how many cans were always lying on
the ground around the trucks. They might be bumped or dented, but
they never went back on the trucks, so in the interest of recycling
and good public relations we helped the company out by cleaning
their parking lot.
The smallest guy went over the fence and tossed the cans over.
Know how we opened them? Rammed the can end down on the pointed
edges of a chain link fence and got a neat hole punched right through
the metal. Did that twice and the can was ready to be drained--flying
soda fizz and all. After that, we would burp for half an hour to
see who could make the loudest noise; not very gentlemanly, but
quite entertaining. It made no impression whatsoever on the local
girls. What girl could look at a boy with warm Coke fizz running
out of his nose and awful sounds coming out of his mouth. Yes, we
were pigs and loved it.
My Uncle Sonny drove a Coca-Cola truck out in Pittsburgh for 30
years. When he retired he sent me a full set of the traditional
wide mouth Coke glasses. As a boy he explained to me how the factory
worked and how the stuff got packaged and out on the trucks. It
still impresses me today. Every time I drink a soda, it's hard not
to hear the sounds of those trucks and the bottles rumbling down
the factory line, heading for the loading dock.
I wonder how many millions of gallons of Coca-Cola went through
that plant? Probably almost as much as went through me! I am still
hooked on that liquid----and can to this day belt out a rather respectable
burp. One time after a particularly loud blast-something akin to
the mating call of a bull moose- my wife just looked at me the way
a wife looks at her husband with that drop-dead, icy stare----
“Where the hell did you learn how to burp like that?”
“In my old neighborhood”, I replied. “I even
have a medal to prove it.”
Having listened to my mother tell her some of the crazy stuff
I did as a kid, she has learned to accept these minor transgressions.
She also heard my Dad rattle the windows in the living room of his
house after one memorable Holiday meal. He was a helluva’
belcher too. I guess she must have rationalized it as being in the
male genes. At least I don’t have that nose fizz problem anymore.
Well, that concludes my memory and the Coke that I was drinking.
Take cover. I feel a burp coming on!!