Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Untrained Help

It's trickier than it looks.
I had gone to town with Dad.
It was always an exciting time for us kids.
The teaming metropolis, crowded with cars, alive with people.
Intent of their errands.
All hurrying to get somewhere.
Okay, it was Milk River. Population 499.
No one hurried.
Ever.
And, the only time in the town’s history there had been a traffic jam was the year someone’s grampa’s car stalled in one of the intersections on parade day.
But still, we loved going there to run errands with dad.
Stopping at the hardware store.
The grocery.
The variety/clothing store.
The farm machinery shop.
Occasionally, he would buy us something.
But mostly, it was to listen to him visiting with the proprietor, getting caught up on the local news.
And to have a pop and a chocolate bar at the service station just before we headed home.
The local gas station had a large chest full of all kinds of soda.
The bottom part was filled with intricate wiring and tubing necessary to keeping the product cold.
The upper part, the part that was visible when one lifted the lid, was a series of long slots, with the bottle tops just visible in each.
All one had to do was carefully maneuver one’s chosen flavour to the end of its row and into the lifter.
Deposit a dime (yes, a dime) into the appropriate space.
And lift.
Ta-daa!
Take off the lid in the handy, dandy opener provided.
And deliciousness was yours.
Dad was doing the dime depositing and the choosing.
I was pulling up on the lifter.
It had worked for several bottles.
The two of us together had an impressive array of pop to take home.
Three or four at least . . .
Dad deposited another dime and reached for a bottle.
I happily pulled up on the lifter.
He looked at me, his hand still hovering between ‘orange’ and ‘grape’.
Oops.
I don’t remember if he went to the proprietor and got his money back.
I only remember ‘that’ look.
And being relieved of my duties.
Sigh.

The pop still tasted good.

8 comments:

  1. Your enthusiasm got the best of you. The pop machine in my area back in those golden days was a big chest filled with ice and ice water in which floated bottles of brown and green...coke, orange crush, wilsons gingerale. You got to plunge your arm into the cold wet to retrieve your bottle and yes, the cap remover was built in to the chest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm. You know all of the soft drink ads show a bottle with cold water dripping down. Now we know where that image comes from...

      Delete
  2. It's hard to coordinate thinking and doing, when you're young. Or when you're old, as I'm beginning to find out :)

    I remember the pop coolers here as having a lid that was hinged in the middle so you could lift up either side. It was filled most of the way up to the top of the bottles with water and the whole thing was cooled electrically. And, yep, you removed the crimped cap with the built-in gadget. Ahhh. Good memories! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. Coordination and I were only passing friends.
      Hmm . . . you know, I think that this cooler was filled with water. I remember the bottle dripping!

      Delete
  3. I used to love those coolers! The shop at the end of our street had one and in the melt-your-bones February heat if we couldn't afford a drink we were allowed to fish out chunks of ice from the freezing water around the bottles. If we did have a shilling for a drink, we'd put it in the slot and wait for the three pennies change to rattle down, since the drinks were only nine pence. Then in 1966 we converted to dollars and cents and everything changed. A drink was 15 cents, which was one shilling and sixpence in the old money. I was sad when those old coolers disappeared in favour of giant glass door fridges.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glass door fridges gain efficiency but lose the nostalgia and fun. Sigh.

      Delete
  4. I remember those pop machines. I lived in a small town growing up so I can relate to this one.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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