Monday, April 25, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

We had such a great Easter! Aunt Neva, Mama, Leif, Lori and Lars joined us at our house for the day. We enjoyed great food but more importantly, the laughter shared by all of us was just awesome!

Between meals, we all sat around and talked about various things that we have done in our lives. I "confessed" a theft that I was majorly involved in back in the 1970s.

Normally, our family of 5 always went to Syracuse, Kansas to spend all of the major holidays with my beloved grandparents, Don and Vera Stinchcomb-Pepper. But there was one Thanksgiving when Uncle Lee and Aunt Neva invited many of us to their house. I had 2 cousins who were born within a 2 year period of my birth. At least one of us knew how to drive, so after lunch, we piled into her parents' car and headed to their house across town. We had BIG plans! Once there, we practically ran down their basement stairs in search of empty canning jars and lids. Once we had them, we ran back up the stairs and out to their car. Oh! I forgot to tell you that we also picked up one of their bottle openers...

From their house, we went downtown. Back then, Leoti had no convenience stores. People still enjoyed their soda pop so several pop machines were set up around town. In those days, pop did not come in aluminum cans. It came in recyclable glass bottles that were laid from end to end in the machines. The customer placed the necessary amount of change into the machine and then opened a clear glass door that concealed the bottles. Each lid had the name of the pop printed on it. You made your selection, reached in and grasped the bottle and pulled it straight out. As soon as you pulled it out, you used the built-in bottle opener to remove the lid. Wella! You were ready to drink the sweet concoction within the bottle!

I gave you this information because I know that some of you who read my blog are from the aluminum canned pop generation. LOL!

That particular day, we started out at the pop machine that was located about 30 feet straight north of where Dollar General is today. All three of us went to the machine, with some of the jars and the bottle opener with us. The three of us made our selections, opened the door, popped the lid off of the bottles we wanted. Very quickly, we placed the jar directly under the opened bottle, the bulk of the sodapop flowed into the jar. Not all of it got out of the bottle. A portion of it remained in the bottle. Then all three of us hurriedly made our way back to the escape vehicle.

Throughout the afternoon, we made several return trips to the other machines scattered around town. There was one just north of the Pool Hall, one by the former Pepper Grocery Store which was situated just north of the courthouse, one by the telephone office and one by the old Derby gas station which is where Presto is today. Fitzgeral Oil was smart! Instead of having a pop machine outside, they had a different kind of pop machine in their office. It was really cool! You placed your change into the machine, pushed a button that told the machine what kind of pop you wanted. A paper cup fell to the bottom of the machine. Ice was dropped into the cup and then pop flowed over it. The machine had a few problems though. Sometimes, the cup fell over on its side and the ice and pop just fell whereever they landed. The messes were the pits to clean up. I don't think that that system lasted for long but it was sure fun to watch!!! Though we were definitely not THAT thirsty, it was just too much fun to let that stop us!

But, then...the fun turned into guilt, at least for me. The day's festivities ended in the very late afternoon. We went home for a short time until it was time that our family went to the movie at the Scott City theatre. My guilt pangs were getting stronger and stronger. By the time that we got to the theatre, I knew that there was no way that I would enjoy whatever was playing. I just ordered popcorn--no pop. All of the pop that I had drunk had really made me sick to my stomach.

On the way home, I talked very little. I was so ashamed of myself for what I had done. I definitely knew better than to do what we had done that day! When we arrived at home, proper evening protocol was followed. Mama and the three of us, girls, dressed into our nightgowns to get ready for bed. Daddy always spent a few minutes relaxing at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and mulling over what he needed to do the next day as the owner of a construction company.

This night was different for me though. I knew that I had done wrong. I needed to confess. So I walked into the kitchen and sat down to visit with Daddy. Soon, my tears were flowing and I was telling Daddy all about what my cousins and I had done that day. I really expected that I would be, at the very least, grounded for the next several years. LOL!!! Instead, Daddy kinda chuckled and told me that I received all of the punishment that I needed. After that, Daddy got up and gave me a big hug which was desperately needed. Then I went on to bed and was actually able to sleep. The next day, Daddy went around to the businesses that owned the pop machines and paid them for the bottles of pop that we had stolen...

It has been almost 40 years ago since then. I have never forgotten our crime rampage nor the extreme guilt that I was plagued with. Believe me, the lessons that I learned that day, have managed to keep me on the straight and narrow...


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