Monday, November 04, 2013

Things you don't see anymore ~ My column from Sunday's paper

We have two cases of Coca Cola bottles sitting on the front porch of our old house. I’m not talking about plastic bottles made with petrochemicals, but the vintage green ones with
Picture has nothing to do with the column, but I shot it today
And it seemed a shame not to use it.
ribbed sides and tiny air bubbles suspended within the glass. 

As a kid, I held them up close to my eyes and turned the world around me into an Impressionist painting.

We’ve had them for as long as I can remember, but somehow through time, they became almost invisible to me.

I rediscovered them this morning as we walked. I snapped a photograph with my phone just to remind me of the things you don’t see much anymore.

It occurred to me that Coke bottles (and other soft drink bottles) were one of my main sources of income as a kid. 

I spent hours walking up and down the roads looking for bottles hidden in the tall grass. At that time, you could return them to the store and they fetched a three-cent bounty. 

I earned enough money picking up bottles, to buy a bell for my bicycle and colorful plastic streamers for my handlebars that fluttered in the wind as I rode. 

So many things like Coke bottles, that were a part of my life growing up, have been relegated to the dark archives of my long-term memory.

When I was a kid, computers, iTunes, and digital downloads of songs were the stuff of science fiction.

If I heard a song I liked on the radio, I had to go to one of the few local stores that sold 45 rpm records. 

The other option was LP (long play) records which usually contained the entire album. LPs had a spindle hole in the center the size of a pencil. 

Unlike LP records, 45s had a hole as big as a half dollar and you had to have a small plastic disk that resembled a tiny frisbee with slots cut in it, and you fitted the tiny disk into the larger hole of the 45 to reduced the opening to the same size as an LP so the record would play on the record player. I can’t remember the last 45 record or hole reducer I’ve seen.

Another thing I remember, pants creasers. These were wire frames that could be jammed down the legs of starched dungarees. Removing the creasers after the pants dried left creases in front and back sharp enough to cut your finger.

Transistor radios are also a thing of the past. Nowadays people have iPods, iPads, and cell phones that let them listen to music, but I remember when the first transistor radios were a BIG deal.

My sister Mary Lois got a Sylvania transistor radio in a leather case. It was the size of a brick and weighed almost as much, but we could pick up WVOK, WSGN, and on Saturdays, The Grand Ole Opry.

Her old radio was the color of sunset with a plastic cover over the speaker that shined like the grill of a new Buick. You don’t see things like that anymore.

A few years ago we had visitors at our house and we walked down to our barn to stretch our legs. 

The woman had a fit over the old bottles, and offered to sell them on eBay for us and share the profit.

I smiled as I declined, I think it’s important to keep things that help us remember even if they are largely forgotten by time. 

Read more: Daily Mountain Eagle - Things you don t see anymore 


  1. I had to laugh because I remember many of those things as well and hadn't thought of them as being antiques. I guess I must be an antique, too. It just means we're more valuable as we get older!

  2. Oh yes, I remember a lot of these items... as much as I don't act my age, these are from my past too :)

  3. Oh, the joy of returning bottles and getting the change. I miss that. We had a Rambler that didn't have a radio, so my dad put a transistor radio on the dash. Instant baseball games for him.


  4. Every morning one of my neighbors asks me for soda bottles. Sometimes I have and sometimes I don't. But guess what ? we get to chat anyway!

  5. Hello Rick. I'll be darned that I remember those old Coke bottles, too. Funny how something like that jogs your memory of past times, isn't it? Thanks for the memories. Susan

  6. I miss ye olde dial up phones! Sigh! Take care

  7. Coke bottles were green and Pepsi were clear. My job as a kid on Friday's was to go next door to the tire store/garage and get bottles of soda for supper. It was our treat. Carrying 6 bottles in a basket when you're 4 is a chore but I loved it. Great post evoking great memories. I can smell the rubber now.


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