In those days when I started observing what was going on around me, I noticed that there were several people in small towns who had enviable status in their communities.
There was the doctor and the dentist, naturally. Then there was the banker and the guy in the two-tone shoes — he owned the cotton gin and the fertilizer store. “Like having the license to steal,” everybody said.
When I first heard the lyrics of “Sixteen Tons,” by Tennessee Ernie Ford, I thought of the guy who owned the gin and fertilizer store. So many were indebted to him.
“You load sixteen tons and whaddaya get, “Another day older and deeper in debt,
“St. Peter don’t you call me, ‘cause I
“I owe my soul to the company
There were a couple of other icons in our communities. The Baptist preacher who could easily become a pariah in the pulpit when he “quit preaching and went to meddling.” You know, such as endorsing the wrong candidate for sheriff. Perhaps the most popular icon was the local Coca-Cola bottler. He would slip an extra case of Cokes onto somebody’s back stoop if they did something special. Such as winning the district watermelon growing contest. Or if somebody’s daughter was elected homecoming queen. Or if the bottler needed a favor such as a B in history for his eighth-grade son who needed help to become eligible for the varsity football team in the fall, advising the teacher that the “boy is very smart, but he just don’t test well.”
I was a Coke advocate, doing what to so many from the past would be familiar. Save enough money to go down to Sheppard’s Service Station, buy a pack of Tom’s salted peanuts and empty them into that time honored “short” Coca-Cola. The 16-ounce bottle was probably better known than the Bible. That “contour” Coke was such a staple of our lives.
Recently, I did my local bottler, Fred Butler, a favor, and he left me with a couple of six packs of the traditional “contour” bottle Cokes. I savored each one of them. I even got the closest thing to a pack of Tom’s roasted peanuts and dumped them into my “contour” Coke. After that, I recalled the austere days on the farm and reached for two pieces of sliced bread, grabbed the mayonnaise jar from the refrigerator and spread a generous helping on the bread and had myself a mayonnaise sandwich. That made my day.
Everything goes better with a Coke, you know, and as I enjoyed my trip down memory lane, I kept singing softly that Coca-Cola jingle of the seventies.
“I’d like to buy the world a home, and furnish it with love, “Grow apple trees and honeybees and snow-white turtle doves, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company, “That’s the real thing.”
To see several dozen young people from over the world gathering in Rome and singing that commercial is still uplifting today if you want to reconnect with the jingle. I do that quite often, especially when I am in my office and become overwhelmed with too many things to do. That jingle keeps me from getting bored. It is my favorite commercial of all time.
With many friends who have continued from page
worked for the Coca-Cola Company, I have heard the declaration that there is no difference in what we get with a can of the beverage today and the iconic 16-ounce bottle. Maybe it is in my head, but I just have a hard time accepting the fact that it’s the same. Coke just tastes better out of the contour bottle.
With October having arrived, I need to find a hayfield, climb aboard a John Deere tractor and find that famous Coke jingle on my iPhone and sing along as I sip my “contour” Coke. October is the greatest month to do that sort of thing, you know.