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4th Generation Soda Jerk -- BOTH Audio and Text

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This is one excited kid and one PROUD father... I took my son to the lumberyard last Tuesday afternoon. The day itself, though toasty, was the best in quite some time. And when we’d finished shopping - after loading what I’d bought - he glanced across the highway at the Woolworth’s Five and Dime. “Dad,” he said, “you promised me, on more than one occasion, you’d take me into Woolworth’s for a shake…and, man…it’s hot!” Truth is - he was right. And being 98 degrees, I smiled to prove I didn’t mind he’d put me on the spot. Fact is, twenty years ago, I’d worked there as a youngster, just the way my dad had…and his father, Zachery, too! Glancing down at Gavin, his expectant little grin tipped the scales reminding me - his turn was overdue. “Great idea,” I countered, as we hopped back in the pickup, then headed ‘cross the highway to the sprawling friendly shop. The huge, two-story building - there since 1896 - was where, as kids, we’d often gone for licorice sticks and pop. Mom and Gran were Woolworth’s girls. It’s where they’d get material you only see today in pictures taken long ago! Amazing how the fashions change. Just check your oldest albums. Once you’ve turned a page or two, I promise you…you’ll know. What they wore, and how they wore their hair, is quite amusing. Gavin held the door for me, then followed me on in. I watched him as he scanned the place, his face transfixed in awe, as he became acquainted with…the way it was back then. Dangling from the ceiling were a bunch of iron kettles, lined up by their sizes, maybe six or seven rows. Panning ‘round the massive room, like all first-timers do…I smiled to watch my youngster being baffled by his nose. Unfamiliar smells he’d never known were all around him. The slightest trace of Black Jack, Clove, and Beeman’s filled the air. Jars with sticks of peppermint and horehound lined the counter, and ads for things extinct for years were posted everywhere. The mesmerizing ambiance would captivate his thinking. The wonderment that filled his mind was glowing on his face. “Golly, Dad,” he fin’ly quipped, “you’re right about the feeling. It’s just like stepping back in time. I really like this place.” “So do I,” I countered. “Don’t forget…I used to work here! And so’d my dad, and even his old man…Great Grandpa Zack!” We wandered through the whole darn store, and - though their goods were current - the unmolested store displays abruptly took us back. By seeing things that older people always found in stores, like: pants and jackets hung behind an aisle of sliding doors… Several waist high counters lined with pencil labeled drawers…and escalators - (found in only those with second floors). And watching, as it carried shoppers slowly up and down, (those shiny, long, hypnotic stairways always turned my head), Gavin - now immersed in all the wonderful nostalgia - didn’t even notice it when, “Time to go,” I said. I placed my hand below his neck and steered him toward the counter. The gorgeous marble - veined with greens and grays - was glowing bright. A flower-blossom-figured shade - with pink and olive panels - proudly crowned the soda fountain’s alabaster light. I watched him read the labels on the row of syrup dispensers - most providing flavors from a very distant time. A few examples : sarsaparilla, ginger ale, and lemon…grape and cherry julep… orange crush, and even lime! “Man, if I could get a job here,” Gavin softly said, “they’d never have to worry about me showing up for work!” Looking ‘round I spotted, by the tarnished old brass register, a tiny notice advertising, “Wanted – Soda Jerk.” Gavin hadn’t seen it yet so I said, “Here’s a twenty. Order me a cherry coke, and get yourself that shake. And don’t forget, son - what you wind up doing for a living - often proves - in “LIFE ” - to mean much more than what you make! “Hey, how about that register,” I added, “ain’t it classy?” hoping, when he ordered, that he’d spot the little sign. It worked. He fin’ly saw it. And, as no surprise to me, he spun around and found my face…then locked his eyes on mine… And beaming like he does when he’s excited, he announced, “They’re looking for a soda jerk! Can you believe it, Dad?” I felt a little nervous when I paused to contemplate - this would be the first job that my son had ever had. Glad he’d asked, despite the fact I had some reservations …(he’d had his sixteenth birthday only seven days before), There he stood imploring me to offer him my blessing, all fired up, anticipating working in that store. “Tell him, when he brings our drinks, you’d like an application. Working in a place like this ‘d really do you good. I talked to Mom the other day and left it up to her if you could get a job or not, and she agreed, you could.” He filled the application out while snarfing down his milkshake, took it to the office, then we headed toward the door. “Golly, Dad,” he told me, as we headed off for home, “I can’t think of anything I’ve ever wanted more!” “I really hope you get it, son,” I told him as I drove, “‘cause not too many stores like that have stood the test of time, And I’d be tickled pink if generation number four would hold the job of “soda jerk” in that old - “Five and Dime.” PS: I've now got 4 new Audio-CDs - @ 4 1/2 hours each = (62 diversely varied pieces). They’re listed on EBAY - under - “Mark Stellinga Poetry” - or available by simply contacting me at -- -- should those of you who enjoy listening to poems as well as reading them - and particularly those of you that travel - care to be so entertained. (We use safe and simple - PayPal) Cheers, Mark

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021

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