soda pop

How great it all was, scorching your bare legs on sun-baked concrete while guzzling on an ice cold soda or glass of Kool-Aid. Back in those baking 60's summers, cut-offs were just about the only garment guys wore. Girls were likewise cooled off with the least amount of clothing. And the good times? They were abundant.

I can recall distinctively, that during those summer days , girls usually wore 1-piece bathing suits, or cut-offs with a bikini top. Guys usually always wore cut-offs -sans-shirt, or cut-offs with a surfer shirt, or just plain T-shirt, or swimming trunks. Sleevless T-shirts soon became a popular fad in our neighborhoods. (I use the plural because we moved so often.) Just like altering our Sting Ray bikes to fit our own unique personalities, us guys like uniforms. Each one of us had a certain look, though perhaps the clothing was interchangeable, the styles spoke uniquely us.

I can also recall the wonderully unisex clothing articles called "Deck Shoes" . I think some people even called them "Boat Shoes", but they were indeed the stylish tennis shoe to have. Jeans/Cut-Offs were almost always scribbled with ink pen. Sometimes, your favorite girl's name was written in easy-to-hide places, like inside the roll (for those of us who rolled up the pantlegs of our cut-offs).

In any event, the freedom of those summer days was often accompanied by the absolute delights that comprised our special world There was pop straight from the machine, sidewalk games, water fights, swimming pools , or just lazing in the shade. And the music? Who could forget that wonderful music?...

soda pop logo


pop machine

Thinking back on the old pop machines and coolers , I recall vividly the feeling of dropping coins into the slot, then opening the door, or cooler lid to retrieve an ice cold bottle of something wonderful.

Next came the popping of the cap; You put the bottle up to the opener, pull down, then listen for that distinctive hiss of air, followed by the sound of the metal cap as it rolled around the metal catcher. The bottle was usually dripping wet from condensation, a wonderful addition to a hot summer day.

Naturally, I'm referring to the days when you could actually buy a bottle of pop for 10, or 15 cents. One of my favorite flavors was NEHI Grape. The fruity flavors appealed to me the most and I usually stayed faithful to grape and strawberry Among the greats were: 7up, Squirt, Hires, Bireley's, Canda Dry, Dr. Pepper, RC Cola, White Rock (which came in various flavors), and the most wonderful Dad's Root Beer .

There were also newcomers to our neighborhood: Orange Crush, Mug Old Fashioned Root Beer, Mountain Dew, and Fresca. In my opinion, Dew and Fresca were indentical in taste. The hero of them all though was Shasta in cans. Shasta offered more flavors, and the stores usually had them all. Shasta also had my favorite flavor: "Tiki Punch".

To be a tycoon in the
Kool-Aid industry, all you
needed were the 3 P's:

kool-aid cardboard sign

Parents, Patience, and a Place to set up shop. Ideally under the shade of a good tree was optimum, but the plain old sidewalk was just as good. I think I can safely say that at one point in our lives, we all ran our own neighborhood Kool-Aid stands. Mine usually began around 10 o'clock in the morning, and by 3 p.m., I was bankrupt. Still,those wonderful old Kool-Aid stands had their virtues. Mom made the Kool-Aid, and kept it coming when we ran out. Plus, it gave us something different to do, a new adventure to plan on, and make our fortunes to be spent at the corner store.

The hot summer days were enough to drive just about anybody to buy our product-even if it had been out in the sun for a bit. We gained notoriety on our blocks as young entrepreneurs of a growing and rather vigorous industry: satisfying human need. Hot summer temps made a cup of Kool-Aid worth it.

5 cents seemed to be the magic number; Packets of Kool-Aid cost 5 cents apiece, enventually shooting up to a dime. I believe they did this somewhere around 1965. For my stand, I used "Funny Faces" by Pillsbury. In my neighborhood in SE Portland, almost everyone was going ga-ga over the new soft drink specialty with the great cartoon faces and names to match.

I really love those old "Kool-Aid" stand memories, and the hot summer days that so accompanied them.

swing set

They were great, weren't they?

In my neighborhoods, not all kids had a swing set in their backyard. So, for the ones that did, their houses were often gathering points. The backyard swing sets were cool, but they lacked the certain element of danger that the school swings provided.

For one thing, they weren't as tall, so climbing up the support bars was really no challenge. As for me, I could practically jump up and grab the top bar. Still, we all thought they were fun. My favorite part of the set was the glider swing with the two benches that faced each other. Three, or four kids could fit in there. Of course, I'm talking about the big kahuna sets that had all these accessories. Some sets didn't even have a slide.

I can also recall using a hose to wet down the slide to make the going down much easier. We used to always soak the grass at the bottom too, so that when we hit, we splashed down. The slide however, was best for toddlers; for us bigger kids, the trip was so short, it was barely worth the climb!