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The Man-Eating Drink Machine

Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.

Writer's note: his hub is in no way to promote, sell, or even suggest that such products as soft drinks be mentioned in the commercial state. This piece is about an old-fashioned soft drink machine itself. Even the old-fashioned drink boxes on this hub are not the same as the horozontial drink box in my hub. Thanks, Kenneth

Then, this couldn't be replaced. Now, just a novel item.

Then, this couldn't be replaced. Now, just a novel item.

Here is A Tale That You

have never known. And for good reason. But with the year 2020, society at large is more-liberal and sensitive, so I can be open about this piece and not be beaten-up. Actually this would pass for a comedy-script. Nope. It happened. And yes, it was real.

The historical-unveiling of coin-operated machines is unclear, but according to one of my sources, A coin-operated vending machine was introduced in London, in the early 1880s, selling postcards. Percival Everitt built the machine in 1883 and soon became a crowd-catchers at railway stations and post offices, providing envelopes, postcards, and other useful items.

But, with all respect to Everitt, everyone knows that there are times when a postage stamp is needed, but then there comes those times when you just have to taste a soft drink. No coffee. No booze. Just a soft drink and relax. This is how those early con-operated machines worked and the design may have changed over the years, but not the principal design because coin-operated vending machines are going strong and bring in the owners thousands upon thousands of scratch daily.

Johnny, Let's Give Folks a Date

with the time when I had entered the first grade at a very rural locale in norhtwest Alabama, a very quaint place called New Home School. I've told you about this place more than once. This schoolhouse had two school rooms. The two teachers, man and wife, ran the two rooms of education. Mr. L.J. Ballard, (his real name), was the principal and taught grades four through six. His wife,, Mrs. Gertrude Ballard, taught grades one through three. I was in the first grade in the great year of 1961. Times were simple. Ahhh, good times.

Seemingly, every day was summer or fall. But there came a day in December when an overnight, hard freeze, as locals called it, fell upon our lands including New Home School, but we all bared the bitter cold to be taught by the best two teaching duo's ever to roll down the pike.

Gone, but not forgotten.

Gone, but not forgotten.

I Still Remember

the day like it was a month ago. Thursday, December 2, 1961. Cold. Not just a shall shivering cold, but cold. So cold that the smoke from your breath almost froze before it wafted through the air. Alright. So I took some dramatic license. You would agree with me if you had been there with me on that day.

I've went over this before, but at New Home School, every event, no matter how small, was big. And mean big. So big that these events meant something otherwise I wouldn't be writing about them. Lunch time was a recess and lunch combined. Whomever designed this hour and a half was like time spent in Heaven. We all laughed, ate, some students even did an old soft shoe. We were different to say the least.

Now for the cold part. When lunch time arrived, Mr. Ballard came to our room, Mrs. Balllard's room, and with a stern look, we all knew that something was up. In a few moments we found out why he was so stern. During the night before, the temperature was so bitterly cold that the soft drinks in the gym/lunch room froze just like ice. Right now, I can predict what school system you attended by just not caring about frozen soft drinks all in bottles or like us, just pounding our desks hoping that Mr. Ballard would give us the go ahead to head to the gym/lunchroom for a great time.

Upon reaching the gym/lunch room, we all gasped with surprise. Mr. Ballard was standing near our old yellow soft drink machine holding both of the top lids up and he was grinning ear-to-ear. Sure, seeing him this way causes us to fear and we just stood still. We were impatient, that was nothing new. But what came next was something we all never forgot.

One by One

we slowly walked toward the yellow drink machine. We had grown accustomed to seeing this machine every Monday through Friday while we were in school, but now we viewed it in a different light. It was almost near a religious moment. No one dared speak loudly or even laugh. Charles Deline walked up and Mr. Ballard asked what brand of drink that he wanted. Deline answered and Mr. Ballard reached for the maze-like arena in the drink box and brought it out to his awaiting lips.

What was so surprising was every bottle of soda was frozen hard. As was the water pipes in the school building. Did we care? What do you think? After Deline walked away with his drink that he viewed as a treat, Russell Lynch walked up to get a drink as we all should because Mr. Ballard said (that magic word) free drinks come on up. I was the fourth student to hurry up to get my cold drink. This was easier said than done.

Like magic, all of the students who loved those wonderful soft drinks, started grouping-up and looked like they were climbing over into the box. To me, even at age seven, I had watched a few black and white horror movies and these students looked as if the drink box was being eaten by a monster drink box with a cold mouth.

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I told Ballard my favorite brand of peach drink. Yes, peach. Talk about purely a sip of nectar from Heaven. It was. But this go around I did not get to drink it, but treat it as if I had a popsicle in my hand. At least that was what I thought. Mr. Ballard grimaced and mumbled that something must be wrong with the machine. He told me to ask for another brand and I did. Same thing. The bottles that I had chosen only moved an inch or two and no further.

But students that had been waiting were allowed to get their drinks with no trouble. Then Mr. Ballard tried again to get me one drink. Nope. He stood at the old drink box for about half an hour. I was on the brink of tears coming to my eyes. I fought to hold them back because there is one thing that a first-grader does not want to happen and that is cry in front of his buddies. And the girls were no different. They loved to giggle and point their fingers at such behavior.

A Victorious Summary

when I reached inside my right-size pants pocket and handed Mr. Ballard a dime. He shook his head to say no, that the drinks were free, but if it meant me not getting my peach drink, what was one dime? Ballard placed the dime inside the machine and out came my peach. Was I excited at getting the taste of my peacch drink.

What came next was not only surprising, but shocking. The students who had witnessed me give Mr. Ballard a dime for a drink, walked up and gave Mr. Ballard a dime. He was stunned. Russell Lynch the older student explained to Ballard that they felt that it was only fair to pay for their drinks as Kenny had done.

True friendship. Such friends are very rare today.

November 19, 2020_________________________________________

URL's That Accompany The Photos on Hub:

© 2020 Kenneth Avery


Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on November 21, 2020:

Very enjoyable read!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 20, 2020:

What a sweet story! I have seen some of these old-fashioned machines now used with the lids up to store sodas and water bottles in some restaurants where people go through the line with a tray, get the food ordered and prepared in front of you, and pay at the end of the line.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on November 19, 2020:

Cute story.

So glad he hot his peach and didn't break out crying. Kids can be cruel.

But it is a great ending where friends stick together. It is rare these days.

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