Two Delish Grape Sodas Remembered with Banana Pudding
J. Mark Lowe
Something happened today that reminded me of a great kindness 55 years ago. On a bright sunny morning, my Mom and I went to the grocery store in the little town where I grew up. The store was called Gossett’s General Store and it was a very typical store in many small towns across this country. It was very unlike the grocery stores where I shop today, and probably had more hardware and dry goods than food.
On this particular day, we completed our business at the store and as usual, I left with a piece or two of penny candy given to me by Mr. Cecil Gossett. Actually, the candy was probably more like 2 pieces for a nickel by then. Either way, I always loved going to the store, and they were all so friendly and lovable folk. I’m sure I always got several hugs from the ladies who worked there.
We loaded all of our groceries in the car, and headed back towards home. We lived in the lower level of a two story house owned by Dr. and Mrs. Elder. It was very close to my Dad’s feed mill. Mom crossed the railroad track and headed over the hill and we could soon see the Cedar Hill Baptist Church on the left and the Cedar Hill Methodist Church on the right. Lowe’s Feed Mill was also on the left past the Baptist Church and my Mom pulled the car toward the hill to park in front of the feed mill.
I loved that feed mill, although I was so small that the wooden front steps, left me too short to even reach the knob to open the door. My Dad had added a storm door to the large wooden door, and the storm door opened out. Perhaps he saw that choice as a measure to block his youngest son from entering the business without warning. It worked most of the time. Although my Mom was not too far behind, I ran ahead and tried to open the door. Fortunately, I looked up and Mr. Fred Haley, who worked with my Dad, was there to let me into the office and make me feel like a Prince. Of course, all 2-1/2 year old children get special treatment, but Mr. Fred made me feel so special. Just to make you understand how wonderful it was to be here, my Dad spoiled me with my favorite soft drink in the world – Delish Grape Soda. It was locally bottled by the Coca-Cola Bottling Works in Springfield, TN, but being this young, I had not grown to enjoy the cola like this stout grape drink. As I headed for the soft drink cooler, my Mom said, “We are heading home, and he needs to eat lunch.”
Devastated, I’m sure my jaw dropped to the floor and my eyes sunk into the backward reach of my depression. I sat down on one of the three-legged stools and could imagine the very touch of that Delish Grape Drink bottle on my tongue. Oh well, I actually sat quietly and listened to my Mom talk with my Dad. It seemed like a long time, but was only a few seconds or even a minute, and she indicated we were ready to leave.
I hopped off my three-legged stool and headed for the door, with my head still hung in loss. I hugged my Dad, and turned to hug Mr. Fred, and there he stood with two bottles of Delish Grape Soda in his hand. He said, “I’m sure these will keep until later this afternoon.” He handed the bottles to me and I held them one in each hand, as though I was carrying gold. I’m sure my gloom turned into smiles and sunshine and I bounded to the door like I had hit a Grand Slam. The door was still an obstacle and my Mom opened the door, and before I could step out of the door, I was lifted up in the arms of an angel. Mr. Fred carefully picked me up and carried me and my treasure safely down to the car.
I sat in the car, contemplating the wonderful treat that Mr. Fred had bestowed upon me. My Mom backed the car into the street and we headed the very short distance to our house. Our porch was a wide concrete porch with one step from the ground to door level. I held those bottles as though they contained life-giving serum for the world. I stood while my Mom opened the big screen door and reached to open the inner door, when the world stopped. The screen door bumped me and I lost my grip in both hands. Ohhhh! The bottles fell from my hands and hit that concrete porch. I’ve heard folks talking about how there are moments time stands still and then moves forward very slowly. I still remember watching the bottles head downward and appearing to bounce, as fountains of deep purple and blue liquid danced in the air as the bottle burst on the concrete porch. My hands were still held as though I was holding the bottles in my hands, but alas I had lost the sweet nectar. I didn’t cry, because I realized the gift had been in my hands, and Mr. Fred had given me a special gift that day.
We went into the house, my Mom had me start eating my lunch, while she cleaned up the porch and removed the glass. Evidently, Mom must have telephoned my Dad at the Feed Mill and explained what happened. When he came home that evening, he told me he had brought something for me from Mr. Fred. My Dad was holding two bottles of Delish Grape Soda. It still touches my heart.
Let’s come forward to 2014. Today, I was in Adams for the Annual Kentucky-Tennessee Threshermens’ Show helping my brother in his craft booth with Gourds. Moss’s Restaurant is located in the same place. I asked Christy was kind of dessert she ended up making for this weekend event. She was telling me about these wonderful desserts, when she mentioned banana pudding. Christy’s mom, Brenda Moss, makes the best banana pudding in the world, among many other great things. I told Christy I would stop by to get me two bowls of banana pudding to go, since I would be heading out-of-town tomorrow. About an hour later, Christy showed up with a covered cup. She said this is the last of the banana pudding, and I knew you would be gone tomorrow and wouldn’t be here to get any. It still touches my heart. I safely carried this cup of pudding to my house, up my steps and into the house without dropping it on my concrete porch. I carefully selected a spoon and wandered over to my rocking chair, ripped off the top and savored every bite. Thanks Christy. I think what makes this even more special to me is that Christy is the granddaughter of Mr. Fred. Her Mom, Brenda, is Mr. Fred’s youngest daughter.
Thanks Mr. Fred for everything – for the first two bottles of Delish Grape Soda, for safely carrying me to the car, for the second two bottles, and for raising a daughter who carries your heart, and for a granddaughter who embodies a caring soul. How blessed are we all!