When I soda pop came in glass bottles and had metal, pry off caps, the caps had a cork lining. Even though as a kid, I was anxious to taste the refreshing, Coke, Pepsi, Orange Crush, Grape Nehi, or the Cherokee red fizzing drink captured inside, I would take care not to bend the metal top. The cap was almost as good as the prize that hid in the depth of the caramel covered pop corn and peanuts of the box of Cracker Jacks. I would carefully pry the cork lining from the glue that held it tight against the cap, praying that it would come out in one piece. When it did, I would put the cap on the outside of my shirt or jacket and slide the cork on the inside until they met. Then I would push the cork back inside of the cap, making a badge that stuck to the clothing. Sometimes I would be able to collect several pop tops when the bin on the soda machine was full. I’d slip my fingers inside of the slot and fish out as many as I could reach. Soon, I would be sporting a chest full of medals, just like an admiral in the Navy or general of an army.
Everyone talks about green and recycling today and yet they make everything of plastic. The glass pop bottles financed my trips to the grocery store two miles away. I would walk those two miles, collecting the unbroken soda bottles that motorists would toss from their moving cars. Carrying as many bottles that I could find, I would trade them in for another cold drink, sometimes a candy bar, and if I found several quart bottles, there would be enough to buy a small box of matches. The matches were great. I would stop in the middle of the stone bridge that spanned Indian Creek and snap one match at a time across the strike paper on the side of the box and watch as the lit match turned end over end to fizzle out in the water below.
Now, began the trek back home. I would walk on the opposite side of the road, nursing my soda to make it last and searching for bottles on that side. When I would find one, I would carry it along until I made a cache of several for my next trip to Resh’s Red and White Store.
Sometime I would forgo the matches and buy a package of balloons or baseball cards. The baseball cards or balloons would be tied to my bicycle and they would make motor noises as they rubbed against the spokes. When the balloons rubbed, they made a thrumming noise and the baseball cards would make a fluttering sound, but either one allowed a kid to think they were special. Neither the balloon nor the card lasted forever and they fell victim to friction.