WHERE’S THE SODA, JERK?
Samuel Fahnestock was given a patent for the first soda fountain in 1819. Carbonated mineral water was all the rage at the time. Joseph Priestley had created the first man-made carbonated water back in 1767, and Jacob Schweppes had developed a method of mass producing it, quickly leading to the production of different brands of soda and different flavors. Fahnestock’s soda fountain allowed these drinks to be sold by the glass. Oddly enough, it took more than fifty years for someone to create the first ice cream soda, even though ice cream had been around since at least the 10th century.
At the peak of their popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, soda fountains were everywhere – in pharmacies, ice cream parlors, candy stores, department stores, and five-and-dimes. They were public meeting places (or hangouts, when occupied by teenagers).
Soda fountains required the services of a soda jerk. The name referred not to the personality of the person serving sodas but to the jerking action used to swing the soda fountain handle back and forth when dispensing soda. The position of jerk was actually quite sought after and usually came only after an extended period of service in less desirable positions. The soda jerk was the star of the soda fountain show.
The decline of the soda fountain began in the early 1950s when the Walgreens chain introduced full self-service drug stores. Hello Dairy Queen and McDonalds and supersizing; goodbye chocolate soda with two straws and two cents plain.
sick in de stomach, part 3: turtle lust
“I’ve got a dandy soup pot and loads of vegetables – onions, carrots, potatoes,” said Christian, when they reconvened at noon the next day in Albert’s Booby Bay Cafe.
“I got lots of leaves,” said Mutton. “I couldn’t find very many in the bay, so I got a bunch from out back.”
“That stuff you got there is just fine and all that,” said Basil, grinning. “But it ain’t turtle soup yet. Old Basil’s got the turtle goods.” He pulled his hand from behind his back and held before them, by its tail, a three-inch turtle.
“I don’t think that will make much broth,” said Christian, inspecting the turtle. “Say, isn’t that little Gustave’s pet turtle?”
“What kind of a pet is a turtle for a young lad? Won’t fetch nothin’.”
“It’s too small anyway,” said Christian.
“Now you didn’t say nothin’ ’bout how big a turtle you wanted, did ya? How much turtle d’ya need? Albert’s just one little Frenchie. Okay, okay, you start cookin’ them onions. Mutton, take this little critter back to Gustave, and I’ll go find a big turtle, which I would’ve found before, if someone had only said as such.” Basil made a trip to the bar for a refill, then headed off alone, the rum sloshing in his glass, mumbling as he went: “The lad won’t never make a seafarer, I’ll warrant, not ’til he learns how to give directions proper.”
The vegetables and leaves were boiling violently in the pot of water when Basil returned two hours later, dragging a bulky burlap bag behind him. “Got us a right fine turtle here,” he said. “A big’un like old Moby Dick, ‘cept he was a whale and Ahab only had one leg where I got two legs, and this here’s a turtle.” Basil ripped open the burlap bag to reveal a 200-pound tortoise. The tortoise took one look at them and retreated into his shell.
“That’s a lot of turtle,” said Christian.
“First he’s too little, now he’s too big. You’re bein’ mighty picky about the size of turtles. This here one’s the only other one on the whole island.”
“I think these turtles are endangered,” said Christian.
“I know this here turtle’s endangered.”
“He won’t fit in the pot,” argued Christian.
“He wouldn’t want to anyway,” said Mutton. “It’s pretty hot in there.”
“First, we gotta dismember ‘im.”
“What’s dismember?” asked Mutton.
Basil shook his head. “It’s just like rememberin’ except, in this case, we cut him into little pieces.”
“Won’t that hurt?” asked Mutton.
“It would if we didn’t bop him on the head first.”
“Have you ever bopped a turtle on the head, Basil?” Christian asked.
“Never bopped no turtle. Bashed me a scalawag though.”
“What’s it like?” asked Mutton. “Does it hurt a lot?”
“Well,” said Basil, “first he looks at you all twirly like, eyes wigglin.’ And sometimes they just stays open and keeps wigglin’ while the brains squirts outen ‘is skull and flies all over tarnation.”
“But it don’t hurt none,” Basil concluded.
Christian shook his head. “Okay, go ahead and do it. I’m going to wait over there.”
“Me too,” said Mutton, and he followed Christian away. Basil found a good size rock and sat down next to the tortoise.
Sick in de Stomach is one of the 15 stories from Calypso, Stories of the Caribbean, available as an ebook or in a print edition with real pages and everything.