Those two nickels I used to get every day as an allowance were sufficient for most of my needs as a child. After all, it would provide two candy bars, two Popsicles, or could be combined to buy a can of Shasta.
But occasionally, a young man might need a bit more cash in hand. You could go ask mom or dad for more nickels. Yeah, right. THAT would work.
No, if you needed more moolah, you had to earn it. And there just weren’t that many job opportunities for a seven-year-old kid.
But there was always a source of income for the industrious: picking up pop bottles.
Pop bottles were frequently tossed out of car windows by the wealthy (i.e. those who didn’t mind tossing two cents into the ditch). And there they lay, awaiting youngsters (and winos) needing to make some pocket change. All they had to do was seek, find, and lug.
Moonwink Grocery was happy to take them off of my hands. And at two cents apiece, all it took was scoring five lousy pop bottles to double my daily allowance! How much easier could it be to get rich?
I remember spending many a summer day prowling the ditches of Miami, Oklahoma seeking the glass commodities that fetched legal tender at ANY market that happened to be close. Of course, sometimes we had to take certain brands of bottles to specific stores that sold them. Not everybody sold Canada dry, as I recall, and you would hack off store owners who didn’t by attempting to unload them at their places of business.
I guess there are still states that mandate returnable bottles. And I guess kids in those states (and winos) pick up the bottles to cash them in. But most of the U.S. youngsters have never even heard of making money by picking up the spent soft drink receptacles.
That’s too bad. There was something nicely satisfying about trading a valuable commodity for cash. It made the candy or pop taste better, somehow. And it was also good for the environment.
For some more great pop-bottle-picking-up memories and photos of classic bottles, check out http://tulsatvmemories.com/pop.html