What is a hobby that you have and why do you think you enjoy it?
My favorite hobby would have to be collecting soft drink advertising items. I started when I was a teen and continue the practice even today, although I’ve slowed down a bit due to storage space and price.
I first started collecting soda bottles at about twelve years old or so. I got a large Coca-Cola bottle when I went to an auction with my grandfather. He told me that the man we got it from used to work for the Coca-Cola Company here in town. The second bottle I got was a large 7-Up bottle that I retrieved from a small restaurant downtown. The number of bottles in my collection quickly grew and I remember they rested on shelves on the wall beside my bed. Heaven help me if we should ever have had an earthquake.
At some point along the path, I started to collect soft drink signs. There was a local farmers’ market where you could get older signs at very reasonable prices. This was back before their popularity caught fire and prices escalated.
I would also find cola signs out and about that were eventually headed for the landfill and I rescued them from their demise. One of my favorite places to go was a local sign company that did contract work in installing and removing Pepsi-Cola signs. I asked one day what they were going to do with them and they said when their pile got big enough, they would be taking them to the landfill. I asked if I could take them and they were more than willing to let me take that load off their hands.
The favorite part of my collection has to be those that I was able to get from my great-grandfather’s general store. The day before the store was demolished, I was given access and could take what I could get. This included the largest sign now in my collection, a Coca-Cola sign that hung on the back side of the store. It took quite a while to get it to come down, but alas, I was successful.
As time went on, as I got married and had a family, I found my time and interest in collecting dwindled somewhat. Signs also became very popular items for home decor and as a result, their prices went up, and reproductions were then made. Today I can buy a reproduction for what I used to be able to purchase the real deal.
I think my connection and love of collecting soda bottles and signs are directly related to the fact that some of my fondest memories of childhood were the time that I spent at my great-grandfather’s store. We pretty much had the run of the place and there were so many interesting characters who would regularly appear there. One of my jobs (truthfully perhaps my only one) was to fill the drink boxes each day. I still to this day can remember the aroma that each of the boxes had as I reached down inside to replenish the supply.
Collecting soda bottles and advertising are something I think I’ll always have love for. Just today, I purchased an old filled Coca-Cola bottle at an estate sale. It already has a prominent space in my display of other bottles. Cheers to soda advertising and collecting!