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Thursday, January 1, 1970

Collecting and cashing in soda bottles for a 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle

Timeline 1969-1977. My age: 7-16. Location: Little Rock Arkansas.

When I was 7 years old, with the aid and encouragement of my parents, I opened a savings account at Pulaski Federal Savings & Loan, a local bank in Little Rock Arkansas. My plan was to save up money to buy a car when I turned 16.

I had no allowance, but my dad encouraged me to go out make the money myself by picking up soda bottles and turning them in at the grocery store for money. I think the bottles were worth 5 cents on return, but I may be wrong on that, for some reason 3 cents is stuck in my head also.

I always took them to Bonner's Thriftway, at 5219 W 65th Street Little Rock, Arkansas 72209, which was just about adjacent to the Rosewood Apartments we lived at on Lancaster Road.

Typical case of Cokes, the wood frame case is how I transported the bottles.
  I don't know how people did with litter in the rest of the US in those years, but in Arkansas people simply drank a soda and threw the bottle on the ground.

I don't mean occasionally. I mean everyone, everywhere, all the time.

The land was a goldmine of glass bottles, and I worked like a little gold miner everyday collecting them.

My dad was really supportive. He would take me to the Benton Speedbowl (dirt track sprint car racing oval track on Interstate 30 just north of Benton) during the day after a major race the night before, and I would gather all the bottles left under the bleachers. Those were the biggest payoff days.

I recall a lot about the savings account also. The account type was marketed to little kids. They had promoted it on the Bozo Show, which I admit got my attention. Years later I heard something about a scam on little kids perpetrated by Bozo himself and the bank. Nothing odd happened to the sum of my savings. Maybe Bozo was simply payed for his PR for the bank, which is pretty standard and I have no problem with.

I loved the savings account -the little coin holders one filled with nickels, dimes and quarters that managed your money into increments of dollars, and functioned as the deposit holder for going into the bank account. I loved going to the bank after hours and depositing in the envelope drop (no ATM, no electronic management at all).

Years would go by, and my little account grew into 20, 60, 100, 150 dollars. All with no allowance. Later I would wash cars to add to the sum.

Finally, in early 1978, just a little before my 17th birthday, my dad found a 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle. It had 62,000 miles on it, had been driven by one lady. It was in perfect mechanical condition, but rough interior and almost never washed. I bought it for $280. It was white and a two-door, automatic transmission with only two speeds, 283 cubic inch V-8, and an AM radio with a single speaker on the top of the dash.

When we brought it home we spent one evening on a massive cleaning project on the car. I recall even using kerosene on the body to remove all the old dirt and dead paint. Then we waxed it several times. Later we had the seats redone in red vinyl.

Coke bottles into awesome car, mission complete.

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