I used to be a soda jerk at Renfro’s Drugs on 35th Street. It was next door to Lou Sweet’s A&P. My parents knew someone who worked for the company. This friend was an accountant, I believe, and he and his family lived on the second floor of the store on South Congress across from Fulmore Junior High School. I made hamburgers and sandwiches, and mixed a variety of drinks. For fountain drinks such as Coca Cola and Dr Pepper, we would squirt in a concentrated syrup and then add carbonated water. We also made malts, shakes, and floats. The only flavors for malts back then were chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. One day when I wasn't too busy, I created a new drink that became my all time favorite: a Dr Pepper malt.
Our malts were made with only the best ice cream. Milk was added to give it the right consistency. For my new invention I replaced the milk with cream. There were probably tons of calories in that drink, but no one thought about that back then. Mmm.
I'd forgotten about that time in my life until recently. Celeste and I had a long weekend away in a B&B in Glen Rose, Texas. We were close to Dublin, and everyone knows that's where you get real Dr Pepper. See www.dublindrpepper.com. They use Imperial pure cane sugar instead of the high fructose stuff you usually get. I learned Dublin Dr Pepper is actually bottled in Temple, but it was fun visiting the combination museum and old time fountain. I told the man behind the fountain about the Dr Pepper malt I had invented, and he said they make them all the time. I ordered one and the memories poured in. I was a teenager again. I savored that drink and thought of Austin the way it was in the fifties.
While writing Where Love Once Lived, the older version of Austin popped into my head often. I didn't ignore the new Austin which I've learned to love, but I'm reminded of a happy time in my life. Have you found ways to visit your childhood? I'd like to hear about it.