When I was a boy growing up on Waquoit Bay on Cape Cod, there was a yacht club with a large porch and balcony facing the bay. On one side of the porch, they kept a small canon. You shot a blank shell when you pulled this string, and the shot would signal the start of a race for Knockabouts or Beetlecats from between two buoy markers that represented the starting line.
If you were on one of those sailboats, you would first see this small puff of smoke made by that little canon before actually hearing the blast a few moments later — this was my first lesson in physics, although I didn’t realize it at the time.
That was on one side of the porch. But on the other side sat this battered, bright-red Coke machine that purred a steady motor throughout the entire hot summer. Even in the warmest part of July and August, this Coke machine would itself be cold to the touch, with a little shiver from that always humming, steady motor.
In the sweltering heat of the dog days of summer, one would be but a thin dime away from instant relief. You put that dime into the machine and pulled this grey metal handle down hard, and then you would hear the 12-oz coke bottle rattle its way down the inside of the machine and pop out this rubberized opening at the bottom. The thick-glass Coke bottles then had this strange greenish hue and had a metal cap. You would take the cap off by putting it into this metal cap remover located conveniently and logically right on the Coke machine.
That first wonderful belt of really cold Coke in the intense heat of summer was the best drink I’ve have ever had or ever will have. Nothing compared to it then and nothing has compared to it since, not the finest wine or the priciest scotch — for the price of a skinny dime. There was such a thing as value in those day.