Hippies Coke Bottles and the Long Arm of the Law

This is from a couple of years ago… I liked the idea but decided to change a few things. I think I still had the Covid brain fog when originally written, so a re-write was in order.

Currently, we get between 5 and 10 thousand page views a week, but back then we only had about 50 page views a week so there’s a 99.99% chance you never read this.

So here it is:

It was the summer of 1960-something when 8 year old me and my older brother by two years decided to collect coke bottles to get some cash.

Back then you could get 5 cents for each empty coke/soda bottle you took back to the store. My older brother, suggested we take our little red wagon door to door and ask people if we could have thier stash. Our delivery was simple, “Hi, we’re collecting coke bottles to make money. Have any?” Usuallly folks were happy to get rid of the empty bottles piled in the garage or under the kitchen sink.

Then we come to this one house with a grumpy man, “Why the hell should I give you my coke bottles? I paid good money for those!” he half yelled at us. “Now get out of here!” he said as he slammed the door in our face.

I was little shook up. Some folks would say no, but this was a bit much. I wanted to stop, but my brother insisted we continue on…so we did. We ended up with a pretty good run and made a whopping $2.50, which is like $25 in today’s economy.

That’s when my brother had an idea. “We should go to the store and buy a big bag of chips for a dollar and a 50 cent bottle of soda and sell it to them hippies at the park. If we charge 20 cents for a handful of chips, and we get 10 handfuls per bag, we’d make $2 for a $1 bag of chips. We’d more than double our money. Then we could sell small cups of soda and charge 10 cents. With about 10 small cups, we’d make a dollar for a soda that cost 50 cents. We’d spend $1.50 and make about $3.00.”

“What do we put the chips and soda in?” I asked.

“That’s the perfect part!” he replied. “We’ll get ’em from ‘Chicken Delight’. After they closed, they put a bunch of boxes outside that say cups and bowls. Free for the taking!”

“Isn’t that stealing?”

“Not really, they’re out of business. Who ever buys that store is just gonna throw all that stuff out because they have the chicken delight name on ’em.”

The cunning logic of a future lawyer had me convinced.

The next day, we got the “Chicken Delight” cups and bowls, bought 1 bag of potato chips, one quart of soda, set up a cardboard box as our stand and went in business.

Our older brothers used to play football at Mira Vista Park. Now that we’re old enough to play football, we can’t, on account of all the hippies at the park smoking weed. They took our field, it seemed only fair we take their money.

Now all this takes place in the California Bay Area in 1968. Mira Vista park, is about 5 miles from Height-Ashbury, the hippie capitol of the world. For some reason, Mira Vista park became a smaller, but popular hangout.

I remember one hippie, buying a soda saying, “Chicken Delight! I remember that place, where’d you get these?”

“They just had them stored out…” I started.

“We bought ’em at a discount since they went out of business.” my brother interrupted.

At the end of the day, my brother had another idea…

“We should sell sandwiches too.”

“But bread and baloney would cost more.”

“Not if we steal it. Then it would be 100% profit.”

He explained the plan, “I’ll buy the chips and soda and you walk into the store pick up a packet of baloney and bread and walk out the door. We’ll sell the sandwiches for as cheap as we want, because it’ll be 100% profit!”

“It’ll be obvious that I have a loaf of bread under my shirt.”

“No, no, you don’t hide it. You just pick it up and walk out, it’ll look like you’re exchanging it or something. If it looks like your trying to hide it, they’ll know your stealing. Just take it, and walk out.”

“I don’t want to get in trouble for stealing…”

“You won’t get in trouble if you don’t get caught.”

“Oh, that makes sense.” I concluded.

The plan was carried out the next day. I did the stealing and didn’t get caught. Sales were great because pot smokers get the munchies and we were cheap. We were now sitting on a $10 financial empire.

So the next day, we went to the store where my brother would buy chips and soda, and I would take advantage of the 5 finger discount of the day.

I grab a loaf of bread, pick up a pack of bologna and casually walk toward the check-out area and pretend like I’m looking for my mom, I wander around the check-out area and say outloud, but not too loud, “Mom, mom, where are you?” I pretend that I can’t find her and look toward the exit. Then I head for the door as if she might have left without me.

Some pretty good acting if I say so myself.

I was home-free at this point. The automatic door opens as I step on the black mat, just as I’m about to make my get-a-way whena big hand lands on my shoulder. “Going somewhere young man?” He asks.

“I can’t find my mom.” I explain nervously.

“You didn’t pay for that son.” He says sternly.

“I…I…I’m looking for my mom.” I was 8 years old, but only about 3 feet tall so I looked like a 6 year old. According to our pre-determined alibi, I’m a little kid lost and looking for mom.

It was obvious the guard wasn’t buyin’ it. “We’ll see about that, look to me you’re trying to walk out the store without paying for this stuff.” He takes the bread and bologna. “Come with me.” He took my hand and lead me to a managers office and told me to take a seat.

“Wait here while I get the manager”

I was getting more nervous by the minute, in addition, I started sweating and my stomach started with the butterflies. I was certain I was going straight to prison. My mind started to wonder if they had a special prison for kids, and if I would still be in prison when school starts. Does the prison have a school? If not, maybe it would be a little like a vacation.

The manager walked in and sat down at the desk facing me. He looked me right in the eye, sizing me up to see if I would try to lie my way out of this. I had the perfect back-story, but now I’m questioning the alibi, coupled with the fact that I’m a terrible liar. He’ll see right through me with that piercing stare.

“You know what you did was stealing. I’m supposed call the police when someone gets caught stealing. But we’ll wait before we do that. Security said your were looking for your mom. No one’s reported a missing kid. You can just wait here and we’ll wait and see.” And at that, he left.

I knew it…I was going to prison. I have no idea how much time passed, but it seemed like I was there for hours. Finally, the manager returned.

Tears welled up in my eyes. “Please don’t send me to prison, I still wet the bed!” I have no idea where that came from, I stopped wetting the bed when I was four; however, after I said that, the manager cracked a half grin.

“You knew you were stealing didn’t you?” he asked. “I mean, you didn’t try to hide the stuff.”

“I don’t know.” I was scared, “I never did this before…” I confessed.

I couldn’t lie, he would know. But a partial truth might work, I’ll tell him I’m guilty and leave out the part about selling the stuff for pofit.

I wiped the tears from my eyes and noticed something.

This was the man who yelled at us for collecting coke bottles. I wondered if he was just mean by nature, or if we caught him on a bad day. I gambled on the later.

“My mother’s divorced and she doesn’t have a job. We don’t have any food. I just wanted a sandwich.” My stomach growled right on que. “I just wanted to make a sandwich! We tried collecting coke bottles to get the money, but we didn’t get enough…so, so, I stole.” I put my head down and cried. That mumbly-sounding cry that a 6 yr old would do.

I looked up and saw the manager also recognized me from the day before. He had that look that said, this is partly my fault.

“OK, ok, its like this, Taking stuff and not paying for it, is stealing.” he continued, “I could call the police, but I’m not going to do that. If you promise…you promise, never to do this again.”

“I promise” I muttered.

“I’m going to let you go, but I can’t let you take the things you stole.” He opened the office door.

“Thank you, thank you, I promise…never again!” I got up, head down, and slowly took the walk of shame toward the door.

“There’s one more thing.” he added.

“Yes sir?”

“Here’s a dollar…and no more stealing!” he said as he handed me the money.

I took the dollar, and met my brother outside. He said I was gone a long time and he was getting worried. He thought I was in jail already. “I thought we were gonna have to ask dad to send lawyers, guns and money!” He joked.

We proceeded to sell the chips and soda to the hippies.

Once we had our profits, my brother was excited that I got an extra dollar and congratulated me for talking my way out it. I was shaken by the whole ordeal and told him I didn’t want to do this any more. No more soda, chips and especially sandwiches.

And at that, our short business came to an end.


Song in my head:

Coming Next: Something New!

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Bob Senitram

Webmaster and editor of TheWeirdcrap.com. I obtained a bachelor's degree in micro-biology around the turn of the century but was quickly tracked down and forced to return it to its rightful owner and pay a $25 fine. *** A fan of science fiction, I started this website in 1999 as a portal for science fiction stories that have never been published. *** Completely devoid of talent, I decided to call on the public to supply content. Shortly afterwards Stephen and I started writing weekly columns and have continued to this day.


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