The Magazine for
Soda Collectors Everywhere
By T.L. Rogers
When I was 6 or so (I was born in 1950), we moved a few short blocks from a small neighborhood grocery store by the name of ìBurkholdersî. The store had a big "White Villa" sign on a good portion of the front. The neighborhood kids referred to the store as "Burkies" or errantly, "Brookies".
When not on an actual grocery errand for our mothers, "Burkies" was a kid's destination for candy, inexpensive knick-knacks or toys, sodas and, for me especially, ball cards with an occasional "Power House", "Chum Gum", "PayDay" or sunflower seed purchase. My Aunt Mary would give me a 50-cent piece and the usual result of a short bicycle ride from her house through some alleys and streets to "Burkies" was 10 packs of baseball cards.
"Burkies" was the site of a major impropriety the day I talked a neighborhood friend into spending the change left over from money his mother had given him to buy a loaf of bread or some such. The change was enough to pretty much buy a complete box of 1958 "Topps" baseball cards and then some. Upon returning home with the cards and a couple of bucks less change, his mother was irate, I was fingered, and my parents informed.
My parents purchased the cards from her for the sake of peace in the neighborhood and to end the episode. I can still picture that box of cards sitting on the top shelf of the cupboard in the kitchen where the cups, glasses and tumblers were kept. A pack of those precious cards was presented to me whenever it was felt that I deserved it. It didn't take as long as it probably should have for me to gain possession of all the card packs. I just wish I would have hung on to them.
"Burkies" was presided over by one Mr. Harry Burkholder. To me, he seemed friendly enough once I came to terms with what I believe was his dry sense of humor. The only time I ever saw him seem seriously disgruntled was when I entered the store with a couple of the children that lived much closer to the store than I did. I knew them from the school where I went.
When I saw one of them head for the back of the store and disappear out a back door, "Twinkie" in hand, I understood the gravity displayed by Mr. Burkholder. When I visited the store in later years and would see the big round mirrors hanging from the ceiling over the end aisles I would think of this incident.
During my college years (and to this day) I had the collecting bug and would try and obtain anything that I may have once had or that reminded me of my childhood years. I must say that I am not an expert relative to any aspect of soda pop collectibles and I am not probably a true soda collector per se. But I am certainly a person that is willing to pursue anything that facilitates in any way, shape or form, tangible links to my childhood.
I would drop into "Burkies" every so often and try to get Mr. Burkholder to sell some piece of advertising, which still adorned both the inside and outside of the store.
As I remember it there was even a soda thermometer on the tree outside the store entrance. The tin soda signs used as door kickplates and soda thermometers that were there in my baseball card days were still there, just a little more worse for wear.
Some days he would smile and say, "He didn't think so" and some days he would ask, "What are you offering?" Negotiations were always friendly and, while I was never able to get the door advertising kickplates, I did end up with a few soda thermometers that were in good enough condition for me.
One day in the early '70s my mother said that Mr. Burkholder told her he would like to talk to me. He referred to me as an 'entrepreneur', much to my mother's amusement. I was pretty intrigued. When I got to "Burkies", Mr. Burkholder asked me to go with him into a back room of the store. I was fascinated.
Upon entry you had to be careful where you stepped as a good portion of the floor of the room was covered with soda pop bottles, cases, as well as 6 and 8 packs. He asked if I had any interest in buying the whole lot of pop bottles littering his floor.
I figured I couldn't afford all of them, but he said he couldn't get the current soda suppliers to take them. They were either not brands from the area or brands no longer being bottled at least in the area, or perhaps for other reasons unexplained.
He only wanted what money he had in them. I immediately thought that at even 10 cents a shot it would put a crimp in my meager budget, but he said: "No, these bottles cost me 2 cents a piece, and that is all I want out of them." It was then just a matter of hauling them out of there. I backed my 1972 Pontiac Lemans up to the back of the store and made quite a few trips before they were all out of Mr. Burkholder's way. My Aunt Mary let me store them in her screened-in porch until I could find some better place.
Not too long after that, my aunt called and said that someone had cut the screen door to her porch and stole some of the soda cases. On the way to her house I noticed cases of soda (and who else could they belong to) sitting here and there on the neighborhood lawns. I don't know if the purloiners got tired of carrying the heavy soda cases or realized that the soda was not what they were used to seeing in the stores and doubted their ability to get the dime per bottle deposit, but I was tickled when I saw them.
All seemed present and accounted for. I decided then and there to catalog them. One of the reclaimed cases was full of the empties of the Donald Duck pop that I so loved as a child. This was the drink of choice that my Uncle Bill bought for me at his Eagles Lodge. We would take out drinks and a pack of crackers to the river levy behind the Lodge to feed the ducks of a non-Walt Disney variety.
To the best of my recollection the Donald Duck pop was orange flavored with little or no carbonation. A case of Spraul's empties with its distinctive Trojan armor headpiece logo was also lying there (Spraul's Beverage Co., at least in the 1930's was located at: 5 Terrance Place, Troy, OH). These two bottle varieties were the two that I would have least liked to have lost for the obvious sentimental reasons.
It is some 30 years later, and, valueless or not, I have hauled these bottles around with me to wherever I have moved; they are still in basically the same cases and occasional cartons that were sitting there on the floor of "Burkholders". After all these years I feel I am finally getting close to perhaps cleaning them up and displaying them.
Just a few observations: I was surprised at how many people must have had the idea to clean up their Catsup bottles and slip them into the soda cartons for a slippery 2-cent gain. Twice more my mother called to say that Mr. Burkholder wanted to see me.
These last two times he said he was tired of finding the trading cards that bottlers were putting in their cartons, strewn and "would I pull them out of the cartons and take them." I was more than happy to oblige. Thank you, Mr. Burkholder.
The following lists the pop bottle brands that I received from Mr. Burkholder. Most brands were obtained with numerous bottle variations:
2 Way; Anchorr; Baldschun; Big Red; Big Sandy Maid; Beverages Inc.; Bubble Up; Canada Dry Water; Carters; CC Soda; Cheer Up; Chocolate Rock; Chocolate Soldier; Clicquot Club; Crass; Crush; Dad's; Dana; Donald Duck; Double Cola; Double Measure Double Cola; Faygo Orange; Faygo Strawberry; Fox Beverage; Frostie; Gateway; Gem; Gem Better Beverage; Golden Age; Golden Girl Cola; Grapette; Hartman; Julep; Kenton; Kickapoo Joy Juice; Lemonette; Lotta Cola; M & S; Macdonalds; Masons; Mikay; Mission; Mr. Cola; Nesbitts; Ness; Nicks; NuGrape; Old Swallows Rootbeer; Oneta Club; Orange Crush; Pabst; Pokagon; Pommac; Quench; Cinch; Schweppes Bitter Lemon; Schweppes Club Soda; Schweppes Quinine Water; Schweppes Tonic Water; Shields; Society Beverage; Spraul's; Star City; Suncrest; Sundrop; Sunrise; Swallows; Tops; TruAde; Trudel; Upper 10; Variety Club; Vess; Diet Cola; Wagner Ginger Ale; Wagner Lift; Wapakoneta; Whistle; Yoo Hoo.
Memories of Burkholder's