I first met Herb Parker when I was working as a soda jerk in the old soda fountain in my hometown. He was the delivery man for 7up. He came to town every week and stopped at the gas station, the restaurant and at the soda fountain.
I think he saved the soda fountain as the last stop so he could sit on a stool at the fountain and have a soft drink and tease the soda jerks that were working that day. He was as big a tease as my Dad, but he quickly found out that I could keep up with him, because I had learned from the master.
When we moved to Macksville we discovered that Herb lived there. And coincidentally, his wife ran the soda fountain. Lucy and I became friends right away because of our love of the soda fountain. She also loved the fact that I could keep up with Herb and even pull one over on him now and then.
The salon I worked in was next door to the soda fountain so I spent a lot of time over there drinking cherry cokes with Lucy and plotting against Herb.
Herb and his wife lived north of the soda fountain on main, in a darling little house. They had a huge front yard with one tree in the middle. They never had a good looking yard, and I never understood why until I stopped in one night to visit Lucy.
Herb asked me to come into the kitchen to see his latest batch. I wondered on the way to the kitchen, a batch of what; cookies maybe? When I walked into the kitchen there were bottles everywhere and I discovered he made his own wine.
That night it was rhubarb wine, but he also made dandelion wine. So now I understood the yard full of little yellow flowers. I had never tasted wine, and reluctantly accepted a taste. Besides the fact that the rhubarb was very tart, it felt like fire going down my throat. I felt it hit the bottom of my stomach and then lurch back up my throat to burn its way down again.
I was reluctant to try the dandelion wine, but finally took a sip. It felt like it was eating the lining of my throat as it went down, and it hit my stomach like a ball of fire. A couple sips of his wine hit me like a sledge hammer, and I was glad it was only a few blocks home.
Herb and Lucy had a little Pomeranian dog named Rusty. He was the cutest little red ball of fluff. They would tie him to the tree in the evenings so he could watch the cars drive by. One night while riding around in my white Catalina convertible with a friend, I thought of a way to zing Herb.
We drove up main and there was Rusty sitting by the tree and Herb was no where in sight. I stopped the car and ran up to the tree. Rusty was excited to see me and was leaping as high as he could, wanting me to pick him up.
When I finally managed to catch him in mid jump, I removed his collar and then hooked it back together, and dropped it on the ground and ran towards the car. All the way to the car I had my hands full with a wiggling ball of fluff, who was so excited he didn’t know what to do.
When I got back to the car I tossed Rusty to my friend (the top was down) and slid onto the seat closing the door gently, then pulled away as quietly as I could. Once we were down the street she allowed Rusty to look over the side of the car and enjoy the ride.
He had been with us about 15 minutes, when we met Herb on Main Street in his car. I pushed Rusty down on the floor and held him there with my right hand as Herb flagged us down. Once we were side by side I asked him what was going on. He said that Rusty had gotten out of his collar and was loose. He wanted to know if we had seen him.
Rusty could hear his voice and was really squirming, but I managed to keep him down and fairly quiet. I told Herb we hadn’t seen him but would look for him. We headed on down the street and I let Rusty loose.
We met Herb 4 more times. Each time I would shove Rusty to the floor and hold him there when Herb passed by and I would shake my head and tell him we hadn’t seen him yet.
About 45 minutes after we had kidnapped Rusty we met Herb on Main Street one more time. I had Rusty down on the floor again, but he started to bark and really wiggle around and I couldn’t keep him down. He came bounding up into my lap and put his paws on the window ledge and barked at Herb.
Neither my friend nor I could contain our laughter. It only took a few seconds for Herb to realize we had taken Rusty and had had him all that time in the car. He called us a few choice names, swore revenge and started to laugh as he got out of the car and took Rusty back.
A few weeks later, I left work to go home and my car was not sitting out front where I usually left it. (You never took the keys out of your car in that small town.) I went straight to the soda fountain and started to yell at Herb. He wouldn’t admit to taking it so I had to start looking for it on foot.
I found it parked in the alley behind Herb’s house. When I arrived back at the soda fountain, I put it in park and then revved it up to make the glass packs roar before shutting it off. When I walked in the door Herb was almost rolling on the floor because he had gotten even with me.
Over the next 2 months, even though we tried several times, we only managed to steal Rusty one time. But that time when I got back in the car I really stepped on the gas and the glass packs really roared.
Awhile later we met Herb on Main Street and we stopped to talk to him. He said he knew we had Rusty so I let the red ball of fluff back up on my lap. After a few threats and some laughs Herb got out of his car and took his dog back. We really had fun with Herb and Rusty that summer. To contact Sandy: [email protected]