Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tribute To An Original Money Walker

Journal Entry: Weight = 176.2; Coinage = $.178, 37 pennies, 3 nickels, 5 dimes, 3 quarters; Glass Bottles retrieved = 13; Ground Scores = 3; Best coinage = two quarters found in a newspaper vending machine. One of the best feelings in the world is when a blind inquiry performed with a searching finger into the coin return cavern is met with a yes.

Feature Entry: James Clovis Shepherd was born November 17, 1942 in the high plains of Texas, the second son of a Baptist minister. As an adolescent, like many PKs, he was dually defined—one by his salvation and one by original sin. At age 11 he moved to my home town with his family, his father was the pastor of the First Baptist Church. We became best friends and remained that way for life.

For several years after each church service, James and I alternated Sunday lunch invitations; one Sunday my house, the next Sunday his house. We had the entire afternoon before regrouping and heading for the mandatory Sunday evening services. Probably from boredom, we developed the habit of taking long walks.

Then it happened, we began to discover discarded soft-drink bottles. In those days, bottles could be returned for two cents a bottle. A movie costs a dime and a gallon of gas about a quarter. The big four were Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, R.C. Cola, and Seven-up. But we also found Hines Root Beer, Nehi Orange, and Squirt bottles. There were other brands from areas “out of market” that could not be redeemed. These ground scores became our “rare pop bottle collection.”

We never knew how many bottles we would find; some days only one or two, others we needed a large sack to carry them. Over time we became incredibly proficient at spotting redeemable “pop bottles.” Later as a young father, my children still remember their embarrassment as I stopped the car and directed them to retrieve a bottle for their own collection.

The bottles that James and I found were redeemed at the grocery stores in our small town. The grocers were annoyed when these two toe-headed boys came lugging into their store a wash-tub full of dissimilar, stained, and unmatched pop bottles. But we learned that if Brother Shepherd came with us, they always smiled and were happy to make the exchange. Usually we saved until we had 100 bottles, a net of $1.00 a piece. The money went into a private bank and saved until we could do something special such as a new ball glove.

Two years ago this original money walker died after a gallant battle with a very rare form of cancer--Carcinoid Syndrome. Thanks my friend for all you were and continue to be.


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