March 25, 2008
Cordele- Sometimes waiting on a friend doesn't seem as long when you have something to look at such as an interesting collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia.
"I think it's really unusual, eye catching. Just different to have it here," says Shirley Duckworth, a frequent customer at Mindy's Sheer Magic, a beauty parlor for dogs. "I always try to look and see what I haven't seen already."
LeJoyce Simpkins owns the dog grooming business. "On a slow day we'll groom about 10 dogs. Late in the week we do about 30 a day. We stay pretty busy," says LeJoyce who operates a pet grooming business that includes her personal Coca-Cola collection.
LeJoyce gives her customers a free trip down memory lane if they want to take a walk of a few steps that covers decades of refreshment history.
She often takes the walk herself, even when she works fast and furious on those busy days. LeJoyce treats herself to a pause that refreshes by looking at the collection that sits in the front of her shop.
Where does she get all the soft drink memorabilia? She leads an all volunteer army. "All my friends and family look for me," says LeJoyce. "If they see something they are going to grab it for me."
LeJoyce looks, as well. "I usually find them (items) at flea markets or yard sales. People just have them thrown over to the side lots of the time," says LeJoyce.
A pile of junk bottles often holds a treasure or two for LeJoyce.
Her son got her started collecting. A customer of his had an old stand-up Coke machine. When the son inquired about it, the owner gave it to him immediately. He brought it home and she found that it worked. It stands in the corner of her modest business.
"It worked a long time. It puts out a lot of heat in the summer and burns a lot of electricity," says LeJoyce.
The old machine sold bottle Cokes for a quarter each, but she doesn't use it because of its energy inefficiency. A table that sits near the old dispensing machine holds dozens of Coke items that some people have never seen.
You can't miss a tall bottle of Coke that holds one-pint and ten-ounces of the popular drink. It sits in the middle of a table and gets immediate attention because of its dominating size. On its bottom lists 1955, the year LeJoyce says it was created.
A short, squatty bottle that holds 13.5 fluid ounces of Coke, would make an excellent Santa Claus, and shows not all Coke bottles had the same shape regardless of its size.
One bottle includes an image of an Indian chief in base relief on one side. "It's got Cordele, Georgia on the bottom. My son found it in the ground and it wasn't hurt," says LeJoyce with a quick laugh.
She has Matchbox toys of Coke delivery vehicles, toy airplanes, a writing pen in a box that looks like a bottle, stuffed bears and a Coca-Cola Barbie in its original box.
Her pride and joy of the collection stays in a book -Coca-Cola trading cards. "Just some advertisements they had through the years. They had some beautiful artwork," says LeJoyce as she flipped through the plastic pages that hold nine cards per page.
Where did she find them? "Anywhere they had baseball cards, but they don't have them anymore," says LeJoyce who has all 397 of them.
Two, small metal bottles have what looks like knife blades. "They are cheese spreaders," says LeJoyce.
She has dozens and dozens of glass bottles, many with pictures of NASCAR drivers, but a few commemorate popular events.
One bottle promotes Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets movie. Another one marks Jackie Robinson's 50th anniversary as a baseball player. One dedicated to Donald Trump sits near a bottle that commemorates the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games held in Atlanta from July 9, 1996 through August 4, 1996.
Her collection consists mostly of bottled cokes, with one or two canned sodas sitting on the collection tables, in plain view for her customers to enjoy a little visual refreshment.