September 15, 2006


CheerwineAd.jpgCame home last night to find an e-mail from Willie Drye, author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. He was writing from Side Salad's Doppler 12,000 Hurricane Bureau in North Carolina.

As a devoted Tar Heel, Willie had more than a small interest in the Cheerwine posting I put up:

From: Willie Drye
Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 7:01 PM
Subject: Cheerwine!

Hey Jeff:

For the past couple of days, I've been setting up a new monster Dell PC. I've become so deeply absorbed in various video games and blinding speed on the Internet that I failed to notice that you are or were in Charlotte and had become acquainted with Cheerwine.

What a great soft drink. It was created with the Southern fondness for sweet beverages. It's no accident that the world's largest selling soft drinks were created in the South -- Coca-Cola in Atlanta and Pepsi in New Bern, North Carolina. We do have a sweet tooth down here.

Cheerwine was the elixir of my childhood. I much preferred it to Coca-Cola (or, as we say back home, "Co-Cola"). And it was truly a hometown beverage. It's bottled in Salisbury, which is only 18 miles up U.S. 52 from my hometown of Misenheimer.

You have to understand the place that Salisbury held for me in those days. Salisbury is where we went when we wanted to go to a decent grocery store or clothing store. It's where my dad went to buy my mother's engagement ring. And since Misenheimer was in a "dry" county, you could actually get a beer or a bottle of booze in Salisbury without having to go to a bootlegger and worry about people talking about you in church Sunday.

So Salisbury was to me as Mount Pilot was to Andy and Barney in Mayberry. It was a big deal to go to Salisbury. When you went to Salisbury, you were, to use another rural back-home phrase, "going to Town."

Jane and I were in Salisbury last month when we went home for my dad's 88th birthday. I bought a six-pack of Cheerwine in the familiar 12-oz. bottles. I don't think you can buy it outside of piedmont North Carolina and a few counties in South Carolina.

A few days later, I opened one of them when Jane brought home some eastern North Carolina barbecue for supper. Oh boy, I thought. Just like the old days.

Man, was it sweet. I remembered turning up the bottle and guzzling it when I was a 12-year-old. A few nights ago, I could only take modest swallows with my BBQ. They say your taste buds change as you get older. Alas, I can testify that they do. This Cheerwine wasn't bad, and I'll undoubtedly finish these six and get more next time I'm home. But it wasn't as delightful as when I was a kid, coming off the baseball field, hot and sweaty and eager to plunk down my six cents for an ice-cold Cheerwine.

I'm eager to read what you have to say about Charlotte, which is about 35 miles from Misenheimer. I think you know, I've never been fond of that place. But I'll save my Charlotte rant for another time.



Posted by Jeff at September 15, 2006 06:22 AM | TrackBack
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