Grannie's Memories

Grannie’s Memories – The Infamous Root Beer

Image credit: Pumpkin Sky via Wikimedia Commons.

Here’s the next chapter in my “Grannie’s Memories” series. She wrote them down circa 1967* and these stories are what is inspiring my Work In Progress. She was born in 1923 and grew up in her father’s restaurant in Marietta, Ohio.


On mornings, I’d make my “rounds” which I called “help opening stores.” If any of those people ever felt I was “in the way” so to speak, I can never remember them telling me it was time to go home. Only once upstairs in Grubers Department Store I recall a nice lady who worked there telling me to be real careful. I was checking all the room size rugs which hung on the wall, a great fascination for someone my age.

Her name was Edith Ryder and she always called me “Honey Girl.” Fifty some years later a cousin, who is a nurse, called me when we visited Marietta one summer and said Edith Ryder had asked about me. My cousin took me to see her, and she still called me “Honey Girl.” I’ll never forget her.

I’ll never forget the night Grubers Department Store burnt down. My husband and I heard the sirens and walked up front street to that alley. I watched a lot of childhood memories go with it, but I’ll never forget them ever.

Now, I’ve covered one side of the street up to the alley, but as the old saying goes “the grass is always greener” you know the rest I’m sure. On the other side starting at Green Street, I remember Glines Cleaners. Then the Dime Savings Bank and next to it Richards Drug Store.

Mr. Ed Richards owned it and he had a big soda fountain in there. One of my favorite fountain drinks was Cherry Smash. I used to call it “made by hand” because it came in a glass with ice instead of a bottle. My next favorite fountain drink was root beer. And for two or three years he gave me a “Free Root Beer.” Just one, mind you, and always in the springtime.

That was my favorite side of the street. The other side of the street was a “no-no” to me unless I asked Mom’s permission to get someone to take me across if she was too busy to do it. There was a streetcar track in the middle of the road and I might get hit by a streetcar or one of those big touring cars or a Model T Ford. It was my favorite side of the street because all the “goodies” I liked were there.

Getting back to the root beer.

One spring day, a year or two later, Mr. Richards hired a new boy behind the soda counter. They called them “soda jerks” back then, I guess. Anyhow, Mr. Richards told him to fix my “free root beer.” The glass was a lot bigger than usual and he smiled when I thanked him. I put a straw in the glass and took a big gulp. What happened next I’ll never forget because the taste in my mouth was not root beer!

Anyone my age who has had to take CASTOR OIL will know immediately what I’m talking about. Castor oil has a flavor all it’s own and once you taste it you will never forget it or never want to taste it again.

This story goes like this. Every spring, my mother went over and paid Mr. Richards for my “root beer.” Back then, castor oil was to rid your system of any germs you might have picked up during the winter. What finally caused this plan to fall through was because Mr. Richards forgot to tell the new soda jerk to mix it up. All the oil was in the bottom of the glass where I put the straw and the root beer was on top.

I don’t think I care to talk about this any longer. My mother was one smart lady, but today I still don’t like root beer.


*I’ve done some minor editing for the purposes of this blog, mostly sentence and paragraph structure and some word choice.

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Have you ever ate or drank something and got a surprise? Are you completely turned off a food because of a bad experience? Have you ever had to take castor oil?

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Remembering Grannie

I'm so proud to have been able to call her my Grannie.
I’m so proud to have been able to call her my Grannie.

Fannie Mae Goodman once owned her own tap dance school with her cousins Judy and Naomi. At first it was called the Goodman School of Dance until they changed it to FanJuNo. Years later, she taught my sister, cousin, and I basic tap steps, which shows how much patience she had for it because I was never any good. Because of Grannie, I have seen and loved almost every Shirley Temple movie.

She had a big heart and told some of the best stories. One of my favorites, oddly enough, was one I always seemed to forget. She reminded me of it every time I offered her a root beer:

When she was a girl, her mother use to send her down to the drugstore for her “spring tonic.” There was a soda fountain there and the soda jerk would prepare her a root beer with castor oil mixed in well so she couldn’t taste it. One year, there was a new soda jerk, and he failed to stir the castor oil…at all. Grannie stuck her straw to the bottom of the glass, where all the oil was, and got a big mouthful of it. She never wanted another root beer for the rest of her life.

Grannie passed away this past Saturday. She was going to celebrate her 90th birthday on November 29th of this year. We had planned a big shindig to surprise her. I was going to host Thanksgiving for the family the day before and every once in a while I’d get anxious about it because I’d be participating in NaNoWriMo too. But I’d remind myself, it was for Grannie and the stress would be totally worth it.

I would seriously rather feel the stress of those two days, than the sadness that aches me now.

Grannie was one of those wonderfully tenacious women who never failed to make you love her. Because she always loved performing in a show, I could compare her to classic beloved actresses like Maggie Smith or Julie Andrews. But Grannie was better because I was fortunate enough to know her personally. To me, she outshone any Hollywood star.

I could be completely selfish and upset that she died (well, I am anyway). But I know she was ready even if the rest of us were not. I think she seemed almost immortal because she was always ready to joke and laugh with us. But I also know she felt her age. She had tap danced all her life, up until about 7 years ago, when her balance failed her and she fell too many times. As she got older, she complained more and more about “Old Arthur” especially when she was crocheting (a hobby she passed down to me). It actually took me a while to figure out that Old Arthur was arthritis. She had such a young spirit, Old Arthur was just something that got in her way, but never really stopped her.

But God decided it was time for her to stop. It comforts me to know that she was content with His decision. It also reminds me that we can plan and plan as much as we want, but we must remember that in all things it is His Will that is done (Luke 12:13-21).