Every spring break when I was a kid we’d drive from Syracuse all the way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I enjoy long drives now but as a kid in the 80’s, 15 hour car trips had limited entertainment options.
Cassettes on my Walkman until the batteries started to wear out. A handful of library books and a copy of Circus magazine. We’d be looking for Pedro billboards advertising South of the Border on I-95. We’d stop for gas in Virginia and I’d get to buy a grape Nehi soda that required a bottle opener. And as the hours wore on we’d look forward to a picnic lunch at the North Carolina Welcome Center rest area. You don’t see those picnic tables in use very often anymore but back in the day, families were all over those. Mom would set out sandwiches and this pump cooler jug.
A lot of families had one back then. It was a fixture at picnics and potlucks. Put your finger on the hole in the lid and pump drink into your cup. It was even insulated!
Not sure why these stopped being popular. Something more trendy came along I guess. But with road trips and traveling for kid’s activities we were doing more picnicking, and I decided I wanted one. The only ones I could find were used on eBay. My folks had moved several times since my childhood so our old one was long gone. But they surprised me on my birthday that year with a brand new one - never used, still in its original box with the Kmart price sticker still attached.
Now it goes with us on all type of trips. And when we pull it out at tailgates, it’s a big time conversation starter. Everyone remembers them. Most people I encounter around my age had one. This one works great and I love the fact that I have connected something from my childhood with my kids.
We’re not making Nestea powder in it though like my mom did. No self respecting southerner can do that. Real brewed sweet tea now.
How about you? You have one of these jugs? Any good road area picnic memories? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter (@dryfins)