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  • Writer's pictureTonya Penrose

For Love of the Big Dip

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

The day was Alabama warm as Jimmy’s Ice Cream truck rolled slowly down my street playing a familiar children’s song meant to lure us outdoors with our allowance money. Lacking the thirty-five cents, I’d not enjoyed my favorite malted confection named “The Big Dip” on Jimmy’s first run that morning. I vowed silently to do something that day to change my fortune before Jimmy’s afternoon return.

Anxious, I glanced around my room and spied the cherry red soda fountain still unused from last Christmas. An idea sprang to mind, and I quickly gathered the supplies I needed. Minutes later I sat on my front lawn with a fountain full of tasty drinks, and a sign stating what a dime would buy. I easily ignored Bessie, our maid, whose raised eyebrow always seemed to be directed at me from the kitchen window.

In no time, I had quite a few coins from my neighborhood friends lining the bottom of my King Albert Cigar box. I was savoring my new-found ability to sell and make money, when Mike and Susan approached looking hot and flushed from a bicycle race. They were thirsty and begging for free samples. Right behind them came some younger boys wanting me to demonstrate the fountain’s abilities.

My sales were taking a downward direction. Exasperated with this group standing before me, I said in my most business-like voice, “For a dime you get a drink and a demonstration.” Those without the necessary coins turned away, but I knew they would return. The fountain had lure.

It was Mike who appeared first dangling some shimmering blue beads for my consideration. The cup of pink lemonade and beads were quickly exchanged. My snazzy new beads joined the coins in the box. Fortune was indeed smiling. Word spread quickly that I was now accepting baubles in lieu of cash.

The heated afternoon arrived signaling the close of my business day. I was admiring my vast inventory of colorful baubles when Lydia’s mom stopped by the stand. I am pleased to say Mrs. Jensen immediately recognized and acknowledged my business acumen. Unfortunately, she also recognized and acknowledged her favorite gold star earrings shining up at her from my King Albert box. It wasn’t long before other mothers appeared and began rummaging through my treasures, exclaiming to each other about their precious items and thieving children.

Once the mothers disappeared taking their anger, things settled down enough for me to peer into my box. I dreaded finding what pittance my hours of labor had left me. My spirit buoyed as I counted three dollars and forty-five cents as mine.

Off in the distance, I heard the first few bars of a familiar tune and grabbed two quarters. I ran toward the street corner wanting to be the first in line for the Big Dip. Today, Jimmy could keep the change. Making money was easy, but acquiring jewelry needed a little more refining. I resolved to leave that for another day.

It would be twenty years before I opened my first jewelry store. All thanks to the kids from my neighborhood on the day it was Alabama warm.

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