Friday, May 09, 2008

Craving a Dime Lime

Nowadays when you want a limeade, you head to Sonic. Back in the 1960s in Smiley, you headed to Rhodes' Drug Store on main street. They had an old-fashioned soda counter where they mixed the limeade by hand. A small limeade (about 8 oz.) was a nickel. A large limeade (about 12 oz.) was a dime.

I don't know how I discovered their wonderful limeades, but once I did I enjoyed them regularly. Oddly enough I did not know what to call them. I just ordered a "dime lime" and Mayme would mix one for me in a tall glass. I would sit at the counter, drinking my limeade and listening to the ever-present group of local men who would meet there for coffee and conversation.

Most of the time I was with Daddy and he would sit and talk for a long time, so after I finished my limeade I would wander over to the magazine rack at the front window and leaf through the movie magazines. If I got too bored, I could always walk the 3-4 blocks home, but I loved those movie magazines and listening to the grownups talk. Mayme probably wouldn't have let many kids stand and read unpurchased magazines, but she adored Daddy and didn't chase me away.

The Drug Store was the social center for that little town. Everybody went to the drug store regularly, not only for prescriptions, but for anything in the non-grocery line that you couldn't find at Manford's Grocery at the other end of the block. The interior was full of antique counters, antique glassware, antique shelving and antique merchandise that had sat unsold on the shelves for a generation or two. There was a collection of antique bottles with antique medicines on display in the back.

But it was also a place where you could get stationary and cosmetics and jewelry and, of course, reading material and finish up with a triple-decker ice cream cone or a dime lime. It was a wonderful place.

We held fund-raising bake sales inside the Drug Store on Saturdays when raising money for our class trips. The tables would pile high with cakes, cookies and pies and everyone would come in early to get the biggest choice. One time Mr. Sample grabbed my apple pie before I had even reached the display table. (See, even then people knew I make great apple pie.)

There was one day when we were in Nixon for some reason and stopped in at their drug store for a drink before heading home. I had no idea how to ask for my limeade. I asked if they had a lime "coke" and they assured me they did. I got a Coke with lime in it, which actually tasted great and I still drink them that way to this day, but it wasn't the same as the handmade limeade at Rhodes'. It was a special treat I only enjoyed there. (It was a long time later that Sonic came on the scene.)

Rhodes' Drug Store is no more. Vic and Mayme grew old and retired. The building stayed shut up for awhile. Somewhere along the line all those antique store furnishings were removed, I assume sold. The building sits empty and unused. Many of the men who gathered there every morning to swap yarns have died. I don't think there is a daily gathering place for coffee in Smiley any more. If you want magazines, you probably have to drive over to Gonzales. That's the nearest place you can find a Sonic with limeade, too.

I wish I could go back and stroll into that drug store and order a dime lime from Mayme again. I hope that somewhere up in heaven she's still manning that soda counter and riding herd on a group of men who are drinking coffee and telling tall tales. If she is, I'm betting Daddy is right there with the Monday morning quarterback club. They were a great bunch of folks.

There will never be another place like Rhodes' Drug Store. The picture below is of the interior of the drug store before the Rhodes' tenure, sent to me by a descendant of one of the men in the photo. The furnishings are the ones I knew. In my china closet are two pressed glass candy dishes that were given to my mother by Vic out of one of those cases on the right. My own little piece of Rhodes' Drug Store. I would trade them for one of those dime limes. But only if Mayme herself made it.



Who else said...

I preferred the cherry-limeade myself. But now and then I'd get just a limeade neat. When they used to babysit me I'd eat whatever they had around for lunch, which wasn't much, but to this day I think a vanilla milkshake and a bag of Morton's BBQ potato chips would be a real treat. She made pretty good grilled cheese sandwiches too. I remember all those cattlemen drank their coffee from the saucer...pour a little in the saucer and then sip from it. Every one of them drank coffee that way. I can close my eyes and walk through that whole place and see the details, like the never-purchased cattleprods over the back door.

R GING said...

Hey cousin, that's the way Mo Mo Hodge drank her coffee.