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coca cola

US Odyssey Part 2: Vintage toys

We departed Florence, but didn’t really get too much farther before the roadside attractions started to get the better of us.

Our first stop was for a tiny highway-side sign that said ‘antiques’. Could be tacky, could be neat. We’ll stop anyway, and see how our curiosity treats us. A few miles down a residential street, we find it. Wow. It’s essentially a warehouse filled with vintage toys and other antiques. It had everything from vintage tin toy cars (the size of young children!) to comic books, memorabilia from Star Wars and more. Turns out they’re actually the largest vintage toy store in the entire country! Had we seen that on the sign, we wouldn’t have even hesitated on dropping in.

Not only did they have cool vintage toys, but there was a back section that was operated by the Fall City Live Steamers, a model train enthusiast group that has live demonstrations every Sunday. Luckily someone was there doing some repairs to the trains, so Shannon got some cool photos, and I was in childhood heaven, as I had always wanted to be a train conductor when I was growing up.

Fall City Live Steamers - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)
Vintage toy doll that Shannon bought

A little farther down the interstate, we came across a Coca Cola museum, and with Shannon’s obsession with vintage signs and pop, this was a must stop. Turns out it was a museum based on the private collection of one of the original Coca Cola bottling families (every other region had a ‘bottling family’), so it was pretty extensive and informative. I watched a video that described how they came up with the patented Coca Cola bottle shape (it was a contest, and the winner mistook Coca for Cocoa, and based the bottle design around the shape of a cocoa pod), which was also a big thing for their advertising because it ‘felt different’ than the other bottles when reaching into a cool box. When we left, we could even buy a sample of pop for a nickel. Cute!

Coca Cola museum - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

It was after nightfall when we arrived in Memphis, but we had to pay homage to the King, so we stood at the entrance of Graceland and snapped a few pics. It’s not visible, but I thought it was funny that people had engraved “I love you Michael Jackson” on the wall of Elvis Presley’s family estate. That, and people working the gas station next store had very few answers regarding where Graceland was, despite literally working beside it.

Graceland by night - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

We slept in Little Rock, Arkansas that night, at a motel where every other car had a smashed window with a bag taped to it. Please, please, please don’t break into my car. Again.