You must be an old timer if you can remember Trona’s Coke machines. I don’t know why but the seemed to attach young boys like like a magnet. There was something magical about a machine that could dispense such a wonderful product. I still remember what it sounds like when it was dropping into the opening. The fact that it was a machine and that we were boy probably had a lot to do with the magic.
I still remember the taste of my first six ounce vending machine Coke in a glass bottle. Today’s Cokes and Pepis don’t even come close. The machines kept the Cokes super cold and on a hot day there wasn’t anything better to cool you down. The fact that my mother forbid us from drinking Coke made it taste even better.
Each bunkhouse had at least one Coke machine and some had two or more. A nickel doesn’t sound like much today but in the fifties coming up with a nickel wasn’t easy for a young boy. The word hacker didn’t exist back then but Coke machine hackers sure did. Some of us tried slugs but the machines had magnets and gaps that deflected iron slugs and coins that were too heavy or light so if anyone did get a slug to work it was exceptional luck.
Probably the best hack I’ve heard was waiting around a machine and then complaining to the first adult that came by that the machine ate your nickel and didn’t dispense a coke. I don’t think I ever did this but someone who did told me that it worked every time.
There was one daring young man that I know that learned he could stick his hand up the opening, tug on the bottle a little and out it would come. One day he did this and about 15 bottles came out at one time. Most of them broke when they hit the floor and most of the kids that were watching immediately scattered.
Since the machines had moving parts there was a risk of losing a finger or maybe a hand but no one ever got hurt by doing this that I know of. I’ll confess that every once in awhile this is the way I got my forbidden cokes.
Eventually they changed the machines to a different style that made it impossible to pull a Coke out without paying but there were hacks that worked with limited success on these too.
When you think about it being able to deliver a bottle of Coke for a nickel in a bottle that was washed and recycled came pretty close to being magic.