Friday, July 22, 2011

My Newest Old Favorite Thing

The vending machines at work now sell Fresca. I hadn’t seen Fresca for years and years, so I thought I would give it a try. Crisp, refreshing citrus sensations, and zero calories. I took one sip and was immediately transported back in time to 1974.

I was ten years old. Five friends and I sat in the top floor of our incredible five story fort, eating Jiffy Pop popcorn and passing around a couple of cans of Fresca. The fort was less than a week old. All the neighborhood boys had worked on it together and each floor was designated for different groups of boys based on social status, determined by our age to forehead size ratio.

John and Danny were on the first floor. Richard was on the second floor. Tom and I were on the third floor.

None of us were permitted on the top floor. But the older boys were away, so there we were, deviously crowded into the enclosed box, high off the ground, enjoying a can of Fresca, and laughing about Planet of the Apes and Wacky Packages. The room was large enough for five small boys to sit, but too small to stand up or wiggle around very much. We were definitely wiggling.


Suddenly, the top two floors toppled off the fort, did a summersault, and stopped with a thud. We all screamed. We were now sideways, twisted up around one another, and Tom asked, “Is everyone okay?”

I was lying by the door and looked outside. I was startled by what I saw. “Uh, guys, nobody move,” I warned.

But it was too late. The tree branch we had landed on broke with a snap and we dropped like a rock another five feet, smashing onto the hard ground. The wood around us splintered and split into all kinds of jagged fragments. Nails jutted out around our heads. Dust filled the air and we coughed and choked as we emerged from the mess. Mrs. Wray came running out of her house screaming. But somehow, none of us were injured, although I remember my legs felt like rubber bands.

And I was covered in Fresca.

So, now, anytime I want to relive the perils of my childhood, I can wander down to the vending machines and buy a Fresca, which now comes in peach and black cherry flavors as well. The new flavors are quite tasty, but they don’t invoke the same vivid memories as the original.


Maude Findlay said...

OMG, Fresca! Makes me want to go hang out over at Brenda Morganstern's apartment, and listen to Barry Manilow music... on vinyl!

Anonymous said...

But Tab's got sass!!!

heydave said...

Dude, those warm Fresca trips can be bad news.

BaHa said...

Never without Fresca in the fridge. In addition to its delicious nostalgic charm, it make a fine drink with vodka and a squeeze of lime.
Its comeback is largely attributed to an episode of the Sopranos, during which that tastemaker Paulie Walnuts said, "Gimme a Fresca."

Steven W. said...

Fresca is what my Grandmother considered appropriate Soda for me as a young 'un. I remember it's refreshing taste going down and it's rat killing saccharine aftertaste.

Poor man's Squirt, which remains to this day, my quintessential carbonated beverage fave.

My guess is, Mary has a case of Fresca & Tab on hand to wash down Salmon Squares by the pool.

My verification word was "laneshne" the Dakota god of tonic (as we called soda back in the day down east)

kathyo said...

I started drinking Fresca when it was introduced in 1966, and am glad to learn I'm not the only one with a sentimental attachment to it! The grapefruit flavor, though, was what made it unique; I see they're now calling it "citrus." To me that says lemon-lime.

I also miss 7-Up in the glass bottles with the bathing suit lady. 7-Up always tasted better in glass bottles.

Oh, and I remember all the words to the RC Cola jingle in the 1967 commercials with stars like Nancy Sinatra and Dino Martin.

Guess the only thing that hasn't changed since the 1960s is Mary Worth.

Vicki said...

That's quite a story, Wanders! It's a miracle none of you boys were hurt!

I don't have any Fresca memories, but one time my older brother poured an entire bottle of Coke on a girl bully's head! He warned her, "don't you EVER bother my sister again".

(Although she was a year younger than me, this girl constantly terrorized me.) After my brother did this, however, she ran home crying and never did bother me again!!! My brother, my hero!

...and that's why I'm forever a [Diet] Coke fan!

djangosmom said...

I drank Mountain Dew, when it was "yahoo Mountain Dew!"

and sometimes "Yoohoo" that chocolate pop.

Obtuse Engle said...

I just discovered your blog, and I think it's very entertaining. This is a little out of order, but I just saw the story of your hike. If you feel like giving the AT another chance, let me recommend a stretch through the Smokies National Park. Start at Clingman's Dome and head south to Fontana Dam. That's "downhill", relatively speaking, but it is a very challenging hike, about 35 miles. My niece and I did it in 3 days and 2 nights, but if I did it again, I'd take 4 days and 3 nights. Beautiful views including hiking over the famous Rocky Top from the song of the same name.

Brick said...

The summer of my 12th year, my family rented a cabin in Lake Arrowhead. I remember blue-jays and peanuts, barbecued burgers, and the album 'Close To You' by The Carpenters. My 16-year-old sister was allowed her own six-pack of Fresca. The rest of us, myself and 5 other siblings, were given Shasta (grape, orange or root beer). She lay tanning at the end of the boat dock, and I, her closest sister, approached. We discussed calories, tans and bathing suits. Without appearing too eager, I asked her for a sip. Nothing will ever taste as good! Fresca, a carbonated, artificially sweetened forbidden fruit nectar! It will always represent for me the promise of sixteen.

pandagrandma said...

I've always loved Fresca! I'm surprised that you didn't know it is still available in most grocery stores & WalMart. I have to agree w/ Steven W. that Squirt, however, is my fav. Now finding sugar-free Squirt is more of a challenge, but it's out there!

Dave in Parma said...

Wanders--everytime I go to my in-laws for a party, they have Fresca in a cooler. I have no idea where they get it. Hopefully not 1974.

Dave in Parma said...

And Steven W.--I have Squirt in my fridge, although I'm more partial to 50-50 by Cotton Club bottling.

Steven W. said...

Fellow Squirt's unavailable her in the northeast. About every 4 years it's reintroduced, sticks around for a month or 2 and then POOF Gone again.

I can always find it west of the Mississippi though. SIGH

Peggy Olson said...

I love Peach Fresca but, alas, it's seldom stocked in our stores.

Wanders, your story reminded me of the time that the neighborhood kids discovered a rusty old tricycle with an attached wagon. We brilliantly thought it would give us all a great ride down the steep alley behind our house. Of course, we didn't test the brakes beforehand. (Why would we? What could go wrong?)

Six of us jumped on, with my sister in the driver's seat -- and quickly careened out of control. I think we made it only halfway down before tumbling into a heap of scraped knees, bloody noses, and my sister's broken glasses.

Just like in your adventure, it was amazing that we didn't get seriously hurt (or race into traffic).

Thanks for bringing back that silly, wonderful memory. (Now, I think I'll go out for a cold Fresca.)

Anonymous said...

Oooooh, Fresca! I am a faithful Tab drinker (several cans a day) and have lost count of the number of times people have said, "I didn't know they made Tab anymore!"

I've recently become a diet Sierra Mist drinker, but I think I am going to try Fresca again if I can find it. Bring back some childhood memories!

--Beagle Vet

Potato Queen and Mulch Boy said...

Wacky Packages!!! The pinnacle of childhood humor. SO super cool!

Also, loved that Fresca back when i was just a princess. Fresca seemed so adult--ooo-la-la!

In college, my Tab-addicted friend and I used to debate what Tab flavor really was.