A Taste of the Past

Some things just reach out and grab you and send you head first, full speed into a time and place deep in the back of your mind.  They summon up a memory so strong you feel as though you are right back there in the middle of it!  It happens to me all the time – even more so now that I’ve moved back home.  This week, I have enjoyed a strong memory associated with something I bought at the grocery store!

I was in the soda aisle (ooppss – there’s my Sanford side showing a little — I mean, I was in the “pop” aisle) in Tops looking for some root beer to get with my groceries.  I like getting the glass bottle kind – usually Stewarts or one of those type of brands.  I noticed a local brand I hadn’t seen before – Saranac.  It is made by the brewery in Utica, NY.  I used to love going to the Utica Club brewery, which I understand is now known as the Saranac Brewery.  It always made a nice day trip to tour the brewery, smell the wonderful aroma of fermenters full of beer being created, and ending the tour with a big, frosty mug of beer in the old-time saloon on a hot summer day.  So, I decided to try that brand of root beer this week.  When I bent down to grab a six-pack of the root beer, I noticed another flavor called “Shirley Temple”!  It had a pretty pink label with the name “Shirley Temple” and some cherries on it and it was filled with a dark pink – almost red – liquid inside.  It instantly took me back to my childhood – not to memories of Shirley Temple movies, but to memories of a wonderful drink I used to LOVE as a child!

These memories take me to the historic Village Inn restaurant.  I have a lot of fond memories of the Village Inn.  It has a strong historic presence that started in the early 1800’s as an old stage-coach stop along the historic Ridge Road just a little north of Albion in Child’s, NY.  My Mom worked there for several years as a waitress when we were little – just one of the multiple jobs she held as a single mother trying to make ends meet with two small children.  My brother also worked there as a busboy when he was in high school.  And, it was the restaurant I chose to hold my wedding reception at after the ceremony, which was held at the historic Cobblestone Church just across the street from the Village Inn.  We would go to the Village Inn often – the Tillman’s were such nice people!  But, the memory that the pretty pink pop summoned up was of a drink that Mr. Tillman would make for me!  It was called a “Shirley Temple” and looked like a real adult cocktail — it was actually a “kiddie cocktail” served in a cocktail glass with 7-Up, a little grenadine, a maraschino cherry on a cocktail stick, and a swizzle stick that I could sip the drink through like a little miniature straw!  Oo-la-la!  It made me feel special and grown up!  I found out later in life that most bars made them for kids, but at the time, I was convinced that Mr. Tillman only made them especially for me!!!!  I would get all excited when I went, wondering if Mr. Tillman would make me a Shirley Temple!  And they tasted so good!!!  I’ve tried Cherry 7-Up and it just isn’t the same — Mr. Tillman’s Shirley Temples were so much better tasting and full of sweet cherry taste!  Nothing compares!

So, when I saw the Shirley Temple pop in the grocery store, I just had to get some!  I bought a six-pack and put them in the fridge to get them nice and cold.  I looked for something to drink when I was reading today and decided to give one a try.  It did not disappoint!!!!  I was a little worried when I took the first swig from the bottle – it was a touch on the tart side.  But, after another swig, my taste buds adjusted and it was so very good – a little too sweet to drink very often, but quite tasty!  ALMOST – not quite – as good as those wonderful kiddie cocktails that Mr. Tillman made for me all those years ago.  I should pour it out into a cocktail glass, add a maraschino cherry and a swizzle stick, and connect more directly with the memory!

What fun a drink and a memory can be!  Oh, and the Saranac Root Beer is pretty darned good, too!

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