Monday, April 20, 2020

Summer Job at the Coke Plant

In the summer of the year of Our Lord 1975, I was home from my first year of college.  I was one of several high-school acquaintances and compatriots to get a job at “the Coke plant,” as we called it, on Highway 75 in Bartlesville.  It was actually called “the Oklahoma Beverage Company.”

            This was in the days of returnable glass bottles.  That meant that before the bottles could be filled, they had to be sorted, washed, and inspected—then inspected once more.

            Along with fellow Spartan John Walter, I worked swing shift, 3-11PM. The process worked like this:
·         The empty glass bottles, in wooden 24-bottle crates, would arrive stacked on a wooden pallet
·         We would pull the bottles by hand from the wooden cases to make sure only the specified type of bottle would go onto the washer conveyer belt.  (They were supposed to be already sorted by other poor schmucks.)
·         We set the bottles onto the wide conveyor belt.
·         The bottles were funneled into a single row about twenty across, where each row was lifted onto a big wheel
·         The bottles were tipped mouth first into holes in the wheel
·         Water and soap, etc blasted the bottles and washed them out
·         The bottles arrived on the other side, nice and clean
·         A conveyor belt lined them up single file, where they passed in front of a human inspector
·         The inspector removed defective bottles and allowed clean ones to pass
·         The bottles were filled and a separate machine capped them

            Here are some bottles culled before washing:
            A 10-oz Coke bottle perfect in every way, except for no labelling!  It missed being painted at the factory.
            What’s wrong with these?  Why, they were intended for the Canadian market!  Note the French language on these All-American bottles.  We couldn't fill them and sell them in Oklahoma, oh no!

           Another ex-classmate, Karen Thomas, was the bottle inspector.  I am happy to reveal that, out of tens of thousands of bottles which passed her gaze that summer, she only missed a couple!
            Yes, this Mr Pibb bottle got filled and capped even though it had no painted-on labeling.

            And the pièce de résistance of my little collection is this jewel.  Yes, it was sorted (by we poor bottle sorters), washed, filled, inspected, and capped ... with a CornNuts wrapper inside!
YES, my friends, these bottles were photographed in April, 2020.  I still have 'em!

            Some other time we’ll cover some other treasures from the Coke plant. 
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© by Mark Alfred