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This love affair will never fizzle out
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My Coca-Cola collection isn’t anything I would consider fantastic or even amusing, really, to anyone but myself.

During the past 25 years, I have accumulated a mix of novelties, collector’s items and just plain junk. For those who know me, the math involved here means I started my collection of sorts when I was 5.

Though I can’t say what is the source of my fascination, I can say that like a lot of folks, it has to do with nostalgia.

In 1984, my brother and I were in a youth bowling league — my parents owned the local bowling alley. We had sponsors and got to go on trips with the other kids to compete. At 4, that meant pushing the ball between my legs and trying not to gutter.

For all our efforts, we were rewarded with "official" Coca-Cola T-shirts. Mine was red with white lettering that read "Coke Is It!" My brother’s had the classic Coca-Cola logo.

I still have both shirts and can wear them on occasion. Yep. I’m a small person and at the time, it was a big ol’ shirt.

Spending my formative years in a bowling alley, I was surrounded by promotional items. Clocks, coasters, ash trays and even the lights that hung over the pool tables were emblazoned with Budweiser, Dr Pepper or Marlboro. I collected various brands, but it was always Coca-Cola that stood out among my menagerie.

Maybe it was the soda fountain, with an endless flow of bubbly goodness, or the cold and ready "co-colers" granny had waiting for us after school. Something stuck with me.

I still have the large digital Sprite wall clock that hung in the bowling alley and my granny’s metal Coca-Cola bottle opener she used to prep our refreshment. I also have a wood, metal and glass button thermometer that graced the walls of grandpa’s tinker shop. You just can’t find ’em like that anymore. Everything now is plastic.

Friends and family have given me items over the years, everything from glasses — I have a ton — to ceramic cookie jars and collector’s tins. Anytime my dad would wander through an antique store, he would inevitably find some knickknack.

I have a large wall unit, floor to ceiling, full of memorabilia. It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite piece. It could be the 1970’s tab-style pop can, or the glass 2-liter bottle. But I am partial to an amber-colored glass chalice I found in a little shop in London. I’ve never seen one like it elsewhere, but it reminds me of my trip.

In fact, almost every item reminds of a time, place or person that is near and dear to me. So I guess that’s why I hang on to the rulers and Frisbees, the pencils and canvas change bag the "Coke Man" left me after retrieving his coins from the machine.

I suppose everyone has something that acts as a memento of better times. For my older brother, it’s anything Pac-Man.

But for me, I’ll wrap up in my Coca-Cola throw, sit back on my Coca-Cola pillow and enjoy the fizz. I don’t think my love for all things Coke will ever go flat.

Michelle Boaen Jameson is the assistant Life editor at The Times.

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