The following column was written by former BCR Sports Editor Dick Volker and was published in the International Coca-Cola Collectors magazine in Sept. 2022:
I enjoy Coca-Cola. Quite a few every day. Having been employed in sales management with the fountain sales department for over 40 years it is only natural that we have a four-drink fountain dispenser in out kitchen.
My life, Loretta, has created a Coke museum in our kitchen using many pieces of advertising of the past, many trays, a 2,000 piece Coke puzzle framed and hanging on the wall along with other ladies of the past who enticed people to purchase Coca-Cola.
Yes, we have vintage bottles and a myriad of advertising collected over my 40 years working the Chicago and downstate Illinois Areas. We certainly do have an urn as was first used to dispense the syrup.
But my most prized momento is a picture of Dick Portillo’s famous Dog House. In this trailer, which I call a ‘grab-joint’ is where Portillo launched his chain of 36 Portillo’s restaurants, plus other entities and three years ago sold out to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire-Hathaway organization which is rapidly expanding Portillo’s across America and recently went public on the stock market.
I was the first Coca-Cola representative to meet with Dick Portillo and finalize the deal for him to sell Coke products. Of course a modular Coca-Cola sign went across the top of the trailer advertising his hot dogs.
He was always loyal to our company and each time he opened another store in the Chicago area he would call me and say, “We’re going to be ready for equipment at another location I’m opening.”
Out small museum has been documented on television and many newspaper stories as well as having some of out items on display in an art gallery.
I have created a history of Coca-Cola dating back to its beginning as a syrup concocted by Dr. John Pemberton as a remedy for baby colic.
This history includes the creation of fountain Coke, franchise bottling, the various bottles created through the years, advertising, competitors in the early years, substitution, how Coke went international and my responsibilities with the company.
For the past seven years I have been marketing myself to present this history to retirement homes, public libraries, historical societies, park districts and chambers of commerce for a stipend.
Many retirement homes and libraries are looking for someone with a unique story to entertain their residents and patrons. My story is educational, nostalgia-filled, fun-filled and enjoyable to people of all ages.
I work the Chicago suburbs and north-central Illinois as well as going into the Davenport and Iowa City, Iowa markets.
After one program a man came up to me and thanked me for a fine presentation. He introduced himself and immediately I recognized the name. He owns 36 Burger King Restaurants. I had never met him before but saw his name across many invoices.
Another time a lady came up after the program and introduced herself. She was the widow of a famous Chicago White Sox pitcher.
I enjoy giving these presentations. They keep my mind working and I never know who I will run into.
Just remember, things go better with Coca-Cola. God bless you.
Dick Volker - Princeton