Monday, September 21, 2009

The Best Soda--With a Kick!

"Would you like to see Old Town Temecula?" was the question posed by my cousin Sandra.

As she described the character of this section of Temecula, we became more interested in taking a walk through the historic part of this city of 100,000+ about 25 miles south of Riverside, CA.

With Sandra driving, my aunt Margaret, Kate, and I had the opportunity to view on-going construction projects and new homes and shopping centers that surrounded the city.

It was clear we were approaching Old Town--traffic slowed to the pace of an old cow hand on Old Paint. And, it took two trips around the 10-block strip to find a parking spot.

Some of the buildings and shops may be quite old, but many have been built to look as though they were. The planked sidewalks added to the illusion of stepping back in time.

But when we approached this cactus and the nearby wagon with its broken wheel, we had the feeling we were among the huge number of travelers passing through Temecula on their way to the goldfields in 1848.

When we rounded the corner and entered the Old Time Root Beer Company, we journeyed forward about 110 years. It was 1958, and I was guzzling a bottle of Nesbitt's orange soda.

The store claims to have over 800 different kinds of soda, including over 80 different brands of root beer. I learned that Nehi orange is not available in the US any more (only in Canada) and that the original Moxie is very hard to come by. But there were plenty of other brands of hard-to-find sodas that were proudly displayed.

But then Kate found it. Not only the best ginger ale bottled, but arguably the best soda available. Blenheim Ginger Ale. But, it must be the #3, red-capped glass bottle, indicating it is the hot ginger ale. Yes, a hot ginger ale with a kick.

What a find! What a soda!

In the late 1800's Dr. C. R. May added Jamaican Ginger root to the mineral water near Blenheim, South Carolina for his patients with stomach problems. In 1903, Dr. May and A. J. Matheson opened the Blenheim Bottling Company.

Knowing that the 18 bottles would be savored over the next few weeks, we continued our walk. We headed past this row of mailboxes, some of which looked as though they had been around as long as some of the buildings.

This store owner added both whimsy and color to the store's door.

Walking past Rosa's produced thoughts of lunch, so we headed down the street for something a little different.

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