The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


November 11, 2013

Vintage soda fountain is centerpiece of Joplin man's Coca-Cola collection

JOPLIN, Mo. — Descending the stairs into the basement of Dave Mason's home, the memorabilia begins to take over the walls. Vintage signs and advertisements abound as he leads the way to what he calls the "pride and joy" of his collection: a working soda fountain that looks like it was transplanted directly from the 1950s into the back room.

There's no question that when it comes to collecting, for Mason, Coke is it.

"I've been collecting for about 30 years, one piece at a time," the Joplin man said.

Much of what fueled his interest in Coke-related items was a sense of nostalgia for days gone by.

"I can remember going to church and after, we'd go to Willy Secrest's (soda fountain) over there in Pittsburg and get us a Cherry Coke," Mason said. "We used to put peanuts in the Coke. That was a treat."

The first piece he ever purchased was a vintage Coca-Cola tray featuring a menu girl and the slogan "Thirst knows no season." He found it while on a trip to Branson and liked the artistic way the company had chosen to advertise itself.

Today, it hangs on the wall of Mason's soda fountain, the first of nearly 500 pieces he has acquired over the past three decades.

"Coke really knew how to advertise well," said Mason, pointing out signs, clocks, glasses and numerous other items that filled the room. "I'm always looking for the piece I don't have. I haven't sold a piece in my life. I've always bought, although I've traded up a couple of times for better pieces.

"Most of the pieces in this room are from the '40s. They're things that were sent out to drug stores, grocery stores and gas stations. Most of them never got out into the weather, so they're in pristine condition. For 30 years I've been going to flea markets, garage sales and auctions (to find them)."

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