One of the old boys asked in one of those southern drawls, us ‘Yankee’ boys could barely decipher, where I was headed. I told him I was in the Navy and heading back to the base in Gulfport. They all nodded their heads in approval. One smiled a toothless grin which made me feel a bit more at ease in this scenario that could have been taken from the movie, Deliverance.
The attendant came back in and I asked if there was anything I could do to clean the bug slime from my windshield. They all looked at me like I was some sort of ignorant alien.
The biggest, ugliest of them all, the one with the toothless grin said, “Son, get yourself a bottle of dope and run your wipers. Then pour that dope on and it’ll clean ’er right up. Works every time.” Everyone nodded in agreement.
Dope? What is dope? I thought. The look of ignorance on my face must have been obvious because he added, “Coke Son, get a bottle of that Coke outa that chest over there. It’ll clean that windshield right up proper.”
One of the others added, “Best darn cleaner you can find. So do you want a little of this corn likker, young feller?” he said, offering me the jar.
“Thanks, but I’ve been driving since five this morning and I have to be back for muster tomorrow so I better not.”
“Awe, come on Son, just a nip. Do ya good for those last miles. Have one for god and country. You’re servin’ your country for us and we want to show ya a little appreciation.”
I didn’t want to insult these folks and was afraid if I refused I would so I nodded and bought two bottles of Coke, one for the windshield and one to have a nip of their shine. They all smiled their approval after I took a pull from my coke and offered it to be topped off. The man smiled up at me and filled my bottle. I thanked them, said good-bye, walked out the door swigging on my coke and shine. It was really good. I started the wipers and poured the other bottle on the windshield. It worked. The glass became crystal clear.
I got in my car and headed down the road with a clear windshield. The rain had stopped, the coke and shine perked me up. As I drank I thought about how well the coke cleaned the windshield and considered what that must do to a person’s stomach. I arrived back at the base safe and sound in good time for a needed sleep before 6:00 reveille.
I learned later that, originally, Coca Cola was laced with cocaine and in the deep south, folks still called it dope despite the fact cocaine had been illegal for years and was not used in the drink any more.
However, experiencing how well Coke would clean a windshield of bugs like it did, I never drank another coke again.