Have a Coke … and a handy tool?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2001

Where is that burr head boy?&uot; I remember the bellowing voice echoing off the walls of my grandparent’s house from the late afternoons of my early childhood.

This ritual is one of the few things I remember about my grandfather, Hinton Madison Carpenter, who passed away when I was 5 years old.

The routine went something like this. I would hear his car pull into the drive, and I would run and hide. He would come in the front door, and I guess my grandmother would give him some sort of tip that I was in the house somewhere. Then he’d start looking for me, yelling something along the lines of the above.

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The house was a vintage 1940s row house on the west side of Tuscaloosa, Ala.; probably around 800 square feet total. I wasn’t hard to find.

When he found me he would hoist me up in the air – way up in the air – dangle me upside down by my ankles, then sit down and hold me in his lap for a while.

My favorite afternoon was Friday. He worked at a local bottling plant and always brought home a case of those little 6-ounce bottles of Dr. Pepper at the end of the week.

I guess that’s when I became hooked on soft drinks. Despite my mother’s and grandmother’s &uot;they’ll rot your teeth out&uot; warnings, I’ve been drinking a couple a day ever since.

I’ve never thought much about whether my teeth would actually rot out, but I did receive an interesting e-mail message the other day relating to all the things a soft drink will do. The list refers specifically to &uot;Coke&uot; but I expect it holds true for most carbonated soft drinks.

Here are a few items from the list:

— In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk of the patrol car to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.

— You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.

— To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl. Let the &uot;real thing&uot; sit for one hour, then flush clean.

— The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.

— To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with crumpled-up Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.

— To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

— To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.

— To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for sumptuous brown gravy.

— To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.

According to the anonymous author of this list, the active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days.

Todd Carpenter is publisher of The Democrat. You can reach him by calling 446-5172, ext 218 or by e-mail at todd.carpenter@natchezdemocrat.com.