1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



 Water: A limpid, tasteless, odorless
liquid compound of hydrogen and oxygen.
Dan Duff

When I was growing up in West Virginia, I was acutely aware of the costs of things. Coming from abject poverty I was always on the lookout for ways to make a dime. A dime would buy me lunch which consisted of an RC and a Moon Pie. RC’s at that time were 5 cents and so were the Moon Pies. Then one day I walked into “The Snack Shack” and was told in short language that “pop” as we called it, had gone to 7 cents. Immediately there was an explosion in my brain. “Holy cow”, I said to myself. “Now I have to find a way to get another two cents or I have to make the choice of the RC or the Moon Pie.” On those days when I was more hungry than thirsty. I would buy a moon pie and ask for a glass of water. In those days water was always free and no one in their right mind would have thought of asking someone to pay for it.

Then came the French. I am sure there was a conversation over some cheese and wine that the subject came around to stupid Americans and their having too much money and would buy anything you put in front of them. After the caffaws and snickers died down a bit one of the people said “Oh yes, those stupid people would buy water if you put a fancy label on the bottle.” A light bulb went on and “Perrier” was born. For a long time it was a status symbol to order it in restaurants and bars. Of course, then some enterprising stupid American said, “Why pay to import bottled water. We can provide the same thing here and undersell them by the price of importing.” Thus, time went by and others jumped on the water wagon so to speak and today we have bottled water companies in every state. Most of the bottled water we get today is not “spring water”, as most of the earlier companies advertised. Most of today’s bottle water is just tap water run through additional charcoal filters.

The prices of “pop” has gone up severely since those days in the early 50’s and of course the cost of the bottles of water has gone up too. Last week I had my grandson over to help me with a little project around the house and on the way back to his house, he asked for a bottle of water at a gas station. I handed him 50 cents and sent him inside. He came back and informed me that the water was $1.19. Again, as my brain did in the early 50’s, it exploded. I cannot understand how they can charge $1.19 for eight ounces of water and advertise two boxes or 24 cans of 12 ounces Pepsi Cola for $4. The ride to my daughters house was quiet, I did tell my grandson that I was in no way upset with him. He was anxious to get away from his Papaw before the explosion took place and I understood his plight.

Upon returning home I got out my calculator and started doing some figuring, but first I had to do some investigating. While the retail cost of the water was 14.5 cents per ounce. The Pepsi Cola came out to a little over 1 cent per ounce. What is worse the water came out to $9.52 a gallon. So maybe $1.61 for a gallon of 87 octane for the car is not such a bad deal after all. I took a bottle of water and a can of Pepsi and compared the contents. I wanted to see just what the water had in it that made it so expensive. The bottle said it contained water. Nothing else, just water. I looked at the Pepsi can; Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, caramel flavoring and on and on. So how can Pepsi put all this stuff in a can and sell it cheaper than water? Is this one of those mysteries that will not be solved in my lifetime? Is this one of those things that made Enron want to re-cook the books because of all the money being made off water? I must admit that every jogger these days carries a bottle of water. I have yet to see anyone carry a can of Pepsi while they were running. I have thought of giving this business a try myself. Of course, I won’t have any trucks or fancy labels on the bottles. I think I will put it up in old fruit jars and sell it out of the back of the car. Much like most moonshiners did back in the thirties. What do you suppose those moonshiners would think if they found out stupid Americans will pay $9.52 a gallon for water in a bottle?