Coca-Cola rulers real thrill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Three words, “Coca-Cola ruler,” opened a box that was stored deep in my brain. It was something I hadn’t thought of in years, but reading those words brought a flood of memories. Amazing really how seeing it in writing sent me back in time.

In a flash, I sat in second grade listening as Miss Piece told us she was about to give us something wonderful. The gifts came from the Coca-Cola Company and it was exciting when they arrived every year.

The teacher passed out each item. First, came the #2 pencils ready for sharpening and sporting unworn erasers. I rolled them around in my hands reading the Coca-Cola name.

Some years sharpeners and writing pads accompanied the pencils. And sometimes we got book covers, too. I loved the newness of the lined pads and the crisp feel of the cover as I carefully wrapped it around a worn spelling book.

Of course, the best item and the one we got almost every year was the prized wooden ruler. The company name and logo were on one side. Printed on the opposite side were the words, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You.” Thus, it became the Golden Rule Ruler.

Such common things – a pad, some pencils and a ruler – but I remember feeling rich as I lined them up on my desk. It was the bestowing of unexpected treasures that made the moment special.

I know others share this experience because the ruler posting on Facebook got responses. Most said the same thing, “I hadn’t thought of that in years.” And I’m betting people smiled as they typed the sentence.

That brought up other thoughts of things that gave me such pleasure when I was growing up.

There was the treat of a shack lunch instead of the regular hot meal at school. On rare occasions, we even ate that lunch outside under the big oaks on the playground. A peanut butter sandwich and an apple washed down with a cold carton of milk never tasted so good.

Then there were the assemblies when we got out of class to watch other kids perform in a play saluting vegetables or telling the story of Alabama’s Indians. Of course, the real thrill was a Southern Assembly. You paid to attend them usually 25 or 50 cents, lots of money back when.

Sometimes the show featured a magician who performed an amazing feat like making a rabbit appear from nowhere. Other times it was a clown making us laugh at his silliness as he pulled yards of scarves or a bunch of flowers from his sleeve. And even if you didn’t have 50 cents to attend the show, you got to stay in an almost deserted classroom and color or read which was much better than doing math any day.

Isn’t it interesting how joy came wrapped up in simple experiences when we were children? It didn’t take much to excite us and to give us a feeling of specialness.

Perhaps that is what we lose and what we miss the most as we get older. A bunch of pencils and a clean writing pad don’t seem as wonderful, and it takes more than a clown with scarves up his sleeve to make us laugh.

Maybe that is what we need most right now, to find joy in the simple things, to delight again in eating a shack lunch under a sprawling oak tree enjoying every bite of a juicy apple.

And if we all had one of those Golden Rule Rulers to remind us how we should treat each other, the world might be a much better place.