It was a sultry late summer day, circa 1987, and we were weekend rebels who got good grades.
We’d spent the afternoon at a “Lost Boys” matinee, and were feeling giddy and a little sad about returning to a world not inhabited by sexy vampires.
It was too early to go home. But the arcade was full of your little brother’s friends, and football practice just let out so Dairy Queen was packed.
What’s the one place no one will bug us? you asked, and we both responded at the same time: The library! (Jinx, you owe me a Coke.)
“You bring the Hamm’s,” you said, “and I’ll grab the Godzilla Heads.”
“Yeah, so our breath doesn’t smell like beer. Duh.”
Too bad our adventure was cut short, after just one can. Who knew parents liked to hang out at libraries, too?!
And that’s how it might have happened.
Last week, staff at the pandemic-shuttered Walla Walla Public Library in Washington state were rearranging the space when a worker dismantling old shelving in the mystery section found the relics of a hastily abandoned good time.
“Along with the usual dust and dead bugs, he found five unopened cans of ‘the beer refreshing’ and some monstrously stale gum still in its vibrant packaging, along with a moldering paper bag,” said the city of Walla Walla, in an Aug. 12 Facebook post. “Someone had apparently taken a cue from ‘Treasure Island’ and stashed their booty behind the shelving, but then wasn’t able to retrieve it.”
With some lightning-fast 2020-style research, the library was able to date the cache to the late 1980s, when snack aisles boasted fruit punch-flavored treats shaped like Godzilla heads and beer cans lacked a warning label, which became law in late 1988.
After decades forgotten, the artifacts briefly created national buzz and then were relocated to the city landfill (presumably without being taste-tested), a sad ending that, the city conceded, was “probably not the outcome the trove owner expected.”
The mystery, however, remains.
Especially, why the gum?