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Tottenville History

Tottenville Memories (Part 2)

Hadkins Beverage Company
Last week‘s post about the si350 program at the Tottenville Library introduced some of the history of Hadkins Beverage Company.  Now I would like to expand on that introduction.
In its time, Hadkins Beverage was the oldest soda business on the east coast, and was actively involved in the Tottenville community.
In 1918 the TA Gillespie Company, located in Morgan, (now Sayreville) New Jersey, made ammunition during World War I.  The explosion at the Morgan Shell Loading Plant, which caused shattered windows and flying debris into Tottenville, destroyed and damaged homes in New Jersey leaving 6,000 people homeless and 108 people dead, with martial law declared all the way to Perth Amboy.  James Haskins immediately took the Hadkins truck to help the people evacuating from Perth Amboy.  The teamwork of firefighters and volunteers prevented the main storage shed from catching fire, sparing Tottenville the need for evacuation.
In a handout at the Tottenville Memories event, Kathy Marsh shared the process of making the soda in a two-story building at 407 Craig Avenue.
“Upstairs in the syrup room were huge hundred gallon vats where sugar and other products were mixed.  The syrup was then piped down to the first floor where all the machinery was.  A huge bottle washing machine used to scrub the bottles perfectly clean.  From this machine the clean bottles had to be taken and put into the filling machine were first the syrup was put in, about one and a half to two ounces of it.  Then the bottle was moved slightly and the seltzer was put in and the same machine capped the bottles.  The seltzer was made in its own machine.  In this way a case was made a minute.  The cases were stacked and were ready to be delivered.  There were seven and twelve ounce and quart bottles.  Paper labels were put on the quart bottles by a machine that had to be run by a person.  A case of soda cost ninety cents with a two cents deposit on each bottle.”
Collectors still covet empty Hadkins soda bottles.
For More Information:
Hadkins Beverage Company
Morgan Company Explosion

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