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Hart Family Memories
Growing Up with Coca-Cola
A third generation member of the Hart Family working at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Santa Fe. shares her memories of growing up along with the company.
- Starting in Santa Fe
- Early “Technology”
- Every Employee is Family
- A Tradition of Accountability
- Supporting Sports Fans
- Part of a Growing Community
“The first bottles of Coca-Cola were bottled by hand in my grandfather's garage in 1920. He and a man named John bottled a few cases by hand and would take them around town and try to sell them.
My dad would tell the story that my grandfather would leave a case of flavored drinks, orange, grape, root beer and one Coke, in the middle at Kaune’s Food Store on Old Santa Fe Trail. When he returned the following week, all flavors would be gone, but the Coke was still there.
Slowly, the Coke started to sell, and the rest is history. Eventually, he was able to move the company out of the garage, and bottled and distributed from a store built from rocks that still exists on the corner of Guadalupe Street across from Guadalupe Church.
In the late 40’s or early 50’s, the company was able to move into the building at the opposite corner at Guadalupe and Aztec Streets. Grandfather eventually built an office space onto this warehouse and we thought we were pretty high class to have an office.
In 1968, the company moved to a new facility on San Mateo. My grandfather was very proud of his new location. Even after he “retired,” he came by every day to check on everything and everybody working. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Santa Fe still operates there today.”
“My earliest memories are helping my dad, Robert L. Hart, run his “route” which included filling pre-mix vending machines that would deliver a cup to the slot in front of the machine, fill it with ice, and then a choice of Coke, Orange or Sprite would fill the cup.
My dad would collect the money from the machine after filling it. The money would come back to the Coke plant. My grandfather, James A. Hart, would let me stamp the coin wrappers with the bank stamp to identify the coins belonged to Coca-Cola.
Eventually, around 1961, I was given the job of counting the sticky coins and placing them in the paper coin rolls to be deposited at the bank. My grandfather was a very exacting taskmaster and always looked at the length of the rolls to make sure they were the same size.”
“Our family-run company always treats our employees like family too. One former employee who worked for my grandfather and grandmother in the 30’s remembered working during a very cold winter. Nobody had enough money to dress very warmly. My grandmother and great-grandmother knitted enough gloves for every employee. This man said that he would never forget that act of kindness.”
"When we moved into the new plant on San Mateo in 1968, I was elevated from the money counting room to the production line. I would inspect the returnable bottles, empty and full, to make sure that they were clean and that there was nothing obvious in the bottles before they were filled.
My grandmother took care of the “books” from the beginning and kept careful track of what came in and what went out. She passed that on to Joann, who did the same for 53 years. Between the two of them, they covered the main bookkeeping from 1920 to 2009.”
“I also was able to ride along with my dad to Santa Fe football games at Major’s Field. Dad would sell Cokes off the back of his pickup truck and bags of peanuts. A lot of spectators bought those Coke’s and put their peanuts in the Cokes. He was pretty popular at those football games.”
“I know that when the railroad was still running up north, my grandfather would send cases of Coke up to Taos and Chama on the railroad. When my dad was old enough to drive, he was sent up to those locations to deliver Coke. He would always fish on the way back and enjoy the scenery. He knew all the best places to fish up north of Santa Fe.”