May 24, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about a group of older businessmen who frequently gathered to discuss the affairs of Junction City. Lynn Sargent shared his memories of the old west over a soda fountain, which was purchased at the Columbian Exposition in 1892. The soda fountain was located in a Junction City drugstore founded by his father. Mr. L.W. Sargent first saw this fountain at the Chicago World’s Fair. It was covered with blue ribbons and he ordered one for his store. This fountain was still at the family drugstore until it sold out in the early 1940’s. A Fort Riley carpenter had installed it along with a wood canopy with antiquated frescoes over the top. At the time, that type of soda fountain was the finest in existence.
Coca-Cola was first served west of the Mississippi from this fountain and for over 50 years each afternoon at four o’clock the older businessmen of Washington Street could be found at Sargent’s drinking a coke and discussing the affairs of the town. This gathering came to be known as the “Coca-Cola Senate”. The fame of this group would long outlast the ornate World’s Fair Fountain, however.