Wednesday, March 23, 2011


“Wooo Hoo! It’s OPEN!”

I hear eight-year-old Maddi scream as the tires of her bike skid to a stop at the bottom of our driveway. Behind her comes the parade of her twin sister Sophie and her triplet brothers Aiden, Evan and Luke, flowing down the bend of cement on wheeled chariots; bikes and scooters and modern-day-descendents of the Big Wheel. I’ve just pulled into the bay of our garage, the fan still hums as it cools the engine in my van. I’m almost knocked over by the stream of kids: sun bleached hair, soft glistening skin the color of browned butter, flip flops and sockless canvas tenny runners. They shoot past my van, straight to the front of the garage where the neon glow of the OPEN sign reflects on the silver tops and colorful sides of aluminum soda cans. Their little hands reach and grab at the top of the counter, looking like a human octopus stuck in a whirlpool, in and out they go, picking a root beer…no wait, a Fresca…ooo, you have caffeine free Mountain Dew!...nah, I’m picking a root beer! One or two take a cup and scoop ice from the ice machine, then open the drawer and retrieve a straw. The others drink it straight up; no ice, no straw, no cup. They scurry out the garage oblivious to my presence, till Aiden calls back “Thank You” and they all echo as they rise up the hill and into the cul-de-sac, They leave me a sweet trickling chorus of thanks.

Dave’s Pop Shop.

When we built this house we realized we were closing off a pathway long used by neighborhood kids to travel between two housing sections. The developer should have seen this and made accommodations for foot travel between the Hollow and Summerwood. But he didn’t. Anyone else would have done all they could to preserve their privacy when they built on our lot. Not Dave.

I love people as much as anyone I know, but even I want my privacy.

Not Dave.

I should say he respects privacy and understands our need for it on some level, but it mattered more to him that we not interrupt people’s access to each other. He simply did not want to even appear to be the snob who took away the foot path. So we have a gate that remains open 24/7, allowing anyone to pass through. We lock the gate one day every 10 years so the land does not become public by habit (there’s a law about that that I should remember from our real estate classes.) People walk past our messy garage and rather undisciplined grow box garden, up our driveway or down the path and past the big rock behind our house. I wouldn’t mind keeping my mess to myself.

Not Dave.

He’d rather not have the mess. But the mess does not stop him from welcoming any weary or not-weary traveler to stop at his Pop Shop for a little respite from the heat of travel.

We bought some cabinets from a friend’s kitchen when they remodeled. Dave installed them in the garage. It was great for quite a while, relatively tidy out there. That was until our kids started going to and returning from college. Things started to pile up out there. And the more there were piles, the more we piled on. It’s some universal rule of magnetism that messes beget messes.

One year, for Mothers Day, Dave presented a most glorious gift to me. A stand-alone ice machine that made little square cubes of clear, hard, crunchy, yummy ice! I am the grand-daughter of the man who owned the Blackfoot Ice House back in the day, when there was no Freon flowing through tubes in the refrigerator in the typical American kitchen. There was only an ice box, with a compartment fit to hold a block of ice, replaced every other day by a fresh block, sawed to size from the gargantuan blocks my grand-Dad and uncles had cut from the Snake River in the winter and stored in sawdust through the summer.

That big dark Ice House loomed over their living space. By the time I was born people had electric refrigerators in their houses and only bought ice for their camping trailers in the summer. When I was quite little I remember my brother chiseling a small chunk of ice from a block in the chilly dark cavern of that ice barn. I held the frozen chunk in the fabric of my cotton blouse, lifted it to my lips and licked until it was small enough to pop into my mouth. I laid in a pile of sawdust and let the coolness drip down my throat. The crisp light air cooled my sun steeped skin until the ice was melted and I was chilled to the bone. I love ice.
Dave installed our little electric ice machine in the garage to avoid the possibility of drainage problems on the wooden floors of our kitchen. He placed it smack between two of the cabinets. Next thing I knew he came home from Smith’s with a van full of soda pop, all varieties. He arranged the pop on top of one of the cabinets, beside the ice machine, and invited passing neighbor kids to stop for a drink when he was out there working.

Next he bought a little fridge.

The word got around. Lots of people started passing through our gate. Just about every one of them is exceptionally kind and delightful. The school bus started picking up and dropping off neighborhood kids right by the gate. We soon found we needed to set some rules. Like all good rules, there were just a few of them, and they were easy to understand. Here are the rules I posted on the gate the first day of school. They now hang above the Pop Shop on the cupboard door:

When one of my favorite stores in Kaysville closed their doors, I asked the manager if she’d like to sell me their OPEN sign. This was before places like Costco sold them. She said sure. So I brought a nice neon sign home and Dave installed it above the Pop Shop. Parents are pleased that we have some sense of responsibility and don’t over-supply their kids with unnecessary sugar every day. And we need to be able to have our garage to ourselves if we want. So we yank on the pull chain under the sign every few days, and nearly every Saturday in the warmer months, and on Sunday afternoons in the summer when our neighbors tend to take their Sunday strolls. The Shop is traditionally closed on Fast Sunday. No sense in tempting our youth.

We know soda pop is not healthy. It’s not the means though which we should be getting our fluids on a regular basis. We suspect some people wish we didn’t have this available. (We do keep water out there as well, I might add here.) But in a society where so much is ME oriented; where we teach our children to protect what is theirs and preserve our entitlement to things we’ve earned; we see Dave’s Pop Shop as an attempt to swing the vote to graciousness, generosity and good humor. This is such an inexpensive way to teach kids how to be nice and share. Heck, who would not spend 20 measly cents to help a neighbor kids feel special?

I don’t love having my whole life exposed to the public. This might surprise some people, because I’m pretty open personality-wise. But I have my pride. And I like a little privacy. I even placed this door mat by the door coming into the house from the garage:

I don’t particularly love the exposure the Dave's Pop Shop gives us. But I DO love that the man whose name I took as my own three decades ago has a tender place in his heart for all God’s children. I love that he is willing to give up his own time and money and space to bring a half-a-minute of pleasure to our neighbors and their friends. I heard a teenage companion of one of our neighbor boys talking as they walked through the gate, their soda cans whooshing as they clicked the tops open, “Wow, so cool that your neighbors just give you that!”

Such a cheap way to appear cool!

I empty my van of the groceries as the parade of Harris kids disappears up the hill. I step on the Leave floor mat and press the electric opener to close the garage door. It pops back up. Something has triggered the electric eye. Looking back I see the littlest Harris boy, Nick, run in, focused on the row of soda against the wall. He grabs a pop and scurries back out.

“Fanks, Coe-wee”, he calls out behind him as he runs to catch up with his siblings. I yell over my shoulder, “You’re welcome Nick Nack!”




  1. i love the pop shop and the people it brings to your house. i love dave. l love cori.

    everyone wants a pop shop but not everyone is as generous and kind as the connors! and thanks for carrying coke in the pop shop too!

  2. I never knew the story behind the pop may have just caught an extra customer on Sunday afternoon/evenings this summer.
    It is my dream to do this one day. I love this idea with all of my heart (as much as I love soda).

  3. I am so glad you married Dave so I get him for my uncle. I love you both SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH! I only wish I could visit the pop shop more often.

  4. Oh i love the pop shop. And I love that it is always stocked with diet coke, lovingly by Dave. Love him so!!

    Love you too!!

  5. Today, I did something BIG at this law firm in Salt Lake City, and so I earned the right to write. I too never knew the etiology of the Pop Shop so thanks. No, not where the sign came from or the "Leave" door mat, but the love that has quenched the thirst of many, including me. And yes, it's called "pop".

  6. And with your permission we opened "Pop Shop West". We don't have the foot traffic that you do in Farmington, nor neighbors passing by, but for years we have had Joseph friends entering the front door and heading straight for the pop shop. "Oh Sister Mullen," they would say, "you got IBC!! Thanks!!" Such a little thing in life really but what a great visual I will always have of those boys surrounding my table, drinking their sodas, chatting and laughing while building frinedships that will hopefully last a lifetime. David and you have always been such fine examples to us of goodness. Thank you for that!!

  7. I don't know what to say. magical for the kids. Wonderful of Dave. Wonderful of you. I wouldn't have done any of it. Dang it. I love foot paths - but I'd have double fenced it so my back yard was private. I'm not cut of the same quality cloth. It's called "open and notorious use."