Phillips relives first delivery truck route in Troy

Published 7:19 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2022

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I love to read stories about everyday people…those people in our community who work hard, have integrity and are honest.  I had the pleasure to meet M. E. “Coca-Cola” Phillips years ago and was so glad to find this story in the August 13, 1980 edition of The Troy Messenger.

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

It wasn’t unusual for M. E. Phillips to be at the courthouse on his birthday.  He’s there every day except Sundays and some Saturdays, playing dominoes in a back room.

But for his 83rd birthday, “Coca-Cola,” as he is known to all his friends, was presented with a cake, refreshments and the best wishes of his friends, who came in a steady stream to the little room at the back of the Pike County Courthouse.

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For 30 years and four months, “Coca-Cola” Phillips worked for the Coca-Cola Company in Troy.  When he first came to Troy, he drove a delivery truck.  After 27 years of that, he was put in charge of the plant here, he said.

“They told me if I got it on a paying basis in five years, it would be good,” he said recently, “but I did it in three years.”

His first route, he remembered, was back when the traffic was considerably lighter that now, and so were the number of residents.  At first he said his route covered Troy, Luverne, Rutledge and all the little spots in between.  As more and more stores stocked the beverage, he delivered just to Troy, and then to only part of Troy.  From two trucks, the Coca-Cola Company in Troy added more and more.

“Coca-Cola” retired in 1962 and now, although he is confined to a wheelchair, he likes to roll that chair up to the edge of a pond and do some serious fishing.  “He pulls in some good-sized catfish,” his wife, the former Elna Powell said.  “He likes to beat me at rummy, too,” Mrs. Phillips said, “but he can’t do it.”

But most of all, since he has been retired, “Coca-Cola” likes to stand those dominoes up on his side of the table and study them a while, then set up his opponents.

He came to Troy from Andalusia in 1932, when the population of Troy as about 5,000, he said.  His first delivery truck was an old Mack Truck, which went out from the warehouse behind the present railroad freight depot.

Later, he said, the warehouse was moved to Trojan Terrace, and then, in 1959, to its present location.

Sitting there in the back room of the courthouse, he sipped his Coke and reminisced a little while about the old days in Troy, when there was no traffic lights and mighty little traffic.  Then he set the empty bottle on the table, rolled his wheelchair around and headed for the room where the sounds of domino players already could be heard.

All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.