Old Time Slidell Soda Shop: Coming Back Strong after Katrina
started the soda shop in Slidell, Louisiana, in the late 1980s. He remembered as a kid hanging out at pharmacy soda fountains, like Waterbury’s Drug Store at the foot of Canal Street in New Orleans, and was inspired to recreate that childhood setting. Beginning with a 1955 model Bastian Blessing stainless steel fountain — the type that dispenses soda water out of gooseneck heads — he converted a World War I-era building in Slidell, on the suburban side of Lake Pontchartrain, into a classic, Eisenhower-era luncheonette.
Jackson knew little about the business — and had never made an ice-cream soda before. But thanks to patient and loyal clientele and a lot of research, he has become a world-renowned keeper of the soda shop tradition.
“I decided if we were going to do it, it should be more historically correct,” he says.
Jackson quickly found out that old-school soda jerking was a calling. “A first-class soda jerk working in New York in 1919 commanded a salary of 40 dollars per week,” Jackson quotes from one of his reference books. “A licensed pharmacist working at a chain drug store was paid 50 dollars a week. The fact that a full-time soda jerk could earn 80 percent of a pharmacist’s salary was a clear indication of their importance to the drug store.” Continue