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Kansas Town Celebrates Soda Jerk

October 7, 2002

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GREENSBURG, Kan. (AP) _ After 50 years as a soda jerk, Richard Huckriede’s importance is about to be enshrined.

``He’s kind of an icon in Greensburg,″ said Paula Davis, president of the historical society.

Money is being raised for a life-sized cardboard cutout of Huckriede’s image for a soda fountain exhibit at the Kiowa County Museum.

Huckriede, 73, moved to Greensburg, with a population of 1,574, as a young man, and began to work at Hunter Drug Store after high school, selling sodas for a nickel a glass.

``I just really never had any plans to do anything else,″ the lifelong bachelor said. ``I guess I’ve always enjoyed the people.″

On Wednesday, Huckriede celebrated his 50th anniversary at Hunter Drug.

``No plans to retire,″ said Huckriede, whose title is general clerk, but doesn’t mind being called soda jerk.

The store was built in 1917. When Jamie McElwain bought it in 1983, Huckriede had already been an employee there for 30 years.

She kept Huckriede as an employee because he was dependable and personable.

``He is wonderful with little children,″ she said. ``He has a soft voice, and he talks with them.″

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