Jewel Wood worked in the Victory Soda Shop in down town Ray City, Georgia. She was hired in 1943 by Ralph Gaskins, the shop’s original owner, and was employed there for more than 40 years.
In its heyday the Victory Soda Shop was one of the best known landmarks of Ray City. It was located in a brick commercial building on the corner of Main Street and Street. The shop was a popular gathering spot for local citizens, and once boasted the town’s only telephone.
In a 1984 newspaper article Wood reflected, “I was there when they first had fountain drinks. They provided special glasses with marks to show you where to put the syrup, the soda, and the ice. The brass cash register is still there, the five and one cent keys all but worn out from the days when coffee was a nickel and candy was a penny.” Besides the obligatory soda fountain offerings, she served the patrons quick fare like hamburgers and hotdogs. The Victory Soda Shop’s hand squeezed lemonade was widely regarded as the best in the area. In the early days, she knew all the customers by name. One any given day, you could expect to find the town’s old timers, pundits and sages gathered around a table swapping yarns, offering advice, or analyzing current events over a cup of coffee.
From behind the counter, Jewel Wood saw Ray City change with the times. With the triumph of the Allies in World War II, the little shop earned its name. In the Sixties, the Civil Rights movement ended the segregation of the shop’s clientel. Later, the construction of Interstate 75 meant less traffic passing through town, but the local fame of the Victory Soda Shop would still draw the occasional visitor from the highway.
Over the years the shop had different owners. Billy Clements was the proprietor for many years. In 1984 it was owned by Jewel Wood’s son, Johnnie Wayne Wood. The Victory Soda Shop is closed now, although the brick building where it was located still stands, the last remaining commercial brick building in Ray City.
A previous Ray City History post included a newspaper photo Victory Soda Shop ~ Ray City, GA
Brian Brown provides a photograph of the building that once was home to the Victory Soda Shop at Vanishing South Georgia
- Ray City Soda Jerk
- ERA Druggists’ Directory
- Early Telephone Systems Operated In Local Towns
- Sargon Once A Sign of Ray City’s Prosperity