Hatteberg's People - Sharolyn And Jay Wagner: Celebrating History And Life

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Hatteberg's People, in the small community of Bennington, Kansas just north of Salina there is a little piece of history. Created by Sharolyn and Jay Wagner, it is part soda fountain, part museum and a great little place to just hangout.

It's a little place called the Linger Longer. The Wagners spent 14 years rebuilding the building.

"We've gotten a lot of benefit from living in Bennington and I just feel it is important to invest in the community that you are in," said Sharolyn Wagner.

"We knew it was going to be quite a bit of work, but we didn't know we would have to fix everything," said Jay Wagner.

It's complete with an old style soda fountain and a five-stool counter. More importantly, it reminds the Wagners of their past.

"I want the kids to have the same sort of experience that I had when I grew up. It was fun," said Jay Wagner.

"I think it is important that people remember the past as they move into the future," said Sharolyn Wagner.

That past began as a pharmacy in the early 1900s. The building burned in 1912 and the pharmacy rebuilt, going through a series of owners. The Wagners purchased the building in 1996 and the restoration began. Today, it not only operates as a soda fountain, but as a Dr. Pepper Museum. Jay is addicted to Dr. Pepper and Sharolyn loves collecting.

"I think we have over 2,000 antiques and collectables here. This is the favorite part of my collection. I have several cans here that are Dr. Pepper 'wanna-be's. I think I have about 80. And some of them are wickedly bad, nasty, really bad. And some are actually very, very good," said Sharolyn Wagner.

Jay even installed Dr. Pepper trains.

"I never had a train when I was a kid so I have my train now and I'm quite happy with it. I have spent an ungodly amount of hours making trains," said Jay Wagner.

But it's fun and it adds to the ambiance of this one-of-a kind soda fountain. In the back is a place where young people can gather to play pinball just like the old days.

"I didn't lose as often on this one as I did on the others." said Sharolyn Wagner.

Or there is a "shocking" device. Grab a hold of it and for a quarter it gives you a little buzz. Kids loved it, no matter what their age. There is also a soda fountain where you can still get an original "Green River" soda or a banana split to die for.

"Life is a process. You have to enjoy it as you go along," said Jay Wagner.

"I want everybody to come in and have a good time. It's very important to me that everyone who walks through the door feels welcome," said Sharolyn Wagner.

Both Sharolyn and Jay realize they'll never get rich in this place, but they are certainly rich in a shared experience of creating the past for a small Kansas town.

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