Vol. 13 No. 3 November 2015
KALAMAZOO ANTIQUE BOTTLE CLUB NEWS
Club of the F.O.H.B.C.
Written by Allan C. Holden
|Thanksgiving Time in America!
Thankful for Friends!
Hope you are all enjoying this colorful Michigan autumn! We certainly are blessed to be living in this beautiful part of America!
I haven't been out privy digging for almost 8 years now, and a whole lot has happened in the meantime! It was 7 years back when I found that I had cancer and the treatment itself only took about 3 months. However, after that, it took about 6 years before I could say I feel good again!
It was last year, in 2013, that my oncologist said, "Allan, I am discharging you as a patient of the West Michigan Cancer Center."
What a dark chapter in my life! Thanks-be-to-God, it wasn't the last chapter! I feel God left me here to raise a stink and I fully intend to do just that!
When I did get out to dig, my favorite time to dig was in the fall! In Michigan you have to value autumn on its own merits, because if you see it as just a threshold leading into a cold, hard Michigan winter, that will sour your view! At least it does mine!
Fall is not without its faults! We live on a lot that is about 1-1/2 acres in size, with 5 giant maple trees, and with a few more belonging to the neighbors which all overhang our yard! I don't love the leaf raking issue! I would sincerely love to give a piece of my mind to that guy who invented the paper yard-waste bags! But otherwise, fall is a beautiful time of year.
For some reason I feel more connected to our early ancestors at this time of the year. It seems most appropriate that our Creator would bring a time of harvest just before the long wintertime. Could it be that He knew what He was doing?
Just think what a busy time autumn was for the early settlers! When I was first married, I heated my home with wood. This was in the early 70's, before it became trendy!
I loved being in the woods in the fall! My grandparents had 500 acres in Allegan County, which was abundant in giant hardwood trees. On a rotating 10-year basis, my grandfather would sell off some of the oak, walnut and hard-maples, and I would be given all the tree-tops that I could clean-up to heat my house with! It was a lot of very hard work, but I loved every minute!
My grandparent's land was very hilly, being located on the western edge of the Kalamazoo River Valley in Otsego Township. In fact, my grandparents owned much of the area known today as 'Bittersweet Ski Resort.'
When the loggers would fell a tree, they would drop it over the hillside, then remove the tree-trunk from above. This meant that the tops I was cutting, had to be carried up-hill by hand, one piece at a time! When I think back on my youth, from within the body I am now using, it is mind numbing to think what I could do! It went from being extremely hard (back then), to nearly impossible today!! I can still tackle some big jobs; it just takes a lot more time!
Up until recently, in the area where I used to cut firewood, there was an old farm that my grandparents owned. This was the farm where my grandmother was born.
After my grandmother passed-on I saw a photo taken in front of the old barn where they had a giant wide-wheel steam tractor hooked up to a threshing machine. My great grandmother, and her daughter, my grandmother, were in charge of feeding the crew. I can still recall when she would say to us grandchildren, " You eat like a bunch of threshers!" She would know!
When I asked my stepfather about the steam tractor and giant threshing machine in the picture, he told me its owner, (and he could actually remember his first name was Jack), would go from farm-to-farm to make his living.
My stepfather lived just a couple blocks from downtown in Otsego and, as a boy, Hod remembered the tractor with thrashing equipment coming down their street on the way to the west side of town because that street was still gravel!
He clearly remembered hearing the giant iron wheels crushing stone as it slowly rumbled down the gravel street. I would imagine with the puffing of the steam engine, and the sound of crushing stones, it must have been like a parade going by for a young boy! Hod recalled how the owner would treat the boys to a blast or two on the steam whistle! I dearly love to hear steam whistles!
The old steam tractor burned wood, and Hod remembered the guy was a short crippled-over man, whose power was in his marvelous machine! But more power was needed to get the job done! Grandpa relied on other farmers and his neighbors!
From time to time I hear from folks who are less-than excited about Facebook, but I see it as the modern way of replacing the old "visiting over the backyard fence." Today we still need the old neighbor looking out for neighbor concept. Back 80 years ago, it took team work to get those crops harvested and many of the big jobs done! People knew each other and they cared for each other. I see that coming back to some degree on social media.
Quite honestly, I have reconnected with family members whom I may have never seen again for the rest of my life, were it not for Facebook! And think of this; some of them live within a few miles of me! If nothing else, they have been reminded why they didn't like me in the first place!
I am sure my father would have enjoyed it! Social media is really a refined descendant of the CB radio, but WAY more refined! The more modern refinement gives you the power to de-friend people who really need to chew on grandma's cake-of-soap! Do you recall listening to some of those CB bucket-mouths who cursed like they were an open sewer? It actually got pretty bad.
Another thought on those early times; one cannot help but think about the huge value of glass bottles! What a life-saver glass was! Just think of the importance of canning jars at harvest time! I still love to can, but this year, for the first time ever, I fought and lost my battle with a woodchuck!
Recently I took a trip down memory lane. I was remembering as a boy spending a lot of time at my grandparent's home. In the fall, my grandfather loved to take full advantage of his small apple crop. He would take several bushels over to Charlie Andrews to press into cider.
Also, on a cool autumn day I would sit at the table in the warm country-kitchen drawing pictures, as grandpa would cook up a big batch of applesauce. And oh . . . it was so good!
So, last week when my granddaughter was over, I made a big kettle of applesauce and it turned out perfect! (I just got very lucky!) But the memories were the best part!
My mother still does a lot of her own canning and I think that is so neat! There really is nothing like going into a long, cold Michigan winter with a neatly- stacked wood supply, and a full pantry!
There was much more
than just cutting and hauling
that cord wood! There was
the job of unloading, splitting
and stacking! At the end of
the long day, you would sleep well, but you would wake up
stiff and sore! And what
thresher or woodsman could
ever be without a bottle of
"For the Outward Ailments of Man or Beast,"
Mexican Mustang Liniment could cure over 30 ailments, including rheumatic pains, sprains, strains, burns, bites, scalds, colds, sore throats and lameness!
Horses, and Domestic
Animals are always liable to
accident! No family can pass
a season without some kind
of emollient being necessary!
Mexican Mustang Liniment
is well-known throughout the
habitable world with millions
upon millions of bottles sold
without a single complaint"
Over a decade ago, I was digging a small dump area in a long-lost logging camp in the Western U.P. with my father-in-law, Bob. (Some of the best times of my life!) The most abundant bottles we found were catsup, pepper-sauce and a Mexican Mustang Liniment bottle! That was actually the first I learned of the product! If it was good enough for lumberjacks. . . what more can I say?
Mexican Mustang Liniment was first introduced in 1825, (I would love to have a pontiled one, and they are not at all rare!)
When the side-wheel steamer S.S. Republic was found in 2003, 35 Mexican Mustang Liniment bottles were recovered from the wreck site. The S.S. Republic went down in a hurricane in 1865, and over 51,000 gold and silver coins were recovered from 1,700 feet deep!
During our last meeting, president Chuck Parker told the club about the passing of our club member Judy Jesiek. Jim and Judy Jesiek have been members for several years and they are from Middleville, MI. Some of our newer members would not know them, because it wasn't always easy for them to get down to the meetings. On the other hand, when Chuck told us the sad news, I did hear a few immediately pipe-up and exclaim, "The cookie lady!"
The last time I could find where I mentioned Judy in one of our newsletters, was in a Christmas Party report from December, 2012, when I wrote; "Judy Jesiek brought in a plate of homemade cookies. They were just little cookies, so I figured having one could not possibly do me any harm. My goodness, they were so good! I had at least two . . . maybe more! They were soft melt-in-your mouth, sweet and yummy! What a treat! Thank you, Judy!"
I am certain that was not the last meeting they attended. Jim told Chuck that Judy had been struggling with some health issues. I am qualified to say, "Sometimes these bodies can be a struggle to live with!"
Jim, you are in our prayers, and we are all so very sorry for your loss, I hope we see you again soon my friend.
The winners in the "Here" category: Mary Hamilton, Vincent Grossi, Ron Smith, Ed Nickerson, Bill Drake, Charles Parker, Kevin Siegfried, Tim Hayes and Allan Holden. We also welcomed 2 guests, John Papke and Richard Schrich, who came with Bill Drake.
And by the way! Was it ever their lucky night! Some dumb bloke lugged 2 gallons of fresh cider, 1- dozen donuts and 1- dozen donut holes, half a block and up the world's slowest elevator! (For future reference, a one gallon bottle of cider is enough for a group this size! Who would have thunk-it? Or drunk-it?)
Our theme bottle for last month was "Small Bottles." It is interesting how we each remember things differently. Tim Hayes recalled when we had a small bottle night at a meeting sometime back. I had decided to donate a silver dollar to the member with the smallest bottle.
We give away tons of goodies like this at the metal detector club meetings each month, and the members really love it! So, I had an extra silver dollar and I felt extremely generous.
We give out silver dollars and many old coins for door prizes! So, I figured it would be fun to try doing it at the bottle club, so I did. The funny part is, that is all I remember! Tim recalled at our last meeting that I won my own prize!
At the time, I never even considered that I might have the smallest bottle! The only time I won anything for having the 'smallest' anything, was five decades back in the boy's shower room at school! (Muscles)
But, Tim remembered that I won my own prize with the smallest bottle that night!
Well, I did it again. . . and it was no small feat!
Tim Hayes brought in a nice olive-green round bottom pocket flask. It was a little thick and heavy for a pocket, maybe better suited for a saddle bag. It was of the sheared lip, open pontil variety. I did a small amount of research, and that led me to wonder if it could be German, and perhaps from the late 1700's? Pretty cool bottle, that's for sure!
Vince had a giant clear-glass crown-top bottle which could have been perhaps beer or soda. It was pretty big, perhaps ½ gallon! I am glad he brought it in because my smallest bottle was nearly identical in shape but 1/1000th the size! I was told that mine was a morphine ampule. Vince also had a small, cobalt-blue Vick's purse bottle. That was a screw capped bottle and a little gem!
I usually have trouble bringing in bottles because I have most of my collection glued down. But I did bring in a few small examples. One was a tiny round bottle in the shape of a canteen. Tim Hayes suggested I do some research on it. It is embossed "M. Lee Starke, Brooklyn" I found that M. Starke was an advertising agent in Brooklyn in the 1880's and he was on the board of a paper named "Printer's Ink." I also found that one had sold in the past and it was promoted as a pill bottle. I just wonder if it wasn't passed out as an advertising item to his ad, clients?
I also brought in a
of 4 early hand- blown
syringes. I purchased them
several years back from
Duane Nickerson. They were
dug in Allegan, at a house
believed to be the office of
the first veterinarian in that
city. The first syringe was
invented by Charles Pravaz
and Alexander Wood in 1853.
I believe these date back into
displayed a small pill
bottle that is embossed
"Hoods, Cures Liver Ills."
Also I have a little bottle with
label and contents with a wax
sealed cork. The label is
lettered in Chinese characters.
I e-mailed a picture to Hunan
Gardens on West Main in
Kalamazoo. We love to eat
there and I have turned to
them for a translation before.
As of this writing, I haven't
heard from them.
I want to
hear from you! Phone number and e-mail link below. THANKS!!!!
I came home Tuesday night from work without my notes. I am closed on Wednesday and that is when I put together the newsletter. So, I am working from a very poor memory and if I forgot to mention something from last month, I am very sorry.
Chuck called me and
mentioned that our November
meeting theme is
Kalamazoo Bottles and "go-withs."
'Go-Withs' are product advertising
and promotional material.
Any interesting Kalamazoo historic items such as products, photos,
are always welcome!
I also heard from one of our student members, Kelsey Ennis. She told me that she has been super busy with school and her work, but she has been thinking about the group! I need to check on Katie Osborn next!
Antique Bottle Club