|KALAMAZOO ANTIQUE BOTTLE
Written By Allan C.
Happy New Year Ye-Olde Bottle Club!
Happy? Who Are You Kidding?
Well folks, here we are again, venturing out onto unchartered territory with a brand new year. Our pastor did a 'year-in-review' message regarding Otsego Baptist Church. He started out listing a number of wonderfully healthy babies born to young families in our membership. Next, he mentioned a list of members who passed on to Glory in 2017. . . we have a tendency not to think of
life in those terms.
I came into work on January 2nd for the first time this new year, parked my truck, stepped out and learned that we have a frozen waterline under the parking lot. So now, I have my little heat gun trained on the copper pipe where it enters the building . . . only God knows if that will do anything other than run up the electric bill.
I believe I heard that the President wants to return a man to the moon, but we have no method of thawing out a frozen pipe underground??? When we have running water, we sure do take it for granted! The guys who rent the back building found a plumbing outfit who has a steam probe that may work or may not. The charge $70.00 for the service call, $100.00 to set up, and $160.00 per hour with no promise.
A couple years back we had some short term renters in the building I am in now. They were not heating the building and the sewer line froze! Well, enough of that.
The plumbers arrived at my store with a set-up similar to a low voltage 120 arc-welder. It was more like a heavy duty battery charger. They ran one 80 foot cable out to the valve box by the road and they hooked other long cable to the copper pipe where it enters into the basement. Next, they simply plugged the device into a wall socket. I fully expected the electrical breaker to pop-out, but it held fast! Once they had current flowing through the system, they kept checking the connections. When they went down stairs, they thought they heard water running . . . but nothing.
When they decided to get some lunch, I heard the water flowing into my bathroom sink! "Hey! It is running. The water is running!
They waved and just kept walking towards Burger King. "Let it cook awhile," they shouted back.
Two or three years back, I had some temporary renters in the building which I am now using. That fellow, along with his wife and daughter, was selling those velvet Elvis blankets. He had used his blankets to block off the front room and he heated that room only. Well, the sewer pipe froze! Let me tell you, that was an ugly mess! We had to wait for a season change for that to heal. Once you go through that, it is something you never want to see again!
We tried having Roto-Rooter clean it out, but they didn't have a cable long enough to break through. However, they did recover enough evidence to help us understand the problem. Not only did the basement remain unheated leaving the sewer pipe exposed to extreme cold, but instead of using bathroom tissue they were using paper towels, which restricted water flow. Rarely will flowing water freeze, but if it cannot flow it will freeze. But in that case we didn't lose the fresh water flow.
Let me tell you, with an old outhouse and a old fashioned well- pump great granddad didn't have these worries! We take running water and electricity for granted. Keeping a few empty Vernor's Bottles around when the toilet won't flush . . is a good idea, just don't put them in the pop machine by mistake!
The plumbers picked up their gear and a check for $509.00 and were onto the next freeze-up. They are booked up! This Global Warming Climate Change has been a bitter-cold disappointment for me!
I have a Facebook friend who is out working on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, Mackinaw. They have been really busy opening the upper lake's trade route! I do not recall ever seeing so many freighters iced-in so bad in December!
I haven't had much time to work on this newsletter so I will get right down to business.
The last time I spoke to Chuck was right after New Year's Day. He told me that he was slowly gaining ground on his healing, but things are progressing too slow to suit him. He asked the doctor how long he should expect healing like his should take. He was told to expect 6 months! Chuck then told me, "That doesn't mean me!"
I wasn't able to let him expand on that because I had something unexpected to deal with. My custom mounted heat gun pipe-warmer had fallen onto the floor. I had it duct-taped to a stand, pointing at my water pipe. The duct tape had become so warm that the adhesive turned to liquid! This was something that would have made the NASA people proud! This is exactly how people burn down their houses!
I reminded Chuck not to push himself too hard, because his healing could turn around and start heading backwards! What I lack as an engineer, I make up in medical science.
We had a good meeting last month, but it was tough to not see everyone out. The way things are going 'weather wise,' it doesn't look like Chuck is going to try to get out again this month.
At the last meeting we saw the following friendly faces; Ed Nickerson, John Winkler, Jean Bogard, Rob Knolle, Mary Hamilton, Kevin Seigfried, Ron Smith and Al Holden.
Oh yes, there was another member who was briefly at the meeting, Mark McNee! Mark stopped by the meeting 'on-the-fly.' It is times like this when I am faced with the reality of a condition called 'chemo brain.' Even though it was 7 years back, the effects of cancer treatment left me with a brain delay problem that can be annoying and at times embarrassing.
I should have had Mark sign-in on the attendance sheet, so that he will be qualified for our 1 million dollar drawing! Also, I should have introduced Mark to our new members. Mark is one of the early founding members of the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club and the original American Picker! I consider Mark, a good friend, and a real professional!
On this occasion, Mark was on a Christmas gift giving mission. He donated a box of bottles for, as he put it, "The Club Raffle."
I explained to Mark that we haven't done a raffle in a long time, so he suggested "Use them for prizes. Merry Christmas," and it was up the chimney he rose!
After he drove out of sight, I thought of the Lone Ranger when someone asked, "Who was that masked man?"
OK, there was no mask. That unmistakable smile actually belongs to Mark. I just slid the box over to the corner of the table and we went about our meeting.
Before we left for Bimbo's Pizza, Jean Bogard cut up some tickets for a drawing. As I unpacked the gift package, everyone was blown away to see 4 beautiful pepper sauce bottles! One was an aqua cathedral style, two were scalloped-fluted style with three ring necks (aqua and clear), and one early, totally cool, beehive style!
As I said, I wasn't thinking. I should have unpacked them before Mark left! Everyone was so surprised! Thank you so much, Mark!
Kevin Seigfried brought in a box full of goodies! Two were quart-sized cream-top dairy bottles. One was from "Riverview Damascus Milk Company." Kevin saw the name "Damascus," and he said, "I had to have it!"
I guess you could say Kevin had his "Road to Damascus moment."
That is an old saying that means "life changing moment." The conversion to Christianity of the apostle Paul took place while he was literally on the road to Damascus from Jerusalem. Prior to that moment, he had been called Saul, and was a Pharisee who persecuted followers of Jesus. He also temporarily lost his sight . . . but I do not recall a cream top dairy bottle in the Bible account.
The other cream top bottle was from the Allendale Dairy. I am not sure if this was Allendale MI or not, sorry!
Kevin also has a very interesting tiny milk glass bottle with a cork closure which has a brass ring- pull. My guess was, "Travelers Ink?"
Kevin also had a milk glass World's Fair decanter and clay master ink with three little clay ink bottles.
One ink bottle was a labeled Eugene Dietzgen Co., with contents. For me, the highlight of Kevin's bottles, was actually not a bottle at all. I must have loved it, because I took several photos! It is a milk glass pitcher made for cream or
perhaps for oil. It has some very neat inclusions in the glass giving it the look of white jade. I remember Kevin saying, "I would love to see this with a light inside," which what I was thinking too!
Ed Nickerson displayed a red-amber blob top bottle that is embossed on the bottom, "Red Raven Splits."
Have you ever seen a red raven doing the splits? Have you ever seen a peanut-stand or a rubber-band, or a needle wink its eye? If so, very likely you could use some Red Raven Splits!
It was not an alcoholic beverage. It was marketed in bars as a hang-over cure! Red Raven Splits started in the 1890s, and were still around after Prohibition. It was much like a mild bitters, similar to Pluto Water, which was more-or-less to purge the system.
It is interesting to note the Pluto Water had a 'bitter' taste and the bottle was also embossed on the bottom with the little devil character.
Red Raven Splits had some colorful advertising!
We called in our pizza order from the Library, so it was fresh from the oven when we arrived. Matt, the owner's son, and current business manager, is one of my customers and friend. It is rare to see Matt
working the closing shift but they were short staffed that night. When I went up to pay, Matt told the cashier "I have their drinks!"
To top that off, several of our group received some sharp insulated pizza totes! Pretty nice if you ask me! Did I mention the best pizza anywhere? It sure is!
This Meeting . . . .
I have been too busy, trying my best, to keep from going back to
and those cold, horrible, leg irons. When my business is slow, in the
cold of winter, I have to
really get busy and work hard for every penny! So, my time to work on
any newsletter is hard to find. .
The following is recycled material;
This is a U.P. Treasure Hunting story that I wrote over a decade back, I do hope you enjoy reading it. Next month, my father-in-law, Bob, turns 90 and he is still treasure hunting!!
Winter Adventure . . . .
Part of what I enjoy, when I go detecting with my father-in-law, up in Michigan's western U.P., is simply riding out to the sites that we are going to hunt.
As many of you know, my father-in-law, Bob, is a retired logger who really knows his way in the north woods. During his logging days he was fascinated by the deep woods and its many hidden secrets-- secrets that from time to time over the last 40 years, he would discover.
These secrets of the woods are now almost invisible. These were once locations of early lumber, mining or railroad camps and ghost towns. Not only did Bob make some mental notes of these locations, but often he would research these sites. Ever since my wife and I gave him his first detector for Father's Day a few years back, we have been hunting these areas together.
As I mentioned, getting there is half the fun. I get a chance to sit back and enjoy the scenery. And in the western U.P. the beauty is breath-taking. Of course the journey to these sites is often miles of two-track driving deep into the woods. The wildlife is awesome! The site of a mother bear with her cubs, the red, summer coat of the White Tail deer, wolves, beavers, eagles, woodcock . . . I take it all in as a precious, treasured gift from our marvelous creator.
On this occasion, we were heading to an old hunting camp. As we drove along, Bob related a story associated with the site that we were about to detect. I guess you could say this story has become a local legend.
The old hunting camp was, in its day, a large well-developed spread. There was a group of cabins, equipment sheds and a mess hall, as well as other buildings. This site was used for several years until the end of the 1800's when it was destroyed by a forest fire, then never rebuilt. The story about the old camp starts several years after its destruction by fire.
A woodsman who lived off the land, trapped, hunted and even attempted to prospect in the area, hiked deep into the woods. He started this trip into the woods much later in the season than usual. The area, which was best known for its long hard winters, was enjoying a late Indian summer. Thinking he would capitalize on the unusually good weather the old woodsman decided to work his trap lines one more time. The hike would take about ten days if everything went well . . . which it didn't. Like most trappers, he would use crude shelters called line shacks along the course of his trap lines.
He was well over half way through his journey and deep in the woods when a winter storm moved in. At first the woodsman thought nothing of the snow. In fact, tied to his heavy pack was a set of snow shoes for just this problem.
As it turned out, this storm he was facing was like nothing he had ever seen! Snow fell so hard that he could barely see more than few yards ahead. What made matters worse, the storm had trapped him as he was cutting cross-country. How he wished the storm had hit him while he was near the river. Instead he was far from anything familiar.
To avoid a deep two-mile crevice where the river was impossible to follow, he would cut through the forest. Eventually he would intersect the river downstream where he would find one of the trapper's shacks.
The trail was familiar to him; that is at least when he could see it. It was kept trampled by other trappers and roaming deer. After just one hour of heavy snow, the wood's floor all looked the same. Getting his bearings from the sun or the stars was hopeless with dark gray clouds overhead. To make matters worse, using a compass in Iron County is useless, because of the ground's iron content.
The snow started out with large, wet flakes which came down like a shower. Within a short time he was soaking wet and soon the rapidly falling temperature froze his clothes and beard. Disoriented and cold, he tried to set up his small canvas tent which was nothing more than a wind break. By now, the wind was furious and defeated his every effort. He soon realized his struggle against the sharp, cold wind was for his life! Finally, he wrapped himself in the canvas, then covered himself as best he could in the already deep snow. The night passed slowly and the snow was growing deeper by the minute.
By morning the snow had let up, yet the sky remained dark with clouds. Knowing the north woods at this time of year, he realized this could go on for weeks, even months. His best chance of survival was to take shelter at the closest line shack . . . but clearly he was lost. Looking around as he moved slowly through the woods he hoped to spot a familiar landmark. Nothing looked familiar! He feared he was walking further and further in the wrong direction . . . perhaps to his death.
For a short time the snow let up enough so that he could see about an eighth of a mile in every direction. He strained to see as far as possible before trudging any further. That's when he noticed what looked like a clearing. It was hard to know for sure, from this distance he was not sure if it was a clearing, or if his eyes were playing tricks on him. Something deep inside seemed to tell him to take a closer look.
Yes, it was a clearing, perhaps the site of an old cabin or camp. He could not recall ever seeing this before, which only confirmed he was lost! The surface of the snow was level except in three areas which measured about twenty feet square. In these areas the snow seemed to indent about six inches. Without a doubt this was once a camp and these were areas dug under the buildings. Little good that would do him. Oh, how he wished one of those buildings were still standing! Then he noticed a depression caused by a much longer building. This could have been a bunkhouse. On the other hand, if this was a work camp, or perhaps a hunting camp used by a lodge, this may have been a mess hall. All these thoughts ran through his mind as he approached the larger indentation.
The snow was starting to come down hard once again as if to remind him of the danger he was facing, that's when he noticed a large hole in the ground several yards away. As he approached the opening, he reached back to take his rifle from its sheath. If this hole was big enough to provide shelter, he wasn't too anxious to share it with a critter.
When he looked into the opening, he was surprised to see steps! It was a root cellar! At first he broke a long stick from a nearby tree and probed into the hole as far as he could reach to announce his presence. Then with a rag and some lard from his pack he used a shorter stick to make a torch. As he entered the man-made cave, he could not believe his eyes! There before him were porcelain cooking pots, glass mason jars with coffee, beans, rice, flour, etc.
Was he dreaming? Had he been in the snow too long? Was this a mirage? No, it was all there before him! There were two oil lamps stored next to two cans of lamp oil. There was even a large pile of empty flour and potato sacks.
He struggled to get his doe skin gloves off, then he quickly put one of the lanterns to work. His first order of business was to seal the doorway of his new found shelter. As he kicked the heavy snow away from the sides of the hole, he found a heavy wooden door. When he lifted it from the snow, he found evidence of the camp's demise. The door's outside was charred from the heat of a forest fire. Had it not been at ground level, it would be gone....................
As my father-in-law brought his truck to a stop, he finished the story. Bob told me this was the camp where the old woodsman survived for weeks in one of the worst winter storms in upper Michigan's recorded history.
Some believe this was a story spun in a northern bar. The more the story teller's mug was refilled, the better the story got. Bob went on to tell me that one of the reasons some doubt the story is because the root cellar was never found. "Do you believe the story is possible?" I asked.
"Sure it's possible, some of it makes sense, but I am not too sure if I believe it," he replied.
Bob's story really made the area more interesting! As we detected around the site, it wasn't long before we discovered the camps large trash pit. The pit was hidden beneath a heavy layer of leaves. We both took an interest in this. Soon our detectors were propped against a tree and we started removing the remains of dozens of rusted cans. We had hoped to find some 1800's bottles and did we ever! The sad part was they were the most common early bottles known too man. . . . worthless catsup bottles! We did find a Hutchinson type soda bottle and a neat paneled Dr. Tobias Venetian Horse Liniment bottle.
When the trash pit was thoroughly explored, I went back to detecting. I wasn't at it very long before I felt nature calling. Being modest I decided to deal with this in private. I noticed a slight rise to the ground and decided to retreat to the other side of it. As I walked over the gentle rise, I noticed the ground seemed spongy. When I reached the top, panic took over . . . I started to sink! Before I had a chance to think about what was happening, I was standing in a hole more than six feet deep!
I must have let out a holler because Bob was looking down at me in no time at all! While my mind was racing to figure a way out, I realized just before me was a stairway. When I turned around, I saw porcelain pots and plates sitting on earthen shelves cut into the walls. On another shelf there were large empty canning jars. Beneath my feet was the large rotted beam that once supported the earth roof. I was lucky it let me down so gently! Right next to my feet were the remains of an old pair of leather boots. These boots were so big that made my size 10's look tiny!
We busied ourselves at the job of clearing away the earth from the cave-in. Then we searched the root cellar with a fine-toothed comb. There we found the remains of old lanterns, lamp oil cans, and old cloth sacks that were now like dust. I had hoped we would find something dated. A diary would have been nice!
Our discovery certainly doesn't prove the old legend to be fact. But it does make it more plausible. Of course those of you who know me have heard me say, "Metal detecting without an imagination is like metal detecting without batteries!"
Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club
We meet at the main Kalamazoo Library, 315 South Rose Street. We meet on the third floor in the conference room. This meeting is January 9th. Meeting starts at 7:00