Vol. 11 No. 1                                                                                                                     September 2012
The Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club News
Member Club of the F.O.H.B.C.

October Meeting Falls on the 9th
This Month's Theme "GIFT BOTTLES"

I blew it! Chuck asked me to list, for our antique bottle theme; "Bring your favorite Gift Bottle" for this month! If you have ever received an antique bottle as a gift please bring it to the meeting! I forgot to add this to the newsletter that you members were mailed.

Last Month's Meeting

    We had a great turnout for our last meeting and I seriously do not think it was all about the great pizza!

    Seeing the bottles and other treasures on display at the last meeting was worth the membership dues, for sure! Ed Nickerson has been busy recruiting members and our newest member, Ronald Marsh, has already been turning up some interesting stuff!

    Ron has been monitoring the operations going on in a local environmental clean up project at one of the Kalamazoo waterways, and as we have come to expect, the old bottles are turning up. I love the study of human behavior; that is one of the many reasons I love God's Word-- the Bible. But one question that even the Bible has not answered for me is, "Why were our forefathers drawn to the waterways to dispose of their trash?"

    You can find a hint in the book of Genesis which explains that the water God used in the judgement flood of Noah's day came from both below and above the earth. Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

    Now, I can understand the logic behind the location of most farm dumps. The way I always had it figured was, the farmer did not dispose of his trash on any ground where he could either plow or plant. So, using that logic he created his private landfills in any ditch, swamp or ravine that he had.

    But, clearly the early settlers had no concept how our aquifer system works. Our great-great grandfathers seemed to have a disconnect between the surface water and subsurface water. I remember reading a book about how much cleaner both the air and water is today compared with a century ago. The book showed how man's understanding of his environment has improved.

    God's earth is amazing in so many ways, but one of the amazing jobs the earth has is working as a giant water filter. Do you like history? If you are in the antique bottle club, I'm sure you do. Try this on for size; the water you drink today, has very likely had been enjoyed in the past by Moses or his donkey!

    Disease was widespread during the mid-1800's because man would dump his waste right near where he drew his drinking water! I remember a missionary coming to the church we attend to give a report on his work we were supporting. I cannot remember where in Africa the mission field was located, but I remember that they were the first missionary group into this remote area ever!

    I remember the missionary was a doctor and I think it was our former pastor's father who told the story. As I recall he was a surgeon and the book he wrote is named "Daktari," which is Swahili for "doctor."

    On his first trip in, to minister to the first tribe, he was noticing some simple things that could be done to improve on the condition of the people. This started to burden his heart and he set a goal to get funding for his ideas. He saw small naked children wandering around without diapers and relieving themselves wherever and whenever nature called. So he set in his mind to press for the money to supply all the tribes with cloth diapers.

    Surely that one tiny step would greatly improve the tribes living conditions. It was in his heart to do that very thing until one day he saw some of the women down at the river washing out some garments. That is when he realized that diapers would poison the waters for the tribe just downstream!

    I may have told you about my daughter's science project. The theme was about "Caring for the Planet" and we came up with an interesting idea for a simple project that we could work on together. We found some giant syringes at the Farm Supply Store which were no doubt for livestock use. The company that made them was called Monoject and they were perfect for our project! We purchased several but all we were interested in was the outer syringe barrel.

    We built a way to mount these open ended tubes on a display rack we made out of clear plastic sheets. Each looked like a large test tube that tapered into a funnel at the bottom. We packed each one with any type of filtering material we could find. For example one was packed with cotton balls, one with lamb's wool, one with shredded paper, and one with fine brass fibers, one with fiberglass fibers another with finely ground charcoal, and lastly ordinary beach sand.

    Next, we mixed up a horrible concoction that would have earned the title of "Toxic Waste" in anyone's book. First we started out with clean drinking water, then in went used motor oil, ink, paint, mustard, catsup, chocolate milk, anything that we could lay our hands on to create a toxic soup. Under each tube we placed some small clear cups to catch our filtered liquid.

    Our final analysis was purely visual, but the results were amazing! Our waste water was a dark gray almost black liquid and only one material cleaned it back to crystal clear! . Yep, it was the beach sand! The next time you are laying on the beach whether it is the white limestone sands of Florida's beautiful beaches, or the tan iron tinted sand of Lake Michigan, may it always remind you that God knows exactly what He is doing.

    So, here are some of our new member's, Ron Marsh's, finds: a nice Kalamazoo City Bottling Works Hutchinson- type bottle, a very early crown top Vernor's bottle embossed with the warning "GENUINE ONLY WHEN CROWN CORK HAS THE ABOVE DESIGN IN RED!" The design is the a monogram crest circled with the words, "VERNOR'S GINGER ALE DETROIT MICH."

    How cool is that! Someone must have been pirating their bottles! He also found a Merz Capsule, a German Brewing Company bottle, an amber Armour Foods bottle, and a one-quart Chicago Brewing beer bottle.

    I was really fond of the Vernor's bottle myself, and I happen to have one already in my collection. My bottle was dug by Jack Short. Jack also thought it was such a neat piece of Michigan history that he contacted the company to see if they wanted it. They said, "No, thanks. We still have dozens of them!"

    I am a huge Vernors fan! In fact, in between these last two sentences, I took a drink of ice cold Diet Vernors. I went on a business trip to Normal, Ill., and before I went to the hotel, I stopped at a small market to pick up some Vernors and the lady asked "What is Vernors?"

    I told her, "Ginger Ale!" Then she asked, "What's Ginger Ale?"

    Then I asked her, "Why do they call this place Normal?"

   OK, Ron had one more item that I thought was about as cool as anything I have seen in a while. It is an old alarm bell and it is really awesome! It is brass and it has a beautiful green patina. It is 5 inches in diameter and very highly embossed with a very unusual design that I am certain has some meaning I haven't figured it out yet . . . but I'm still working on it..

    The bell had a threaded internal center to which it had been mounted onto backing. I cannot find any tell-tale bell-hammer mark, so I don't know if it was an internal or external hammer. I really believe it was from the early days of electricity which would put it back into the 1890's. It looks to me like the threaded mounting piece was an iron nut that was brazed into place. That part, being iron, is pretty much rusted away, but the bell itself is in amazing condition.

    Kevin also had some neat treasures, which it seems he always finds! He found a neat Cresolene Burner and a slender paper label Queen Mary Lavender Water Bottle, which is really cool!

    Scott and Chuck put off their annual trip to Alabama this year because both of their dear wives have been having some health issues. They are both in our prayers!

    I've been able to keep pretty good track of Scott lately because he has been digging with my old friend, Bill Riley! It is sort of funny because I know both of these guys from WAY BACK because of the metal detecting hobby, but they haven't known each other all that long!

    Well, you can bet they have been finding some very good stuff indeed! For the last meeting Scott had a sweet pontiled, teal-colored, rolled lip umbrella ink! I would say it is from the 1830's!

    The first really cool bottle that I had ever dug was a sheared-top pontiled umbrella ink in a deep dark olive green with lots of shelf wear on the bottom! I cannot prove it but I do know about the family who built the house where I found it. The house was considered by the historical society to be one of, if not, the oldest in Allegan County. The family arrived in the very early 1800's from Otsego, New York. I believe my ink bottle was in use when George Washington was president!

    Scott also found a beautiful deep-blood red-to-purple color Mrs. Allen's Hair Restorer! Man, what a treasure! Then if that wasn't enough, he found a neat, large, amber Charles Truaxe & Company medicine from Chicago. (If you cannot access the newsletter online), let me describe the embossing on this one. Across the top of the side panel, it has in large letters CHAS and under that the letters TRU and through those letters the image of a long handled lumberjack felling-axe, or "Truaxe!" Scott told me about one of the Chicago collectors who has a big Truaxe collection.

    Ed Nickerson always has something neat to share and on
this occasion it was a Wheelock

Druggist bottle from Kalamazoo. Wheelock was located on the corner of Kalamazoo and Rose.

Vernor's Ginger Ale

    The American Civil War had a great deal to do with the beginning of Vernor's Ginger Ale. Even before the first fighting started, James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist, had been working on a new drink "which was going to be beneficial to all mankind."

    `I'm not so sure he had any idea that while he was away serving the Union Army, he and Father Time were concocting a new wonderful soft drink.

    When Vernor was called off to war in 1862, he had stored a batch of the secret mixture in an oak cask in his pharmacy. After returning from battle four years later, he opened his secret keg and found the drink inside had been transformed! It had taken on a zippy, zesty, gingery flavor. It was like nothing else he had ever tasted.

    Now, if it had been me I would have forgotten to write the formula down, or forgotten where I put my notes! Very likely I would have survived the war because when I was 18, I was so skinny I could hide behind any tree!

    For years, the only place anyone could buy a Vernors was from the fountain in James Vernor's pharmacy at 233 Woodward Ave in downtown Detroit. But, the demand for the drink continued to grow and soon, soda fountains throughout the city began selling cold, carbonated Vernors.

    My grandfather had developed a great product in Michigan Cottage Cheese and just like him, James Vernor kept an ever-watchful eye on the his vendors! Maintaining the quality of his product meant everything and he was a fanatic. Vernor's personal scrapbook from back in the early days contains many of the pamphlets he sent to soda fountain owners. Those pamphlets "laid down the law" on how Vernors should and should not be served.

    Vernor also worked with soft drink manufacturers to make their dispensing machines more practical and affordable.

    By 1896, the blossoming popularity of his drink led Vernor to establish his own soda fountain manufacturing. In the years that followed, Vernors became available in Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland and Niagara Falls.

    A soda fountain owner who wrote to Vernor in 1898 noted that the ginger soda had acquired an enthusiastic following in his city. "Its purity, delicacy of flavor and great refreshing powers have been testified to by thousands of our soda customers," the bottler wrote.

    In time, The Vernors Company opened a landmark bottling operation in downtown Detroit to handle its expanding business.

Thinning out

    It has been a couple years now since my grandmother passed away. My mother and step father are nearly finished going through all of her things and getting the house ready for the market. I had a car stored out at her country farm and it had to be moved.

    I had picked the car up when I was in Fort Myers, Florida, for a very good price and the guy who owned it had a brother with a car hauler who made trips into the Kalamazoo area almost every week. It is a very straight rust-free 1982 Dodge 400 convertible. I drove it around one summer, but the car had so many miles on it I put it in storage, planning to replace the engine or rebuild it.

    The soft top has a hole in the driver's side rear corner and the back plastic window is falling apart. My step father and a friend from our church got the car out where I could load it up easily. The only place I could put it was in the parking lot at my shop.

    One day the guy who runs the auto service in the same building came in and said, "Al, did you know there is a cat living in that old car?"

    I should have known; the car is a light yellow color and you could see paw prints all over it. I didn't really pay too much attention, but it had crossed my mind that they were raccoon prints. We walked out to the car together and looked in, but there was no cat to be found.

    I have never went looking for a pet cat but they always seem to be looking for me. One day my daughter, who was in about the first grade, was playing around my store when she found a kitten in the tall grass. The kitten had grease smudges and rusty- colored stains on it, which was like wearing a sign that said, "I rode in from somewhere hiding up and under a farm truck!" As it turned out, my wife decided to name him Patches.

    Our next cat belonged to a lady who lived two houses down. She also wandered into our lives as a kitten, but within minutes her owner tracked her down before we got too attached! A few months later her owner was murdered. The lady's parents came to our house and asked if we wanted the kitten. Her name is Gabby and her middle name is Susie, after her first mother.

    We took in a cat named Chloe who was an older cat and one of our family members had to move to a place where she couldn't keep her. Chloe had a personality all her own. She was blind and she didn't warm up to everyone, but she adopted the wife and I.

    Three cats is the most we have ever had at one time. About one year after Patches passed away, we inherited my grandmother's cat Charlie. Charlie was pretty much an outdoor cat so he had struggled to adapt to the indoor lifestyle. We let him out on good days and it never fails, he goes hunting to repay us for our kindness. He brings home fresh mice. Of course that really freaks the ladies out and leaves Charlie scratching his head.

    So I walked quietly out to the convertible in the warm afternoon sun and there curled up into a warm fuzzy ball was a lovely little caramel and white colored cat. I could tell that she was a young cat, not much more than one year old. So I tapped on the driver's side window with my finger nails. She was in a deep sleep stage when she lifted her head, but within seconds she was on the fly! She went behind the back seat, then down under it. Convertibles have a rain trough under that area and she squeezed into it.

    I was so worried for her. Out at Grandma's house she was living in kitty paradise! She had a pond with loads of hunting and fresh water, but now she was 50 yards from M-89 and the busiest highway in Allegan County!

    As I was taught from my youth, I sought out advice from my wise elders. My step-father who suggested that I put some food and water into the car so that she would stay there until I could catch her. The whole idea was to keep her away from the highway.

    She was cleaning the food up and polishing the bowl. I had borrowed a live trap and had to give it a tune up before it would work right. I kept checking the trap every hour and frankly, I was relieved to see it was empty. By the time I went home that evening, I had myself convinced that she had moved on. Perhaps she had safely crossed the street at night and found a family in the trailer park across the street to love her.

    All that night I worried about finding that cat in the trap when I got to work. What would I do with her? She was going to be traumatized and I just didn't have any idea how to handle the situation.

    Sure enough, there she was. When she saw me, she searched even harder for the door to that trap. When I lifted the trap, she really started thrashing and I was so afraid she was going to seriously injure herself. I had to set her free from the trap as soon as possible.

    I carried her into my store and closed the front door and the door to my back room. If she got into the back room and hid, it would be hard to find her and hard to get ahold of her. In the smaller store area she could run to find to find a place to hide and that would be fine. I'd leave some food and water to give her some time to calm down. I wondered if I should just keep her as the store cat.

    After I had thought everything through, I opened the door on the trap and it didn't take her anytime at all to make her escape! But she didn't head for a dark corner to hide. All she saw was the big glass windows! Like a bullet, she was on the wide window sills, where there was no room for her because they were filled with antique bottles. . . dozens of 1800's hard-finished antique bottles!

    The smashing of glass was deafening! It was almost like looking over the rail at the Niagra Falls. It didn't sound as you would expect, it was more of a roar with the sound of a loud pounding heart in the background. After she had danced along the top of one window full of glass, she went in a single bound to another window, full of glass.

    Everything seemed like it was in slow motion! I saw a bottle to save and before I thought to react, ten more fell to the concrete floor. Finally I figured the best way to stop all of the devastation was to help her escape! I opened the front door, then dove for her in the corner of the window. I got my hands around her and she sped things up by biting and clawing!

    I didn't mean to throw her so far out of the door. My underhanded pitch was fueled by pain and adrenaline! She flew about ten feet into the air, spinning like a top, but she landed on her feet, running at full speed! That was the last I saw her.

    Perhaps the best bottle I lost, at least my personal favorite, was a pontiled 1860's doctors utility bottle with a large matching ground stopper. The bottle had years of scratching from reaching into it with forceps for cotton balls. Actually the thin glass jar survived. . . it was the heavy stopper that hit the floor first. Also several bitters bottles are suddenly more scarce.

The Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club meets at the main downtown Kalamazoo Library, located at 315 South Rose Street. We meet on the third floor in the conference room. This meeting is Tuesday, OCTOBER 9th. Meeting starts at 7:00 pm.

For questions:
To Send E-Mail, Click the E-mail Address below

e-mail prostock@net-link.net
Or call 269-685-1776

We had a great time at the pizza party and we had a good turnout. However, Chuck tells me that our paid member list has gone from a full sheet of address labels (30) down to about 9. Remember the membership dues are only $10.00! To make it easy I have provided this page so you can fill out and mail.

Send your check payable to: K.A.B.C. and mail it to:




MEMBER NAME                                                                                                                         

MAILING ADDRESS                                                                                                                                                    

ADDRESS (apt no.etc.)                                                                                                                 


STATE                                                                                    ZIP CODE                                     

HOME PHONE                                                                      CELL                                             


Chuck wanted me to add a line for social security number, mother's maiden name

credit card number, expiration date and security code, name of bank and account

number and all passwords. I told him he will be lucky to get the ten bucks!

Please help us bring the membership list up to date. Thank You!