ANTIQUE BOTTLE CLUB
| MEMBER CLUB OF THE
WRITTEN BY ALLAN C. HOLDEN
|Back in the Saddle
A New Start!
As crazy as the last couple years have been, each new day offers us a brand new beginning. Sadly, the pandemic left all of us with some unfinished business.
On May 7th of 2020 our dear friend and club president Chuck Parker passed away. Chuck left all his pain and suffering in this world behind him, to enter the abode of, as he like to say, “The Big Man Upstairs.”
Even though we are all created for an “eternal existence,” the only route that leads to God’s welcome, is the pathway of His empty cross and empty grave.
The gospel message of the cross and empty grave would not exist if God could simply excuse our sin . . . but He could not, it demanded payment, a payment only He could make.
Because of His holiness, our sin demanded a payment of death, He took that bitter agony of the cross for you. With Him, being sinless, death had no claim on Him.
Salvation can be received freely, or it can be freely declined, everyone makes that choice . . like-it-or-not.
Chuck’s daughters, “Lori” Grantham and “Susan” Anspaugh, have invited all past and current members of the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club, and friends, to a Memorial Service for our very dear friend, Chuck Parker. The service will be September 11th at grave side. The location is Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park South, 3941 South Westnedge Ave. Kalamazoo, MI 48008.
Here is the text message I that I received:
PICNIC PLANS- CHANGED . . .
We had talked about having a picnic in Oshtemo at the local park. I am afraid I lost sight of those plans, sorry.
Since the last club meeting, I charged head-long into summer with reckless abandon. With June, July and August ahead, and with almost nothing on my schedule, the picnic plans were swept into the dark corner of my empty mind.
However, I came up with an idea, an idea I shared with President, Rob Knolle, which he liked.
How about we kick off our 21-22 season with a “Charles H. Parker Jr. Memorial Pizza Party!” at Chuck’s favorite pizza parlor Bimbo’s Pizza! This would be for our September 14th meeting.
We have all wanted to do this for over 1 ½ years! But, because of the Covid, Bimbo’s has been only been doing carry out service. Well, HEY! They reopened their dining room!
My only regret about moving our meetings to Otsego, is very simply that we haven’t been able to get Mary and Linda Hamilton a ride to the club meetings. I know if Chuck was still with us, they would be riding with him to every meeting. Chuck greatly valued and respected Mary’s knowledge of local Kalamazoo history . . as do many of us!
I am certain we can get Mary & Linda to this pizza party. I will also let the Otsego Museum know of our plans and invite Neta Nowak and her husband to the party.
I am truly sorry about messing up the picnic plans!
In the past picnics I provided the charcoal grill and meat, someone provided the drinks etc. This time around we never got that far in our planning. Actually a pizza party is a lot less work.
At our last meeting, just before our summer break, May, 11, 2021. We had the following smiling faces glowing with joy unspeakable:
Kelly Bobbitt, Vincent Grossi, Len Shaffer, Scott Hendrichsen, Ron Smith, John Winkler, Rob Knolle, Neta Nowak and Al Holden.
If you came in late, relax! we only give out tardy marks! Just kidding, I honestly I hope I didn’t miss anyone.
It is with great sadness that I have to report our special friends, John and Lynn Winkler are moving away to be with their children. Pray for those kids!
They do plan to stay in touch, but gosh I will miss those two smiles!
At our last meeting, we finally had the raffle drawing for the 2020 & 2021 bottle show, the shows which never happened. We started selling these raffle tickets back in 2019! I, and others were still selling tickets well into 2021! I saved all the tickets, but I haven’t counted up all the stubs yet.
The winner of the metal detector package was Jared Rice, of Three Rivers. Michael Cooldaugh, from Grand Haven won the $75.00 second prize, and Kelly Bobbitt won the $25.00 third prize.
Also, at the May meeting, we saw some cool bottles! Our feature theme was “Alien and Indian Bottles!”
Scott Hendrichsen brought in some of my favorite “Indian Medicine Show” bottles! The famous “Kickapoo Indian Medicine!”
Scott displayed a Kickapoo ‘Indian’ Cough Cure, and a Kickapoo Indian Sagwa bottle, with a full label and the bottle is fully embossed! A double wow!
And another great bottle was, Scott’s “ Dr. Colwell’s Magic Egyptian Oil” from Jackson MI.
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company was headquartered in Boston in 1881 to 1884, then it moved to New York for three years and in 1887 settled at its ‘Principal Wigwam’ in New Haven. They finally moved to Clintonville, Conn., in 1901.
The owners, Healy and Bigelow, weren’t the first to have traveling Indian medicine shows, but they were the best. These two men knew how to capitalize on America’s love for the western frontier.
The greatest advantage the medicine show had back in those days, was rural America was starving for entertainment! They had no radio, TV, or Internet to take their mind off their hard labors and aching bodies! What am I saying? Why they didn’t even have electricity or indoor plumbing!
The traveling medicine shows were a very popular form of entertainment for the entire family! People flocked to them, young and old alike when they came to town. They featured fake war-dances and Indian marriages, acrobatics, vaudeville acts, fire-eaters, rifle shooting, ventriloquists and trained dog acts. The only thing they didn’t feature were Indians who were actually from the Kickapoo Tribe in Oklahoma!
Many of the Indian actors came from small Iroquois tribes in New York and Québec or Plains Indians, and many were lured away from other traveling shows. Actually, an Indian could do well for themselves making nearly $30.00 a month! That was good money!
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company boosted their overall sales with the traveling medicine shows which also served as good advertising.
Part carnival, part sales pitch, they featured Indian ‘agents’ or ‘professors’ making outlandish claims for their quack cure-all in between Indian acts.
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company’s shows were the biggest and most successful in the United States. They capitalized on the American belief that ‘Indians had a deep knowledge of natural medicine.’
John E. Healy led a checkered career before he stumbled on the idea of an Indian medicine show. He had been a drummer boy in the Union Army during the Civil War, worked as a door-to-door salesman selling vanishing cream, a purveyor of ‘King of Pain’ liniment and proprietor of an Irish minstrel show.
Healy hooked up with Dr. E.H. Flagg, a Baltimore peddler who also played the violin on street corners to help sell his Flagg’s Instant Relief.
Flagg’s Instant Relief was soon renamed, “Kickapoo Indian Oil!” In the fall of 1879 the two men hired Charles Bigelow to take the Kickapoo Indian Oil show on the road. Bigelow had left his family farm in Bee County, Texas, to tour with a phony Indian medicine man, who called himself ‘Dr. Yellowstone.’ Bigelow called himself ‘Texas Charlie,’ and he wore a sombrero over his long flowing hair and spewed humbug about the amazing properties of his Indian medicine.
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company reassured its customers that their medicines were made from rare and very carefully selected plant roots, barks, twigs, leaves, seeds, and berries. All these special ingredients were the most beneficial, because they assisted Nature in the right way to make her own ‘natural cure.’
Kickapoo Indian Oils were ‘quick cures for all pains,’ and the Kickapoo Indian Cough Cure could cure ‘all diseases of the throat and lungs.’
They promised their most popular product, Kickapoo Indian Sagwa, would purify the blood and cure all diseases of the digestive system.
As I mentioned, they advertised it as a product of roots, herbs and bark, but a rival claimed it was really a mixture of stale beer and aloe.
Buffalo Bill Cody endorsed Indian Sagwa in a patently false claim:
“ Kickapoo Indian Sagwa … is the only remedy the Indians ever use, and has been known to them for ages. An Indian would as soon be without his horse, gun or blanket as without Sagwa.”
At one point the Kickapoo Medicine traveling shows, had over 100 troupes out on the roads all around the Midwest.
The Plainwell Library has photos of a medicine camp set up south of town on old U.S. 131, the old “Plank Road.”
I painstakingly reproduced an advertising banner for one of those Plainwell Indian Medicine shows. It finally started to fall apart so I discarded it.
Between the entertainment, a Indian agent dressed in buckskin, or sometimes a professor in top-hat, would boast the value of the Indian medicine until the loud war whoops of Indians interrupted his lecture. They would come running down the aisles with baskets of Sagwa, Indian Oil, Cough Cure and Worm Killer, which they sold to the audience.
“I’ll take one! Here is my dollar!”
The medicine show's stage was decorated with colorful props and the back-drop was decorated with giant, colorful, carnival style banners which added to the wonderment of the show!
Soon, here in America the radio took over, then the TV, and then the computer, and now the cell-phone. . . too bad!
I would love to travel back to an old fashion medicine show!
Scott also displayed a tall, deep- green, wine bottle with an oval seal embossed into the shoulder, usually the sign of a high priced finely aged wine. The seal reads;
“Grommes &Ullrich, Chicago”
Hubert Grommes, and Michael Ullrich, operated a wholesale grocery business in Chicago in the late 1860s. In those days, many of the larger grocers had marketing agreements with suppliers that included labeling with their own house brand. Which became the trade of Grommes & Ullrich.
The company was also making a reputation for the number, and high quality, of its “giveaway” items. Competition among liquor dealers in Chicago for the business of its saloons was fierce.
Grommes & Ullrich understood that, and were noted for their store logo advertising gifts. Gifts like sample bottles and holiday giveaway flasks. Among them were glass etched, clear “back of the bar” bottles that advertised the saloon’s several brands. I have a Chicago back bar bottle with gold leaf embossing!
Years back I shared this story; When my father had his RV business, we never missed a chance to get our dealership exposed to the camping public. We would sit up a trailer display just inside the main entrance at the Allegan County Fair each year.
We would arrange the new travel trailers in a half-circle around the south doors in front of the big Industrial building. Anyone coming or going, passed by the open RV’s and were invited to browse around.
On the inside of the building, right next to us, and placed between the two doors, was a pitchman, high-up on a elevated table top display. His display was well lighted, and very colorful with his product boxes stacked high.
He also had crates of fresh, colorful, garden produce. Overhead, right above the table, he had three angled mirrors so the whole crowd could see all the way to the back row! This guy could draw a crowd and keep them!
“Folks this is the kitchen work saver you will come to depend upon! You will soon wonder, “how did I ever cook a meal without it!"
Use this handy tool to make healthy meals so much easier than you ever dreamed possible!
Make salads in a snap! It slices, it dices, it cubes, it shreds and it wedges! You can quickly make a creamy coleslaw or dice an onion in seconds, and all without one tear!
Do you like hash browns, french fries or shredded carrots? . . . . . You can quickly cube or shred cheese for tacos!”
All the while that he is speaking through his microphone, he is turning carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce into colorful, perfect art!
Over the course of the fair week, I think I purchased at least six or as many as a dozen for Christmas presents.
After my father found out how bad I got carried away, he put his hand on my shoulder and said,
“Al, the easiest guy to sell to is a good salesman . . . you have to be very careful.”
When my grandmother passed, mom was cleaning out her house, she found two (or more) 1968 versions of brand new Veg-O-matics still in sealed boxes!
And here I thought I made her life easer!
I realized the second one she had, I had very likely given to my Great Grandmother!
My great grandfather, was a professional cook. All he ever needed was just two knifes. That, and she was never big on automation!
Other bottles at the meeting were also very cool as well! Rob Knolle was traveling the deep south when he stumbled onto a store selling hundreds, no thousands of old bottles! There were racks and racks of bottles!
To borrow from Eric Burdon’s Spill that wine “There were long ones, tall ones, short ones, brown ones, black ones, round ones, big ones, crazy ones!”
Rob contacted me while he was standing in the store! He was running around like a 7 year old boy who was riding in the car for an hour after mom told him to “hold-it! We are almost there!”
Rob finally decided he couldn’t bring them all home, so he settled on a few that he really liked. (Glad I wasn’t there!)
Rob also picked up a couple European bottles that are very sharp! One says “James Eadie LTD, Burton on the Trent.”
James Eadie (1827-1904) was a Scottish brewer who founded a brewery in Burton on Trent which operated for 90 years.
Today, the product has been carefully recreated! James Eadie's Trade Mark X blend has been copied using archived ledgers and a rare pre-WWI bottling of the original whisky. James Eadie founded his brewery in Burton-on-Trent in 1854, the same year he developed the Trade Mark X Scotch blend.
Another early English bottle Rob found is a blob top W.Gadd beer bottle in aqua.
Another more modern 1950's soda bottle featured, etched in glass
glass an Indian, “Pokagon” soda bottle! Very cool!
Pokagon soda flavors were orange, root beer, cola, grape, strawberry, cherry, grapefruit, creme soda and lemon-lime which was called “Life.” Life was nationally distributed in a green bottle with red lettering. Pokagon Pop! It lives on in the memories because it became such a big part of everyday life in Angola, Indiana.
Pokagon stopped bottling in 1970. What does this remind you of? Our very own Town Club Soda! I purchased cases of Town Club from their Westnedge store! It was good stuff!
The September 14th Meeting will be at Bimbo’s Pizza
located at 338 East Michigan Ave. Kalamazoo, MI
Bimbo’s closes at 8:00 so we would like folks to start showing up just after 6:30 so we can get our orders placed.