Monday, November 22, 2010

Trash-picked Tuesday: Take your medicine!

I've mentioned before that we have a cabin in the mountains in a rural part of Pennsylvania. And since it is so rural, there has never been trash pick-up. People used to dump anything they couldn't burn into the woods, and I suppose many still do. It is a favorite hobby of mine to uncover these old trash dumps and find things I can re-use. Usually it's old milk pails or sap buckets, or most commonly, bottles.

All of these, except for the largest one in the back, are probably medicine bottles. The ones on the right have a really unique shape, almost like a pocket flask, in that they curve slightly to fit in a pocket. The round one at the left is one of my favorites in that you can see bubbles in the glass meaning it was hand-blown.

This one is marked with the doctor's name. Back in the early days, many doctors (and later druggists) mixed their own formulas, and patented the mixtures (hence the name "patent medicine"). The traveling medicine show became famous for quakery with showmen selling cure-alls that of course did not do a thing. But until medicine became highly regulated by the FDA, it was always "buyer beware"!

This one is not a medicine bottle at all, but a soda bottle produced by a local bottler. Neis Beverages were sold in this area up until 1956. I found this one at a local park that had once been the amuseument park Menlo Park, which also closed in the mid-1950s. I was walking along the hiking path and just happened to notice a glimmer of glass under the dirt. I dug it up and this is what I found.

It's cool because it's a link to the park's past- I can just see people waiting in line for the carousel (which is still there and operates about once a month- rides are 25 cents each!) and sipping on a soda from this bottle. There are a couple "ghost parks" around here, and I just love the idea that nature has reclaimed them in such a short time. Some of the features are still evident, like concrete pads from rides and rusty lights dangling from the trees. Even some of the places I went to as a child are no longer there- here's a cool website if you remember places like Forest Park or West Point Park, or even the grandaddy of them all, Willow Grove Park!


  1. hey nice idea i love that idea
    Am I Depressed

  2. That was such a cool post! I love the idea of looking for treasures in the woods.

    The FDA might 'regulate' medications but we all know it's all a big money and politics game! I would still say 'buyers beware'.

  3. I love these old bottles, and the story reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer and his Dad become salesmen for snake oils. Haha. Thank you for become a follower at SixBalloons!

  4. Oh I love the story behind the soda bottle! I wish we had some cool artifacts like that on our hiking trails. Sadly its mostly modern trash! I guess old habits are hard to break...people littered then and despite our best efforts still do today!

  5. Very interesting! Your story reminds me of the Keno Brothers book, in which they reminisce about searching for old trash pits in the upstate New York region. It's a time honored profession!

    One of Michigan's best known historic preservation cities, Marshall, once had a booming patent medicine industry. People still make jokes about their pink pills today.