The Fort Dodge Messenger: Aug. 24, 1906
Where Do The Bottles Go?
Question Not Easily Answered by Busy Milk Men — Many Housekeepers Borrow Them at Times
“Where do the pins go?” is an old and trite query that has never been satisfactorily answered. The modern dealer is puzzled by a similar question equally difficult of solution: “Where do the milk bottles go? No matter how carefully or plainly they are marked, they say, there is a constant shortage which can not always be accounted for by the breakage which is, of course, to be expected.
“Our regular customers,” said one of the prosperous dealers a few days ago, “are very good about returning the bottles. It is the chance purchaser who runs into the store for a quart or a pint who is apt to be careless about sending back the bottles.”
“Yes, the bottles belonging to different dealers are always getting mixed,” continued the same speaker. “Many people, who are both willing and anxious to return the bottle, can not realize that it matters what dealer gets them, just so they are handed to some one of us. Some times I have bottles belonging to three or four different dealers, all plainly marked, left at my store or handed to my drivers by people who seem to think they have done their duty in a most exemplary manner.
“We had a good deal of trouble getting them to their proper owners until the last one of us established a sort of exchange in his milk store. the store is centrally located and when any of us gets another’s bottle by mistake we just stop and set it on a shelf behind the door there and look among the collection for our own. There are generally bottles representing half a dozen dealers or so on this shelf, which we find a very convenient institution.”
“It is a surprise how many uses cna be found for a milk bottle. They are a convenient shape, solid and strong, and the four different sizes in general use suit quite a variety of purposes. They come back to us in all sorts of conditions.
“Some housekeepers appear to depend upon them for supplying a shortage in the supply of bottles for catsup or pickles. They are quite popular receptacles for pear butter, apple butter and other sort of jams which need not be air tight. People seem to think we ought not to object to loaning them for a few months for such useful purposes.
Sometimes Coal Oil
The use we do most seriously object to our patrons putting the jars to is that of a substitute coal oil can. Every once in a while, when we put a quantity of bottles into the scalding tub, we notice strong fumes of coal oil. Of course that means that the whole tubful of bottles must be taken out and thoroughly washed through several waters in order that the offending bottle may be certainly secured, and nobody have cause to complain of the flavor of the milk next morning. If we could find out who was guilty of putting milk bottles to such a use it is likely that person might have trouble in getting bottled milk, but the bottles are returned with others and we are apt not to notice until the hot water gives it away.
A great many bottles are ruined by carelessness in taking out the pasteboard tops, say the dealers. People in a hurry force a carving fork hastily between the bottle and the cap, or often strike the tip carelessly when trying to force it off with some equally clumsy implement, and the result is nicked and uneven edges, which often extend themselves into cracks, which in time spell the fate of the bottle.
A neat little wire implement has been invented for lifting the cap and some of the dealers have presented one to each customer, finding that hte small outlay is more than made up in the improved condition of the bottles.