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Mason County Memories

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History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News

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david k petersen

Somewhere around the summer of 1969 when we were in Junior High Mike Knudsen [Ludington Electric Mike] showed me the old city dump in Ludington back in the woods between Bryant Road and closer to Virnetta Drive. A wide swath had been cut and excavated through the 40 acre parcel that the city is now selling for development and it exposed a portion of the old dump that was used from before the turn of the century and up to about 1915.

There were a few bottle hounds that knew of the spot prior to that time and would go back and rake around for old bottles, but digging old dumps for bottles was just really starting to catch on and it was becoming quite a collecting craze in the late sixties and early seventies.

I would go back and poke around for the old bottles so that I would have something to take to the flea market on Saturdays to sell and make a little extra money. Being able to sell an old bottle for fifty cents or a dollar at a time when 5 cents bought a candy bar 10 cents a bottle of Frosty Root beer and 12 cents a comic book was a real treasure trove.

I had already been hooked on "old stuff" and was hauling home all kinds of treasures that I would find at yard sales and in the alley but I think it was Betty Neilson that took me to a yard sale out on Old 31 south where I spent my bottle money and bought an old Victrola for 12.00 and a porcelain doll for a 1.00 where I really got hooked.

The woman who was handling the sale just couldn't get over the fact that a boy was buying that old doll and I recall getting somewhat annoyed before we left and she enjoyed teasing me on the purchase. I knew what I wanted it for and that old doll in the wooden box brought a quick $15.00 at a local antique shop and covered the cost of the victrola I wanted to keep.

So for the next couple years I dug for old bottles amongst the onslaught of "Adults" who kept coming in ever increasing numbers to also dig for remnants of Ludington's past. It actually got quite busy back in the woods. Eventually on a weekend there may be a half dozen or more people at any given time and that is where I first met Budde Reed and Jim Fay, I stuck my head out of a hole saw them coming with shovel in hand and thought "oh no, there goes the neighborhood ". We had a good time though and the company was welcome.

Digging in an old dump like that is a lot like panning for gold, you never know what pop up, maybe it's worth a nothing, a nickel and sometimes much more. Whether for monetary value or historical value there is still quite treasure buried in that back forty acres.

One of my favorite bottles to unearth were the old style Pomeroy POP bottles, these were the ones with a thick squat bottle and a blob of glass on the top with a porcelain stopper, they are called Hutchinson style or "Blob Top." These are the bottles by which pop became known, lift that metal wire, up goes the stopper and "POP" carbonated heaven in a bottle.

Patent medicine bottle were another common find, one bottle hound said he found so many of the local bottles from Snows Pharmacy that he would toss them aside. There were other local pharmacy bottles such as Paquette's and Latimers, different beers, whiskey, and some of the more valuable bitters bottles.

Old porcelain doll parts, license plates, signs, and even an old gold crown were known to surface and be claimed by local treasure hunters but they eally only scratched the surface.

There is still a great treasure trove of local history buried in the sand and probably enough local pharmacy and other bottles to fully stock a restored drug store's shelves. I don't know what might be able to be done but there is history in dem dere hills and it would be nice to see if some of it might be saved rather then crushed by a bull dozer and entombed under asphalt.

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