Friday, October 21, 2011

Ulmer revisited, Old Bottles and Jaromír Vejvoda

D.C. Petty popped up in a picture driving his Ulmer Cabinet beer wagon and after we noted the Ulmer Beer sign over the old Claudio's building in the prior post, we figured there was something more to the tale so we went looking.  Again, we figure this picture to be about 1910 or a bit earlier and its taken outside Preston's at the foot of Main St. in Greenport.  Most of the buildings are recognizable including the Reeves building (the tall, square-topped on 1 in on the far left).  This would all seem logical in time, particularly if we put on our Sherlock Holmes thinking hats and noticed that Mr. Petty was delivering cases of bottled beer and not big kegs.  Aha!

It seems our Mr. Petty was affiliated with the Sterling Bottling Works here in Greenport. Ulmer shipped in barrels and Mr. Petty bottled the beer. In fact Mr. Petty bottled a lot of stuff and his bottles, which if you rake for chowder clams in the area, you occasionally turn up. Some of them fetch a pretty penny now and his "blob top" bottles are pretty scarce all cleaned up.

There are a couple stories deeper in this.  One is how bottles were made back then and the other is Sterling v. Stirling.  Lord Stirling was the subject of a prior entry so let us look at the other.

If you look at bottles from about 1910 or so, you can actually see that they were made in halves and fused together. The molds were of wood and one of us actually has a Ruppert Beer bottle "clamed' from the bay that shows the wood grain that was often left in the glass surface as something of a fingerprint.  The other method is the modern method that made the bottle 'proper' out of one injection mold - all save the bottom which was often added.  Enough. But Mr. Petty was known for his blob-top bottles and even Mr. Barth - of apothecary fame - used his services.

In the blog entry before this we noted that the Ulmer Brewery was in Brooklyn and the brew was likely transported out here in the traditional kegs and as the Long Island Railroad had its main line terminal here in Greenport and actually a train ferry went from here to Connecticut, perhaps Mr. Petty figured having a bottling company here made great sense.  Bulk in - bottles out.

Jan, one of our local residents with a great deal of common sense along with business skills noted that refrigeration as also an issue - how to serve a cold beer on a hot day.  We have noted that there were ice houses in the area - mainly to pack shellfish for the NY Market (yes we blogged about that a while back) but that doesn't permit cooling a big keg of beer - but bottles meant an ice box came into play just on the size issue alone so Mr. Petty's common sense was likely a gold mine.

Last, we come to Jaromir Vejvoda, who no one remembers although he died just over 20 years ago. He was a Czech musician who penned a catchy tune in 1927 "Škoda lásky".   We will tip the beer bottle on its side for a while and venture on to other things but it was a fine if not tipsy couple days of thinking about our village a hundred years ago....a fine time indeed.

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