Milk bottles have never been a regular feature in our domestic life. Whilst we had a milking herd, milk was stored in the fridge in two big orange Tupperware jugs.
The most recent fill up from the parlour was always left to stand for the cream to rise to the top for John’s cornflakes.
Woe betide any wife or child who dared to pour out of that specific jug until John had spooned off the thick crust of cream for his breakfast.
I do not know what it contributed to his cholesterol count and arteries clogging up, but it doesn’t seem to have done him much harm. So far.
Occasionally old milk bottles have turned up in a pond that stands in corner of the paddock behind the farm house.
I think this particular place must have acted as a midden, dustbin, rubbish dump for the village as whenever the pond dries up, all sorts of ancient domestic detritus can be seen poking up out of the mud.
Many have a marble cunningly inserted into he top of the bottle. Apparently this is a nineteenth century invention to replace cork stoppers in bottles.
The cork had a tendency to dry out and soda pop in the bottle thus lost its fizz.
The glass marble was placed inside the bottle when it was cast. The pop was bottled upside down ( I do not know how but this is what I have been told) and the marble fell against a rubber seal. This seal must have perished over the years of being in a mucky pond, but the theory was/is that the pressure of the gas from the fizzy pop would hold the marble in place.
To drink the soda, you were required to press down the marble and release the pressure with a pop, hence pop bottle I presume, and the marble rolls into a narrow trough so that the pop can be poured into a thirsty throat..
Now usually we find these bottles with broken tops, as apparently, in defiance of early recycling enthusiasts, children broke the bottles to get the marbles. But just occasionally we come across a complete bottle.
These adorn our downstairs toilet shelves. Something to ponder on whilst you are pondering. One of my favourites though is an unusually large bottle, with raised relief of a cow being milked and the message that the milk is Absolutely Pure in The Milk Protector bottle.
Just why the bottle has these special properties I have no idea, but I am a sucker for a good spin so I will believe them. Well now the bottle is washed out anyway.
Although we do not have one, my favourite inscription on old milk bottle is on one that a friend keeps as a vase in her kitchen for bunches of country flowers.
The message inscribed was clearly to jog customers into returning their bottles and not to just chuck them in a bin. It goes something like this:
“This bottle costs ninepence
And’s as brittle as ‘owt.
If you brek it
Or smash it
I’m working for nowt.”