By Peg Prendeville

This week I will give this space to my sister who wrote this interesting article some time ago. Philomena spent her first years living with my Uncle Dan and wife Ciss in Turraree.

The Bottle Bank

by Philomena Daly 

I enjoy going to the bottle bank and smashing bottles into the bottle bin.  Ironically I like hearing them smash and clatter into each other.  A great stress buster.  I say ironically as I appreciate different shaped bottles and all their varying colours.  I know my love of bottles and jars of all types comes from wandering around the “bottle Graveyard” in the haggard at my aunt’s mother’s house.

As there were no bottle bins back in the sixties, and quite possibly no need for them as mostly everything was recycled.  But there was a little corner of the haggard reserved for the safe storage/disposal of old jars and bottles.  I loved this corner!

What attracted my attention to it was the glistening of the sun on the glass, as if inviting me over to join in the merriment, as the sun’s rays on the different coloured jars danced in the summer sunshine.  The haggard being a suntrap itself.

There were the ubiquitous jam jars- different from the jam jars of today, as the old ones didn’t have a screw cap, but rather a rounded lip – I know this as I still have one.  There used to be two different sizes too: a one lb jar and a 2lb jar.  The bigger jar was only bought around Christmas time.

There was the lovely blue of the Milk of Magnesia bottle.  Vick’s medicine was also sold in blue jars. There were some green medicine bottles too. The little brown ridged iodine bottles. I loved the little bottles of all shapes and sizes.  It was an added bonus if the lid was still intact.  Then there were the square Chef brown sauce bottles, with the picture of the chef with his big hat and the white “smeg” on him.

There were big brown round bottles too, with shoulders on them and then a straight narrow neck.  I think these used to have some animal medicine in them, or else were used to “dose” cattle with medicine.  (I used to feel sorry for the cow or calf that was “bottled” as they always looked so scared, with their eyes wide open, as if pleading for understanding as to why they had to drink from such a bottle

It was fun to take out a selection of these bottles and jars and wash them. We borrowed the basin and its medal stand from the back kitchen.  My aunt also had one of those metal stands.

It was three legged and tapered into a slim waist, where a circular ring kept it together, before expanding again, where another circle of metal held it in place at the tip – into this circle the basin fitted and the little bowl half way done held the soap.

I can smell the red Lifebuoy carbolic soap just thinking of it.  There was also an extra metal band attached half way around the top ring, to hold the towel.

After we washed them all, my sister and I would set up shop with them.  The haggard was slightly to the left from the back of my grand aunt’s house – so we were away in our own world, but also within the security net of hearing the banter and chat as my aunt, her mother, and other neighbours chatted happily in the kitchen!

A real gem to discover would be Nash’s Mineral Water bottle as we could take these over to the local shop and get money for them.  That was a real treat!  But it was unusual to find one as all would be returned before we got to them.  Going to Mullanes with the bottles was a big event as we had to walk the mile over to the shop and we felt we really earned the money we got for them.

An added bonus was that we could then buy some more red lemonade with the money we got and this in turn let to another excursion of the shop “by and by”.  But it wasn’t all fun and games: there were rows and arguments.  I’ll always remember the time my sister annoyed me and I slapped her B-O-T-tom, as my aunt used to say, with the full bottle of lemonade.

The reason I remember is because the bottle broke and I lost both the longed for lemonade and the money I would have got for returning the bottle.  It was Karma, I suppose, and we were both laughing and crying at the same time.

Still and all I still harbour a love of quaint shaped bottles and one of the nicest Christmas presents my sister gave me a few years ago was a beautiful bottle in a lovely presentation box.  She obviously remembered my love of bottles – I wonder does she remember that fateful day too. Best not to remind her I think!

Perhaps that is why I like smashing bottles into the bottle bank – trying to erase the frustration of losing the deposit and the bottle of Nash’s red lemonade on her ‘B-O-T –tom’ that summer day long ago.