You can take the GRITS out of Florida, but you can't take Florida out of the GRITS!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Treasure in the Hammock

I found these old bottles out in one of the hammocks where I work.

My first thought was "Why in the hell would there be an old Clorox bottle in the middle of the woods?"
Clorox bottle, circa 1945-1950
But after thinking about it, I came up with this idea...

Moonshiners probably kept any and every bottle they could find to use for their 'shine. Plus, a Clorox bottle might have been a good disguise!

And it's a fact that there were more than one old still on our property.

I used to think a screw-top was a dead giveaway that the bottle wasn't old, but after doing some research, have found that's not necessarily true. So from now on, I plan on doing at least one off-trail walk in our hammocks every week to see what other "treasure" I can find!


Sayre said...

Those bottles are really cool! Are you going to clean them up or leave them as-is?

SwampAngel65 said...

I tried to clean some yesterday. Not an easy task! I think I'll need to let some bleach sit in them overnight to see if it helps break some of the caked up dirt inside.

scg said...

Wow, that is so cool. I envy your job!


Steve said...

Hey, congratulations on the cool find. One helpful item when cleaning old bottles is tartar control toothpaste. Gently brushing the surface, inside and out, can remove much of the opaque buildup. The trick is finding a brush long enough and flexible enough to reach all the interior sectors. After removing all loose material (dirt and leaves), try the toothepaste. It might not remove all the buildup, but it's a good place to start, and less caustic than strong cleaners. I don't know if the corrosion on your bottles is too far along for toothpaste to help, or not. I have also used Efferdent or Polydent, but I don't remember the results being as impressive as hoped.

lisa marie said...

Ok, what is a hammock? I guess it wasn't the swing thing you lay in so it's like a swampy area? Wooded area? The bottles are cool!

SwampAngel65 said...

Thanks for the tip, Steve! I've never heard of that before, but will definitely give it a shot!

Lisa...we have two kinds of hammocks down here. The swing between two trees (my personal favorite) and ones that are areas of specific trees that grow in a somewhat limited space. Hardwood hammocks down here are areas full of trees like mahoganies, gumbo limbos, and smaller ones like tetrazygia, poisonwood, wild coffee, lancewood, etc. I know...TMI, but now you know when I talk about a hammock, that's what I mean!

Heather said...

fYou know, with the "speakeasies" in Stiltsville during prohibition, it's entirely possible this was moonshining equipment.

Try soaking in vinegar to remove the scum. Another option for the narrow neck bottles is an instrument snake. Brass instruments use a coiled snake with bristles on the end to clean out the tubes.

SwampAngel65 said...

Yes, there were supposedly a couple old stills on the property. Haven't found any remnants of those yet.

And thanks for another good tip, Heather! You know I have access to one of those instrument cleaning thingies!

Laura McIntyre said...

How interesting and cool, i never find anything like that

Floridacracker said...

I have hundreds of old bottles I've pulled from the marshes. Mine date from the late 1700's although most are mid-1800's.

You are correct about the screw top not ruling out oldness. Screwtops came out in the late 1800's but were not common. I like pre-1900's bottles, but as time goes by, even mid-1900's bottles become collectible.
The automatic bottle machine came out in the early 1900's and it leaves a telltale roundish mark on the bottom of bottles made after 1908.

If you did some research you probably found sites that show how the neck seam and presence of bubbles can be used to date bottles.

Yours all look mid-1900's as you noted in your post.

For cleaning the inside of the bottles, pour in some bb's and a good strong detergent solution. Then plug the end and shake, rattle, and roll. The rolling bb's and soap will really clean the inside scum off the glass.