Recently I went to Metro Parks in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Heading to the park I passed a spot on the Chagrin River that was an old dump. Years ago there was no public trash pick up so people would find a ravine or a river to throw their refuse, this way the river would carry the trash away.
My good friend Walt had found this particular dump while walking along the river bank when he noticed old bottles sticking out of it, this has to be going on at least 10 years maybe more. Walt returned a few weeks later with me and we dug up all kinds of bottles, soda, milk, perfume and an occasional piece of broken pottery and silverware. This dump was from about the late 20’s to early 30’s. We were able to date it from a few bottles that had the year embossed on them. After that first dig I went back numerous times and each hunt was successful.
I remember on one bottle hunt at this spot I brought Gary, another friend, and my faithful hound dog Bo along. Actually I sprung it on Gary, he wasn’t into searching for old junk as he would call it. Leaving the place I got us totally lost having no clue where the path was. Its a real jungle with all those plants and pricker bushes. We went to the left, to the right all the while Gary complaining his legs were getting scratched and cut and Bo tugging furiously on his leash. I yelled at Bo because this was not like him. Finally I got fed up and told him OK then you lead. Well let me tell you, I never doubted Bo after that. He put his nose down, started sniffing away and had us out of there in no time. Poor guy, I was yelling at him and all he was trying to do was help.
In subsequent hunts after that the finds became scarcer and scarcer and thought we had picked it clean. We must of dug into that bank at least 6 feet in by about 8 feet across. That was about two years ago but in this last visit I discovered there is still old bottles to be had! Through the change of seasons and erosion more bottles surfaced. Even more amazing than that is how short of a walk it really is to the river bank. When Walt first found it there was a path to the river but the park system moved the parking lot back and let the place grow wild which made locating this exact spot even more difficult. What seemed like a hike through the Amazon was actually only about a short 30 yard walk if that to the rivers edge. I was very disgusted though because what made it easy to find was that the place was cleared of all vegetation, then I suddenly realized, DUH, its still early spring and nothing has grown back yet.
I only stayed a short time because I wasn’t prepared with shovels or bags but quickly found two old pop bottles. One was called “DELICIOUS” and the other “BIG EAGLE”. Delicious is almost shaped like a “Heinz” ketchup bottle. They were bottled in Cleveland, Ohio and oddly they are both 9 ounces.. The glass on these bottles is so thick. It makes me laugh to think of the old movies where they show a fight and a bottle gets broken over someones head. Yeah right! If you tried that with these bottles you’d kill the person and no way would the bottle break.
I got to wondering about these old bottles, what flavor were they, was it a treat for some family or child, what kind of store sold them, why did they go out of business. I asked Dad if he remembered these brands. He had no recollection other than their factory was probably located downtown somewhere. Our conversation went on to other beverages of yesteryear. Dad said one of his favorites was an orange drink called Bireley’s Orange Soda. And of course pop tastes better in glass bottles. For beers his preferred choice was Ballantine. He also mentioned Cleveland brewed beers such as Leisy’s and Erin Brew. As with many other types of businesses the family or privately owned beverage company is getting harder and harder to find, even though there are some microbreweries around that make excellent beer.
I went on the Internet to research these two bottles. I wasn’t able to find anything on the “Delicious Beverage Company” but was able to on the “Double Eagle Bottling Company”. Double Eagle began production in 1909 on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio and ceased production in 1959.
If you remember either one of these pops or if this short story jogs your memory of a favorite soft drink or beer of years ago post a comment, I would love to hear about it.
Carey K. Masci