The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 7, 2012

Milk bottles have special meaning

In between all the phone calls and e-mails last month regarding Thompson Machine, a few e-mails and phone calls came in with different requests and memories.

One was from octogenarian Merle Long of Danville, whose father, William J. Long, had a dairy with 30 cows on North Daisy Lane at the turn of the last century.

“He delivered the milk by horse and wagon. He delivered milk clear on downtown,” Long recalled. “He had two wagons that he pulled with horses and mules until 1928, when he started using trucks.”

Long remembers his father sold 12 quarts of milk for $1, and eventually expanded his offerings to include cottage cheese and chocolate milk.

In the 1930s, Long said his father and “a bunch of other dairy owners went together and started Producers Dairy.”

Long, however, got out of the dairy business in 1959 after his father died.

But Long still has some old photos and milk bottles from his father’s dairy.

Two milk bottles — a quart size and a pint size — were made in 1918 at the old glass factory at the end of California Street. What’s unique about the bottles is that his father’s handwritten signature is in the glass on the bottles.

“He had 200 of the quart bottles and 100 of the pint bottles made in 1918,” Long said of his father.

Long acquired the quart-size bottle years ago from a water company worker.

“The water company dug the quart bottle out (while) putting in water service on Beard Street,” he said.

Long is interested in knowing if anyone remembers the glass factory.

“The glass factory was where Mervis is now. I don’t know when they went out,” he said. “I’d love to purchase more bottles for my kids.”

Although the dairy has been closed for 50 years, Long said, “I had a man pay a bill 25 to 30 years ago that he owed my dad from when my dad delivered milk to him and his three kids during the Depression and he didn’t have the money to pay him.

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