The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

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.

“It was $12, I think,” he said. “There’s not too many people like that anymore.”

Random requests

--- Sally Turner tells me she has a friend who worked at the 300 Room that was located in the Bowling Ball on East Main Street. She was wondering if anyone had any old photos or any other memorabilia from there so she can make a scrapbook for her friend as a gift.

----Jackie Briggs is interested in the recipe for strawberry shortcake that was sold in the late 1950s and early 1960s at Price’s Bakery that used to be on Main Street where Watson’s is now.

Briggs grew up in the neighborhood and remembers stopping at Price’s before going to school.

“It was the whipped cream that made it different,” she recalled. “It had a frosting-like whipped cream that had a firmness to it, like there was butter cream in it.

“It was called strawberry shortcake, but it was in a pie crust,” she said.

Briggs said a couple times she thought she had the recipe over the years, but it wasn’t the same as Price’s.

---  Linda Vacketta recalls that many years ago — 1957 or 1958 — Jocko’s Drive-In on Georgetown Road had a sandwich called Poor Boy’s Lunch.

“It was actually a hamburger with, I think, lettuce on it with some kind of sauce with the lettuce,” she said. “It was delicious. It also had French fries with it.”

Vacketta said she asked Steve Diveley about the sandwich since it was his dad who owned Jocko’s Drive-In, but he did not have a recipe for it.

“Those were the days,” Vacketta recalled. “We would have a poor boy’s lunch and play putt-putt behind the drive-in. It was a great place to take your family and have an enjoyable evening.”

-- Tim McBride, who works at Charlotte’s on North Gilbert Street, is looking for old menus from Danville restaurants that were around years ago — preferably the 1940s and 1950s — that were famous for a signature entrée. He is specifically interested in menus from The Brown Derby and Shields restaurants.

Carol Roehm is the education reporter. Contact her at 477-5174 or by e-mail at