Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Durham's Quality Beverages

The 299 Opine blog includes a posting about soda pop. That got me thinking – if I wanted my soda of choice, I'd have to get in a time machine and travel back to the 1940s and 1950s.

Durham's Bottle

I would visit Tuolumne County, California, and buy one of these. Durham's Bottling Works was my grandfather's company, located in Jamestown. The back of the bottle reads "Bottled in the Mother Lode with pure mountain water." The bottle is dated "1952."

That's the year that "High Noon" was released, which coincidently was filmed in Jamestown (the train depot) and nearby Columbia. So perhaps I'd drive on over to nearby Sonora and visit the local movie theater, buy a Durham's Quality Beverage and watch the Gary Cooper classic. A lot of the people in the audience would recognize themselves as extras.

Durham's Beverages.movieslide

Before the movie, this slide might be projected on the big screen. One quart of Durham's soda sure sounds delicious. It's hard to see in this photo, but there's a little kid shown on the bottle. That's my dad!

I imagine the soda business was a marginal enterprise. The real money was in beer.

Had my grandfather signed up to be a Budweiser distributor, I'd probably be living off a trust fund right now. Instead, he sold Acme beer and, at some point, Falstaff beer. There were probably a bunch of other beers in addition to these. He didn't get rich off it, but he made a living.

Acme Hat

Growing up, we had a case of these cloth hats worn by workers in the bottling plant. Seems like every kid that ever visited my house went home with one of these until we ran out after a few years. The Falstaff lighter rarely lights, no matter how much I mess with it.


Blogger Rose said...

That is so cool, Jack! I love those old bottles and signs.

9:12 PM  
Blogger gb05 said...

I think you meant "Falstaff" beer. Pabst discontinued the Falstaff brand in 2005.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

I meant to write "Falstaff," but for some reason I was thinking about Flagstaff.

On a hot day in Flagstaff it's nice to have a cold Falstaff.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Savage said...

Nice! And the nostalgia made me jones for a Cactus Cooler.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Robert Brown said...

I collect old soda bottles and recently found a Durham's Beverages bottle (1939) with a white painted label. Perhaps you can tell us more about your grandfather's bottling operation,I.E. when it was originated, etc.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Jack Durham said...

I believe he started the bottling plant in the early 1930s. Sometime in the late 1950s, or maybe early 1960s, someone took over the bottling plant, although my grandfather continued to own the land. Sometime in the 1970s, it became Nother Lode Recycling.

11:38 AM  

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