Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bottle Traps

They were almost invisible. They may have startled you a bit if you tripped one. They'd be just about impossible to make today because plastic has replaced glass in so many things. What were they? We called them "Bottle Traps".

Bottle Traps were the result of bored imagination of your average everyday kid who had a lot of nights with nothing to do but to get a laugh whenever possible. We took a length of fishing line - (you remember our last use of it from Dave and the door knocker), tied one end to a glass soda bottle, the other end to a car door handle or whatever was available, and then placed the bottle on the top step in front of someone's home. And we always did it on Oregon Avenue because we knew there would be foot traffic.

It didn't take too long to wait, even later at night. Someone would soon ramble on down the street and trip the Bottle Trap. Most would soon realize what happened and shrug it off. Some would curse and look around to see if they could see who set the trap. We always concealed ourselves and never got caught.

Every so often, someone had to dispose of the Coke or whatever soda they drank earlier that night. The suggestion would then be to urinate in the bottle before setting the trap. Not a great suggestion if you're not the one doing the urinating and/or a cap isn't available for the bottle. We didn't do it too often, but it was one of those alternatives to change things up a bit.

The other alternative was bottle size. We mostly drank 16 oz. sodas in those days. We didn't have 20 ouncers then, and we didn't have as many bloated waist lines either in the neighborhood. But sometimes we found quart bottles lying around on a corner or in an alley and used them for a bigger shatter effect. More of a startle effect too.

Someone's going to read this and say, "hey, that's the jerk (or harsher expletive) who got me way back when!" Yeah, it probably was me and some of the other guys I hung around with here around 17th & Oregon. Get over it. It was the mid-70s, we've all changed since then. If you haven't, may I give you a little advice? Get on with life already!


...When soda bottle labels were painted on glass bottles.

... Foam labels that replaced the painted types. They lasted until the plastic bottles came in and thin plastic labels surrounded the bottles.

... When sizes were small compared to today's soda bottles. Before the late 70s, the biggest size was the quart soda. Then came the two litre bottles and bigger, heavier kids and more kids nationwide with diabetes because of obesity. Not diabetic because of the soda, but because of the amount consumed along with super-sized meals and big bags of chips and king sized chocolate bars. We lost moderation somewhere in the last couple decades.

... Brands of soda long gone, or at least not found around here in South Philly anymore. There was Orange Crush (not the REM song), Hires Root Beer (I think made by the same guys as Crush, Ma's Root Beer and other flavors, Frank's Sodas - the local favorites (Black Cherry Wishniak anyone? It's okay, Hank's makes it now.) TAB, the nasty diet soda disappeared, but it's now back as an energy drink. I won't try it, if it tastes as nasty now as it did then, I can do without that nostalgia. And we won't forget Booth's brand of soda, made famous by Doctor Shock and his Saturday night horror films on channel 17, advertising it at commercial time with his daughter "Bubbles".

... Collecting bottle caps. The only purposes they had were for playing dead box in the street, or taking up space in a cigar box in your room. Our boredom kicked in again around age 12 and we made bottle cap rifles out of a stud, nail, and rubber band, having wars with them. That was before someone told us we'd be damaged by playing with guns of the toy variety and before manufacturers had to put orange caps on the toy guns so that the police wouldn't mistake a kid pointing a toy from a real one. Oh yeah, the bottle caps. They were solid metal with a cork or plastic liner. They were called "crown corks" by some in earlier days, probably coming from the name of the company that produced them, Crown Cork & Seal (a Philly company, now called Crown Holdings).

... When soda bottles were shipped in wooden crates, not cardboard boxes with plastic over them.

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