Blogging was not really something I ever thought I would be doing as part of a job, much less while working in a museum, but I have found that here at the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas, everyone does all that they can to keep the museum running smoothly. I am a Baylor graduate with a degree in History. (By the way, the name is Charlie.) Knowing that I did not want to pursue a job teaching school, I began to look at other fields in which this degree could be used or have some impact and decided I would see what working at a museum is like. Near the end of my last semester at Baylor, I decided to apply to be a volunteer at the museum and started helping out on a consistent basis in January. During that time as a volunteer, I helped work on several projects such as entering donated items into our database, giving tours, and helping with the set up of our Dr Pepper and Sports and Toy Tech exhibits.
In April my duties became more focused when I was hired as a part time employee to work on cataloging a collection of 568 glass applied color label bottles called the Loesch Bottle Collection. Applied Color Labels (ACL) first started being used in the 1930s as a way to add color that would be permanently adhered to the bottle unlike the previous paper labels. ACLs became a very common and popular form of making the soda bottle look more appealing. It is called the Loesch Bottle Collection because the man who gathered the collection was named James Loesch. If 568 sounds like a lot of glass bottles…well you would be right. A previous worker had cataloged about seventy of the bottles, but they were in a random order. I decided in the end that this would not do and began to reorganize the entire collection alphabetically.
To begin sorting the collection, I gathered all the bottles that began with the same letter (in a process much like Easter egg hunting) into a box and took them back to my worktable. Here I entered in the measurements, a description, and the condition of the bottle into a computer system called PastPerfect. I also gave the bottles their own unique identification number. Next, I would use a substance called Acryloid B-72 (think nail polish) to put a thin strip on the bottom of the bottle to safely write the id number on the bottle. From here I took pictures of the bottle to help identify it in PastPerfect and to help any future person who wanted to find the bottle know what it looks like. Finally, I put the bottles on the shelf in their numerical and now alphabetical order and looked for the next set. Each group I was able to put back on the shelf organized made the search for the next set of bottles I needed easier.
Personally I found this project and the Loesch Bottle Collection to be very interesting. Some of the bottles were over sixty years old and most of them were brands of soda that are very hard to find or do not even exist any more. One of the brands of soda that sparked an interest to me was the Boylan brand of soda. I have some relatives with Boylan as a last name and while it did not appear there was any relation, it did make me curious enough to ask. Another soda brand I liked was Red Bird. As can be seen on the picture, the main symbol for this beverage is a cardinal and the St. Louis Cardinals happen to be my favorite baseball team. Here is to hoping the Milwaukee Brewers go on a losing streak. Some of what James Loesch focused on when building his collection was finding soft drinks that had American Indian names and origins. Being a history major and one that likes American history, I thought it was interesting to see American Indians portrayed on soft drink bottles.
At this point I have likely rambled on far too long, so thanks for reading and if you need me, I will be knee deep in the next box of objects.