Monday, 20 July 2009

Bottle Mail

Recently, I've been emptying the old house's attic. It's a long business.

There are numerous letters from a hundred years ago, hand-written in ink and sent from neighbouring islands as well as across the Atlantic. One must read them, of course.

Then there are ice skates. Old blades, hand-smithed, that were attached to the shoes. There are decoy duck holders, fabric meters, shoes, oil lamps and a geography book from 1905.

And there are bottles. Old medicine bottles, lemonade bottles, whisky bottles, pressed apple juice bottles. There is a bottle that still contains a drop of "all-purpose-oil" that suited boots and sewing machines alike. There is a bottle of "Sloan's Liniment" complete with an instruction leaflet. There is a fish-liver oil bottle bearing a hand-written label from Korpo Apotek.

Old bottles make a beautiful collection. But when there are 200 bottles? Even more?
I'm not finished with that attic yet.

Those letters, naturally they include love letters. There is a certain young lady who has received ardent confessions from a total of four suitors during 1920's. She was born in what is now my older house and thought best to leave her collection buried in the layers of sawdust under the attic floor.

Two of her admirers were sailors and have sent their sentiments across oceans. One particular admirer, Johannes, seems to be sorry for having gone a bit too far in their last meeting but promises to take responsibility for what may come after. "But", he says, "no need to worry", he doesn't think there is any reason to.(!)
I blushed reading these lines!
In Johannes's next letter, a few months later, he laments not having heard anything from his sweetheart. "You must have found another one", he concludes with a broken heart. Little does he know she has three other ones!
Later, she married one of the sailors.


Vanhan talon ullakon tyhjennys on hidasta puuhaa. Pulloja löytyy - likööri-, omenamehu-, lääke- ja öljypulloja. Löytyy kalanmaksaöljypullo, jossa on käsin musteella kirjoitettu etiketti Korppoon apteekista. Löytyy vaatteita, kirjeitä, luistimia, sorvitalttaa, kangaspuiden osia ja vanhoja koulukirjoja.

Pullot ovat niin kauniita, että liotan niistä liat pois ja sitten vielä pesen kunnolla. Harvoissa nimittäin on mitään etikettiä jäljellä. Ja moneen vanhaan pulloon on kirjoitettu kohokirjaimin mitä se sisältää: Singer ompelukoneöljyä, Samarinia, Kuopion mesimarja-likööriä. Niistä tulee kaunis kokoelma, kun vielä keksii mihin se mahtuu.

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