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          Tongue River Winery         

                                      Quality Made Wines with fruit exclusively from the Northern Plains!  



Gathering Discarded Bottles

Posted on April 6, 2011 at 1:02 PM

It all began in 1958, when I was 10 years old, spying on lovers in parked cars nestled between trees and sand dunes fronting the beach of Bass Strait, at Ulverstone, Tasmania, Australia.  My mother, the native Aussie, had convinced Dad to move to Tasmania for a couple of years so she could reconnect with family, friends, haunts and memories in her homeland.

I was a young kid, and the beach was only 4 blocks from the house.  So sometimes on Friday nights, I'd drag my brother, Ron, along and go down to the Sand Dunes for an adrenaline rush.  We'd sneak up on a couple making out in a car, reach down and grab a handful of sand and fling it in the open window and run like bloody hell.  Of course my parents never knew!

Sometimes we got chased, but we knew the vine-covered trees like the backs of our hands and never got caught.  But just as often, a beer bottle would come flying out the window.  Now these were the large bottles, akin to our wine bottles, and somehow we discovered that a rather frightening character known to us only as Blind Pete made his living gathering and selling glass bottles, and he lived only about 5 blocks from the beach, just two blocks past the candy store near our house.  And we heard that he paid.  In cash.

So on Saturday mornings, my brother and I began to go down to the beach with gunny sacks, gathering beer, wine and champagne bottles from the clearings and dune areas, and when we'd gathered all we could find, or all we could haul, we'd walk over to Blind Pete's place and knock anxiously on his door, and watch spellbound as he came shuffling  outside with his cane moving back and forth, and then would examine our bottle booty entirely by feel, determining whether each bottle was worth anywhere between a hapenny or thripence, which was reserved for the heavier champagne bottles and then put them in the correct piles.

Ron and I would gather up the change he paid us and slip over to the candy store and stock up on licorice and Velvet Crumble bars, little knowing that someday, 50 years later, I'd again be gathering up wine bottles, but this time donating to Eastern Montana Industries, our adult disabled local recycling business, for the thousands of bottles we receive from them each year.

Life is a strange circle sometimes, eh?