Looking at Jars

When Sparky and I married, we bought our first home built in 1922. It had been owned by a HS shop teacher. When we took possession, the son had removed everything he wanted and left a boatload of other items. To our delight (well mostly Sparky’s), he left behind his father’s extensive collection of nuts, bolts, screws, nails, tacks, washers, brads, and assorted other items. All of them neatly sorted and stored in old glass jars. These treasures were located in the garage (lining all the walls and on every ledge) and in the basement where he had had his workshop. When we moved from that house to our current abode, Sparky dutifully packed up every one of those jars to bring to our new home. Over time we have consolidated jars to make room for more nails and screws. We have a ton of jars but instead of scattered around the garage or basement, they reside neatly in two large cabinets with drawers just the right size to accommodate the height of most of them. Those that are too tall are stored in a set of 4 school lockers positioned horizontally.

We had to tidy the garage. Sparky decided to organize his collection of jars. As he was sorting I noticed quite a few vintage jars. Jars that just might be worth a little money. He was not willing to part with them because there were no replacement containers. Still it was a little like a stroll down memory lane. I remember the French’s Mustard in the funny shaped glass pot. Mostly I remember the time my mother took the jar out of the refrigerator and it slipped out of her hand. The lid hadn’t been screwed on tightly and when it hit the floor mustard shot up and splatted on the relatively new kitchen carpet (a big deal in 1968). She was so worried that it would stain. It didn’t but the kitchen retained the stink of mustard for weeks! There were the Gerber Baby Food jars. I remember those as my great-grandmother lived on baby food in her later years – mostly the strained apricots and Blueberry Buckle. To this day I still remember those flavors but you can’t find them in the jars anymore – it is all very eco-unfriendly plastic squeeze pouches!

Among the other jars were lots of Welch’s jelly jars (no doubt grape), Maxwell House Instant Coffee (not my parents’ favorite but a quick alternative when they were in a hurry), and Vaseline jars that are so old that they have an actual screw on lid instead of the snap on kind. Some of the jars are foreign to me, like the Dromedary Fire Roasted Pimentos. And some are very familiar like the variety of pickle jars that after nearly 100 years still smell like pickles! Are there any jars that bring back memories for you?

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64 thoughts on “Looking at Jars

  1. Jars! Treasure troves! And I totally get the leftover smell of pickles. No matter how much time has past, that distinctive smell remains… I love old jars. They were made to last forever, to be filled, refilled again and again. I got very sentimental when visiting my parents’ house after mum died, seeing row upon row of peach jam jars in the cellar. The last jam made by her, in the summer of 2018, when she was ill, but still just well enough to make jam with the peaches from the garden.

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    1. I remember my mother and grandmother making jelly – apple, apple-raspberry, and raspberry-beet (it is for the color as the beets didn’t have much flavor). They would use almost any jar as long as it had a lid (and hadn’t been used for pickles). They would melt paraffin and top the jars instead of having to have the canning lids and processing them… Memories. I’m so pleased that you love old jars!! I thought I was probably the last person on the planet to have any in my house!

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  2. I love this jar of memories:)
    This time of the year, we get baby mangoes…raw, sour, tender…and my grandmother (and other food keepers) would pickle them in huge traditional jars.
    Thank you for the write! Loved it!

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  3. Any jar that’s the same chalky blue that liquid Milk of Magnesia used to come in brings back very unpleasant memories. Yuck!

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    1. Hehe! If the neck of the bottle had been wide enough I’m sure we’d have one in the “collection”. I always thought the color of the glass was beautiful – to disguise the nasty within!! (we always had a bottle in the medicine cabinet with the Pepto Bismol). I feel the same about Pepto-Bismol as you do Milk of Magnesia!

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    1. I was never ambitious enough to make my own. Son#2 hated all baby food. If he couldn’t pick it up he wanted no part of it! We went straight from the bottle to diced veggies from our plates… such a difference from son#1 who wanted it shoveled into his mouth as fast as he could swallow! But I still have some of those jars – one in my sewing kit to hold straight pins (the little plastic boxes always broke!!

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        1. Hehe! We were lulled into a false sense of success with the first one – sleeping through the night by 5 weeks, not a big cryer – only when wet or hungry. Then son#2 came. He cried non-stop for 12 months, didn’t sleep through the night until he was nearly 3 and was a very picky eater… He convinced Sparky that 2 was enough after initially wanting a big family!!

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  4. my fathers collection of bits in jars would have rivaled Sparky’s … vegimite jars are real favourites coz they now pack it in plastic jars or tubes. I reckon it doesn’t taste the same πŸ™‚

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      1. often quite ghastly in fact πŸ™‚ I certainly recycle my glass jars many times over. Brothers mate collected and sold old glass bottles. They apparently can be collectors items πŸ™‚

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        1. Exactly! I looked a couple up online and there is definitely a market for any that still have the labels intact and the original lids (which we have many). But Sparky is not giving them up since there are so few items still in the glass jars. I actually purchased some pesto because it was in glass and the right size for reuse!

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  5. Considering how ubiquitous plastic has become, I’m finding it almost impossible to buy stuff in glass. My partner is convinced that mankind is poisoning himself with plastics and when I see fertility rates dropping every year and man boobs on young men, I fear there’s something to it. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, but I do what I can to buy glass…if only to provide future generation with the same pleasure that you and Sparky are enjoying today.

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    1. I have a feeling that my sons will inherit (and possibly haggle over) the jars with all the assorted nails, screws, etc. All the peanut butter is now in plastic but I can still find almond butter and cashew butter in glass (but the price!)…

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  6. I remember Gerber baby food bottles. I didn’t realize the pickle jars would still retain the smell – maybe the smell is from the lid? I used to keep a few glass jars around in case I need them but I never did. I just keep one now.

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            1. That’s where I found lots of them too. Then when I decided to stop canning peaches and making jam, I sold them at the garage sale – an Amish family bought every last one!

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    1. Always nice when a tradition is carried on from generation to generation! We all have stoneware crocks that my mother had – my father made brandy in them! (though that is not their purpose now)

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  7. Your post was a trip down memory lane for me! I remember jelly jars with Flintstone characters on them, which we used for drinking glasses after all the jelly was gone. And the baby food jars were the perfect size for storing screws, etc, once the food was eaten. Given what we now know about plastic and the environment, I’m still shocked that most baby food now comes in plastic pouches. Whose idea was that? Glass can be recycled, plastic can’t.

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    1. Oh we several full sets of the jelly jars as glasses! We had the Peanuts glasses (everyone wanted the Snoopy glass) and Winnie the Pooh too. My dad was a big Bugs Bunny fan so instead of the whole set we just had a bunch with Bugs Bunny on them. I still don’t understand why they switched to the plastic disposable pouch for baby food…

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  8. Hi my husband also has a passion for jars full of bits and bobs, must be a man thing. The only jar well bottle really that brings back memories is Camp coffee as this was what my nan always used – but the taste was vile 😊

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    1. Hehe! I’d never heard of it – must be a UK thing… I looked it up and it sounds awful (but then I don’t like coffee of any type)! As for the jars of nuts and bolts I think it is the male equivalent or the button jar!

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  9. I recall all manner of commercial jars. Nowadays, I keep bell jars and other canning jars, though I am not inclined to can vegetables and fruit. They make excellent storage vessels for excess coffee and other perishables.

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