The November General Meeting of the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert will take place one week earlier than its usual third week of the month due to Thanksgiving. On Tuesday, November 14, at 7 p.m., at 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd., guest speaker Tom Chapman will discuss the fascinating subject of the Bottles of Bodie and the Eastern Sierra.
Tom Chapman, a long-time friend of the Society, has published the second edition of his book, Antique Bottles of Bodie and Eastern California. Chapman’s book begins in the ghost town of Bodie, which in 1880, was home to the first local merchant of embossed bottles in Eastern California. The town of Bishop would follow in this business in 1888. His book covers the area of the Eastern Sierra from Bodie down to Inyokern and Ridgecrest. In his presentation, Chapman will share the history of the various druggists, brewers, soda pop bottlers, and dairies who produced their own bottles over the years, including Ridgecrest’s local Crum Brothers Dairy. He will also explain the various ways bottles have been manufactured and labeled over the years information that can be used to determine the date of production.
Born and raised in Ridgecrest, Chapman’s love of the outdoors and Western history was kindled by his father, who, for many years, took his son on various trips to explore the old mining sites located on the east side of the Sierra. These journeys often ended with a visit to Bodie.
After graduating in Mathematics from California State University in Long Beach, Chapman returned to his hometown to work at the China Lake Naval Weapons Center for 40 years. At the same time, he operated the Bodie Coin Company. This business afforded him the opportunity to buy or trade other artifacts such as tokens, bottles, photos, papers, and antiques. One of his finds was Jane Thomann’s manuscript memoir of her days as the Little Lake postmistress. Chapman granted the Society the right to publish and distribute The Zig Zag Post Office and Its Neighbors, which is still available for sale at the HSUMD Book Shop.
Except for this month of November (and the months of July and August), the HSUMD meets on the third Tuesday. Each meeting will discuss some interesting aspects of local history. The meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, call 760-375-8456 during Book Shop hours: Wed. thru Sat. 11 to 3 p.m.