Friday, November 25, 2005

How did all of this really begin?

My earliest memories carry me back to about 1951 or 52 when dad and I took trips together. In those days we just slept in the car. Him in the front seat and me in the back. Eventually we both became scavengers. In our travels we would find old dumps which were just filled with material which had been cast off as junk. Dad finally focused on looking for old bottles. He collected for about twenty years and was very successful. All of his trips were painstakingly documented. I still have all of his old maps which are clearly marked with pencil.

Around 1963 I found other interests, girls and cars. Then in 1964, four years of military. Two years after the military I wandered up into the Mojave Desert, my old stomping ground. I found a job, a wife, and eventually three boys. As a family we did pretty much the same thing my dad and I had done.

At age 50 my place was littered with material some of which was a hundred or more years old. I had a building full of it. For me the turn around came after visiting my parents one week end. Dad had put all his old bottles in trash cans and he had about lost all interest in all the things he had collected. He ended up giving me what he had. Well between what he had given me and what I had amassed over the years it all at once became overwhelming.

One thing kind of stuck in my craw that weekend when pulling those bottles out of trash cans. Dad had no way of displaying or sharing what he had found. His interest lay in only the challenge of locating and the collecting. Once a person has collected the interest that lays in just posessing usually will fade. One day I put some of the bottles on a wooden post similiar to an old place which was called hula-ville. The next morning when the sun rose I was hooked. The light of the sun intensified the brilliance of the colors in the bottles. I had only put up six or seven of these things when it came to me. Now I had a place to put every dammed thing I had ever collected.

One day I looked out front and someone was photographing. At the age of 55 I retired so that all my time could be devoted to this project. I have met and communicated with hundreds of people from all over the world. Not bad for a kid who started out sleeping in the back seat of a car. Later I'll post some stories.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elmer,
We met you Dec 30th '06' and are so inspired by your story. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. You have brought to life a dream of mine which is to create found art sculpture somewhere, maybe in the desert!?!
Lucinda, Kern, Alan

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Post some old stories!!!
Lucinda

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elmer!
Kelly and Steph here--we stopped at your fabulous Bottle Garden last Sunday. Thanks for showing us around, and we hope your garden is growing well. We need you to solve a mystery for us though. Were you ever an avid frisbee player? Word on the grapevine says you were. Do tell.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Penny Sanford Fikes said...

Could you stop by my two Flickr photos of a bottle tree in Laurel, Mississippi? I've been asked some questions I have NO WAY of answering re: bottle trees.

The two photos are here and here.

8:38 PM  

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