2014 Morro Bay Bottle Show
San Luis Obispo Bottle Society
05 April 2014
I have always heard that the Morro Bay, California bottle show, put on by the San Luis Obispo Bottle Society, was an experience. This quaint show, in the shadow of Morro Rock is orchestrated by Webb Tartaglia, who has forty years of show experience as show chairman. Unfortunately, Morro Bay is a little out of the way for me in Houston, so I kind of set it aside and just wished I could go each year. Well I was finally able to go, though Elizabeth had to stay back and hold down the fort.
I flew in to LAX last Thursaday, a week ago, from Houston and connected on a puddle jumper to San Luis Obispo where my bottle friend Jerry Forbes (Big Sur coast) picked me up. As the weather was simply perfect, we headed up the coast to Monterey where we had lunch at this killer place called Sandbar & Grill which was embedded in the side of the pier and in the heart of all the docked sailboats. Both of us having an open-face, Dungeness crab, shrimp and avocado sandwich with killer bloodies kept our spirits high and our anticipation steady.
Next we walked to the Fisherman Wharf piers, near Cannery Row and were entertained by the California sea lions. We could have spent a couple of hours here.
Time was tight, so we passed on the famous Monterey Aquarium and opted to head for our quaint little hotel in Morro Bay overlooking the famous Morro Rock which is pictured at the top of the post. Some reference it as the ‘Gibraltar’ of the Pacific.
Next, on Thursday evening, Jerry and I headed up to Steve Mello’s house in Paso Robles for bottle viewing, a steak cook-out and local wine tasting with bottle friends accumulating for the two-day show that starts on Friday afternoon. Not a bad way to enjoy our first evening. Steve has beautiful bottles, many he has found by diving. I even picked up a killer, labeled Bissell’s Tonic Bitters that I was able to photograph as the sun set, I-phone in one hand, wine glass in the other.
On Friday morning, after a nice early morning jog along the bay, Jerry Forbes, Steve Bird (Los Alamitos) and myself had an early breakfast and headed over to the Morro Bay Veterans Hall where the show is held each year. We wanted to get there early to check out the action. My first photograph were these killer bottles from Pam and Randy Selenak (Orange) that I sat in a window to catch the later afternoon light.
One on my highlights of the show was meeting with Dave Kyle (Thousand Oaks) who had specifically brought two boxes of his favorite figural bitters to the show. We had been communicating for months via e-mail and boy was I anticipating this presentation. We looked at ten or so bottles Friday afternoon and the second box on Saturday. Setting up on an old, weathered picnic table within the show allowed us the perfect setting. Everybody was drooling. Read More: Dave Kyle and his Figural Bitters.
Four displays at the show caught my attention, the first being colorful hair bottles from the Selenak collection. Many of the bottles represented Mrs. Susan A. Allen and Allen Hair bottles. The second was Back Bar bottles and antique spigot handles displayed on a barrel by club chairman, Webb Tartaglia. The next display was labeled medicines by Brett Weathersbee (Atascadero). The super bottles were all set within a small glass cabinet. A real feast for the eyes. Lastly, I was able to review and photograph Food Product Jars from 1850 to 1900 by Chef Johnny Pol. Rather nice displays for a small show. All are pictured below.
OK, by this time, on late Thursday afternoon, we were all getting hungry and eager for the planned dealer cook-out and wine tasting hosted and orchestrated by club chairman, Webb Tartaglia. Home made sausage, 2″ thick monster steaks, veggie side dishes and dessert rounded out an incredible first afternoon for the show.
Saturday is the day for the public to attend the show. I spent most of the day looking at bottles, picking up a few bitters like my aqua Paradise Bitters (Read: Paradise Bitters from Fresno, California) from Lou Lambert and very whittled, pale yellow, Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic from Ken Edward (Sutter Creek). This was a Mike Henness bottle at one time. I also picked up a killer Pipafax from Doug Hansen (Palo Cedro) and a heavily whittled, Webb’s Improved Stomach Bitters from Jackson, Michigan (Read: Webb’s Improved Stomach Bitters – Jackson, Michigan). Not a bad haul for a small show. I also had a good meeting with Bill Ham to discuss the process and schedule for the planned Bitters Bottles Supplement 2.
I was able to walk the small room and adjoining outdoor table area and take a few pictures. Here is a gallery of some colorful folks that make up the show. My apologies for forgetting some of the names. Please help me if you can so I can update the captions.
After the show on Saturday, four of us headed up to Webb Tartaglia’s ranch and had a very spiritual wine tasting in Webb’s small cozy wine cellar. Read: Bottles Stories in a Wine Cellar.
What a fantastic show. I saved the BEST for last as I was finally going to go deep in the mountains between Carmel and Big Sur and visit my dear friends Jerry and Helen Forbes at their ‘tree house’. Here again, this was so special, I will dedicate a separate post. My hat is off to the San Luis Obispo Bottle Society and Webb Tartaglia. I will be returning, with Elizabeth.