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Middletown, New Jersey
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James Dews

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James Dews


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About AntiqueButtonsnGlass

Sales 1,596
On Etsy since 2016

Pictures of a recent privy I dug. It was loaded with Drake's Plantation Bitter's.

This was a tough pit to locate. It was under a broken up asphalt driveway on a recently demolished house lot. Lots of debris blocked the path of the probe. Once found, it took some effort to shovel through the top two feet of brick, rock, and broken asphalt. A grey ash layer with some wayward 1890's medicines soon followed. Inside this layer was an enormous sewer pipe network, from when the first inside bathroom was connected to this privy. It took up most of the front half of the outhouse. I shoveled the ash down, in the back half, until I hit the water table. At this time I had to start bailing the privy. I carefully pitch forked a circular hole in the back left corner and shoveled out the dirt. Once the hole was large enough I bailed 5-gallon buckets of water. I followed this procedure shoveling out most of the ash layer. When a rush of seeds floated to the top of the bail hole and that sweet smell hit my nose I knew I had hit the occupation layer. I took off a sloppy glove and shoved my arm down in the muck. I felt around and brushed the long neck of a bottle. I grabbed it and pulled it right out of the muck. I was holding a Drake's Plantation Bitters. I said Holy cow. I put it down, shoved my arm back into the muck and felt around and there was another one. I worked all the muck around it away and pulled out another Drake's Plantation Bitter's. I wrapped the two drakes, then stuck my arm back into the hole and really felt all around. I felt the neck and ribs of a Drake's, right up against it was another Drake's, a couple inches to the side was the neck of another Drake's. I pulled my arm out and said Holy cow for the second time. Now I was starting to get excited. I bailed some more water out of the hole. Back in went my arm, soon after out came the third Drake's. Followed closely by the fourth and then the fifth. I wrapped them and then climbed back into the pit. I reached down into the hole and felt around, there were Drake's wedged one on top of the other. There were broken ones mixed in as well and my hand came out dripping blood. Damn, I will have to be more careful. I decided to open the pit up more so I could get to the Drake's easier with out damage to myself or the bottles. I shoveled out the last of the ash layer in the back half of the pit. I used my digging stick to clear the bail hole and bailed buckets of water. Then it was left arm in the muck time. Back in it went. I felt around and worked out the next Drake's. By this point each one went right up to the sun and it was color and crack check. I was looking for puce, yellow, and green. I already had amber and was looking for the next. I quickly had five more Drake's lined up inside the hole. I climbed out of the pit and got my camera so I could take a picture. I now had ten Drake's. Damn. I texted pictures to my wife and friend John to keep them posted. Back in the pit I went. I continued bailing and shoveling muck. I slowly worked my way along the back half of the pit. The going was slow as I dug the layer predominately with my left bare hand. The layer was always totally under water and filled with muck. The Drake's were both in pockets or by themselves. Each one I dug I held up to the sun. A couple nice yellow Drake's saw the light of day. Dozens of broken Drake's were also uncovered. The one I still remember was a beautiful yellow green. A large piece of slate foot stone used it as its resting place and it was broken in several pieces. It was extraordinary. After the back half of the privy was carefully cleaned out I had amassed a pile of twenty Drake's Plantation Bitters, one Hostetter's Bitters, and an Allan's anti fat. I now turned my attention to the front half of the pit. This half was mostly under the sewer pipe network. I quickly uncovered two Drake's lying right next to each other and I stopped to take a picture before I removed them. I then worked at removing the layer in the front left corner of the privy as the sewer pipes missed this area. This was the last hot spot of the pit. Drake's were stacked like cord wood. Using my digging stick and left hand I carefully worked my way through them. Each whole one was pinned in by several broken in place around it. I pulled several great yellow Drake's out of this corner when I saw a giant disc lip staring at me. I must admit I got super excited. All I was finding was Drake's and this was something new. I know, I am horrible. I immediately thought barrel bitters. I reached my hand in and felt along the side and felt it was a giant rectangular bottle. It was wedged in between whole and broken Drake's. I carefully worked out a couple Drake's and slide out the bottle. It was a perfect Constitutional Beverage. It is a yellow olive with a touch of amber color. You can see it in the group picture in the back right. Upon finishing this corner the pile of Drake's Plantation Bitters outside the pit was now thirty one. I broke my back under cutting the sewer pipes and finished digging out the rest of the pit. One last Drake's was found, bringing the total number of Drake's recovered to thirty two. After a 5 minute rest break I began the two hour task of filling the pit back in. I took pictures of the Drake's piled up outside the pit, on my deck before I washed them, and after I washed them on my kitchen table. :) Hope you enjoyed the adventure and the pictures, Jim

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