by Lisa Tome
Much of Mark Barczewski's family history can be found on milk bottles.
Barczewski's family is rooted in farming. And he's uncovered a great deal of family background through his and wife April's vast milk bottle collection.
April has been collecting milk bottles since she was eight years old - more than 30 years. Her collection includes mainly bottles from the Eastern Shore. She grew up in a farm family and the collection was a natural for her. Mark also has Ag roots. Mark's collection includes many from West End Dairies of Wilmington, Delaware. Those milk bottles show a lot about Mark's family's history of Polish immigrants and their work as dairy farmers.
Both work in the education field - Mark with the school system and April with Maryland Extension and 4-H. "This is a good way for us to educate ourselves," Mark said. They've also learned a great deal of local history. During the home dairy delivery heyday, there were about 45 Cecil dairies producing milk bottles.
Holly Hall was the dairy where Big Elk Mall is currently located. The history is somewhat recent. The bottles were mostly produced beginning in the 1930s. With vast amounts being with the 1950s and 60s.
They've merged their collection and their family and have passed their collecting onto daughter Ella, 4, who has her own growing collection of milk bottles. It's still too early for their infant daughter, Lily, to become a serious collector. "You can own a piece of your local history for not a lot of money," April said.
They also joined the Tri-State Bottle Club about five years ago. "We collected bottles before we joined the club," they said. The club meets about six times per year. The internet has also changed bottle collecting. It's easier to find specific bottles that you're seeking.
The Barczewskis will be just some of those who will be part of the 45th annual Antique Bottle and Collectibles Show and Sale. The event will be held on Sunday, November 5 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Singerly Fire Hall, Routes 213 and 279, Elkton. Admission fee is $3. Children under 12 are admitted free.
The show will feature about 55 vendors with 80 tables. There will be opportunities to buy, sell, and trade milk bottles and other collectibles.