The Wisdom of the Bottle Caps

by Alden Cole on April 7, 2015 · 0 comments

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” – John W. Gardner (1912-2002)

2InPlace900Ever wonder where those one-liners I’ve been quoting come from? A number of them were printed on the inside of Elliott’s Amazing Apple Juice bottle-caps. I happened to save eighty-eight of those caps back in the mid-80s before I moved to Philadelphia in ’86. At the time I was still working for Weiser’s, although they had moved their publishing office from New York City to Cape Neddick, Maine about twenty-five miles south of where I had grown up in Dayton. Such a coincidence! By the time the office move happened in September/October 1980, I was technically living ‘back home’ in Maine, having already moved my belongings back to Dayton in June 1979. Long story short: I was planning to put my finances in order, then I was going to move to a commune in the high desert of Nevada, just across the Utah border, nearest town of any size, Baker. I was drawn to the commune’s austerity, beauty of locale, and remoteness, sitting on a flank of Mount Wheeler, with Mount Moriah across the valley miles away. But the draw to go there had complex emotional overtones which gave me second thoughts, so I never did get my finances in order, and move there. Instead, for the next year-plus I divided my time between NYC and Maine, spending most of the summer of ’79 playing house alone on a farmstead of 30 acres living in an old cape without running water or heat other than massive fireplaces, owned by cousin Emily Cole (1908-1990) who lived next door, a quarter mile away. This farm was a mile up the road from where mom and dad Cole lived, and where I continued to spend my nights, being a bit paranoid about sleeping in a house in the country all my lonesome – a fear I eventually got over. As autumn’s colder weather came on I started spending more time in NYC, thanks to the kindness of my good friend Harold Stover who had been sharing his apartment with me before I ‘moved’ out of NYC, and continued to put me up and put up with me during that period of transition when I still thought I might eventually move to Nevada. The year of traveling back and forth had some schizophrenic overtones but basically sanity prevailed. In the spring of ’80, Betty Lundsted Weiser announced that the publishing office was being relocated to York, Maine. I laughed incredulously and said I’d believe that when I saw it. But Betty was serious, and by September I had a full time job. Donald Weiser and myself, with invaluable assistance from office manager Jim Wasserman, spent work-weeks dealing with regular business, as well as packing up the NY warehouse, then driving to Maine Friday evening with a van load of books and household goods; returning to Manhattan Sunday afternoon for another week of business as usual. By the Ides of October the move was completed. My time living in Manhattan had come to an end. Thereafter I returned to my original status as tourist.

2BeautyShots900Anyway, while working for Weiser’s in their Cape Neddick, Maine location, one of our most convenient lunch spots was just up the road on Route 1, where I started picking up Elliott’s Amazing Apple Juice to go with lunch, and simultaneously started saving the bottle-caps which feature cleaver one-liners. A year ago I started transcribing the pithy quotables, one bottle-cap per day, into a Word document The Wisdom of the Bottle Caps. Last December I started incorporating select quotes into my Advent series emails, a habit I continue to the present. With the transcribing finished a few months ago, I figured it was time to either discard the actual caps, or do something creative with them. Like gluing them onto a damaged two-way mirror – a late winter assemblage project – with the results seen above. Below, my favorite quote from the series:

“Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.” – Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

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