I lost my oldest friend Ed Bartos


Ed Bartos photo_B:WOn January 9, 2014, I lost my oldest friend and the man that started me into the wonderful hobby of old bottles. Edward C. Bartos of Richmondville, NY passed away at a young age of 66. Ed has left behind a wife of 43 years (Terry) and three great children (Denise, Jerimy and Eddy).

One of the biggest questions everyone asks today is how we can get younger people involved in the hobby? With this in mind I will share this story.

I was a 13 year old kid who’s parents had split up and I was being raised by my mom. My father would stop and see me once in a while and our interests were different. He liked hunting and fishing, I was into sports like basketball and track. I had problems in school doing my home work and always just got by. Science was a class I did not like and always had issues passing. Enter Mr. Bartos my 7th grade science teacher.

Back then, the Cobleskill School system would offer what they called 9th period extra courses. They could be about almost anything. Mr. Bartos, the name I called him for almost 10 years, offered collecting old bottles. Now at the time I could have cared less about old bottles but thought to myself it would be a good way to get on Mr. Bartos’s good side, couldn’t hurt right? Well two amazing things happened, first I found it very interesting due to Mr. Bartos’s teaching style and his true love of the hobby. The second thing that happened is that I found a life long friend of almost 44 years. I will never forget the day he gave me a ‘D’ on my homework. He told me I better step it up and work harder if I wanted to go digging. Many times after that he would remind that hard work was the only way to get things done.

For my last 4 years of school, I held an average of over 95 and left school a half year early because I had enough credits. For the first 6 to 8 years of our friendship we spent a lot of time together including summers digging old bottles and going to bottle shows. Mr Bartos paid my way in to the famous Charlie Gardner sale which cost $100 for a ticket. I still have the old photos I took that day. I remember Mr. Bartos telling me don’t touch. I almost listened until I saw an aqua Washington shaped bottle that I just had to hold. Today we know it as a Washington Centennial Bitters. Mr. Bartos bought an Emerald Green Albany Glass Works pint flask that day. I have never seen another to this day. He knew his bottles and would always say,”knowlege is king”. Funny thing, one of my current friends told me the same thing the second time we got together. Ed found one of the first Celery Green Drakes Plantations. Then there was the light Puce Pink soda that was found in a chicken house (still sets on Jim Halls shelf where it has been for 30 years or so). One of my personal favorites is the Amber Quart Sharon Sulphur Water that Dick Watson has in his collection. It is the only one known to this day.

As the years past, Ed and Terry got married and formed a fantastic family. I got in my early twenties and did a lot running around on my own. I would see Ed a name I finally realized I could use at shows and we would get together now and then and go picking. Ed got more and more into antiques in general but still would turn up some very rare bottles. Ed collected many different types of bottles over the years. He built great collections in bitters, sodas and mineral waters. He would build a collection as good as he could and then sell it and start something else.This is something I myself have also done over the years. The last 15 years or so of our friendship was mainly phone calls. I was busy running the Lumber Mill in Cobleskill and Ed had been in a bad car wreck which really effected him. He was always in pain of some kind and his drive was no where near were it was. We bought a small collection about 5 years ago of a bunch of lesser bottles. Ed was so happy that he found it and the day we bought it I knew it was a mistake but I did not care. It was a flash back to the good old days of traveling with Mr Bartos. I took the bottles and Ed took the stoneware to give his son to set around his house. I never did get my money back really but I would jump in the car and do it all again if we could. That day was Mr.Bartos and James on a bottle run. Everyone who knows me today calls me Jim, a name I like much better. Ed made it regular business to call me James, a name I never really liked. It was our own little joke. The last time I called him or he called me I don’t remember he ended the call by saying I’m getting tired Jim. I never really thought much about it until I learned of his death.

So the next time you are wondering how can we get the younger people involved in the hobby my answer is to build a friendship first and the rest will come easy.

I will miss my friend yet I know that part of him lives on in me. I always respected Ed and he always respected me. The old bottles I have sitting on the shelves will always be a reminder of him. Bye Ed!

James Bender