This article appeared in the Standard-Times of New Bedford, Massachusetts, on 3/7/05,
Page A1, main news/cover; Copyright 2005 by Beth David

Time & a bottle
Coincidence brings antique back to Tripp Dairy family

Standard-Times correspondent

There's not much left of the old A.H. Tripp Dairy Farm in Westport besides the memories.

The name changed 30 years ago, the original house has been flattened, and the land has mostly been sold off.

But a chance meeting at New Bedford Rehabilitation Hospital brought a bit of the old farm home.

Edna Tripp of Westport and Barbara Lambert of Portsmouth, R.I., share a room. One night, when the two women and their husbands, Russell Tripp and Jay Lambert, were talking, Jay remembered something.

"I said, 'Ooh, we have this bottle from Tripp Dairy Farm,'" recalled Mr. Lambert.

Mrs. Lambert had been digging a garden when she came across the bottle. It was obviously very old and a curiosity. So the Lamberts put it on a shelf. Then forgot about it for 10 years or so.

"You just look at the bottle and you know it's old," said Mr. Lambert. "We thought we'd keep it if it survived all these years."

It turns out that the bottle goes all the way back to Russell Tripp's grandfather, Alexander Howard Tripp, who died 82 years ago.

"It's sort of a strange coincidence," said Mr. Lambert. "It's just dumb luck this one happened to be buried away and not broken."

So Mr. Lambert gave it to the Tripps. "I was amazed that anyone who had that bottle would be willing to give it away," said Mr. Tripp, who worked the family farm.

"We had no connection to it," said Mr. Lambert. "If I gave it to my kids they'd say 'Oh, why do I have a bottle with the name Tripp on it?'"

So now the Tripps have another family story to tell at their yearly gatherings. Along with the tales of rubber shoes on the horses to muffle the "clop, clop, clop" in the early morning hours, they'll tell the story of the A.H. Tripp Dairy Farm bottle that got buried in Portsmouth, R.I., and found its way home to the beloved Westport Turnips of Mr. Tripp's youth.

The bottle is also a welcome addition to Mrs. Tripp's collection of dairy farm paraphernalia. She has a "vast collection" of cows (not real ones), and a growing collection of bottles from local dairy farms, including some from the old Tripp Farm. But she didn't have anything like this one.

"I'm thrilled to pieces about it because it is different," said Mrs. Tripp. "It's fascinating how it got to Portsmouth. In other words, the bottle found its way home."

Mr. Tripp said the bottle could be one of the very first ever made for the farm because of the "very, very thick glass.

"You just don't see bottles like that anymore," he said.

So how did he feel to see the old bottle from his grandfather's day?

"It made me feel old," said Mr. Tripp. "It's nothing to look at, that's for sure. I'd like to know how old it is, but I can't tell. All I know is it's older than I am."

This story appeared on Page A1 of The Standard-Times on March 8, 2005.