Our great American imagination
CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18
RICK The people who care for these places are crucial factors in their survival. And if you’re in southern Massachusetts, near New Bedford, you might want to walk into a giant milk bottle.
SCOTT That’s, that’s the biggest signature sign in New Bedford. Everybody knows the Frates’ Bottle.
RICK It was one of several built in the 1930s by a local dairy run by the Frates family. In 2003, it was bought by Crystal and Scott Vurpillatte.
SCOTT I mean we named it after my daughter. Her name is Tali, so we call it Tali’s Place at the Frates’ Bottle, just to let people know there are new owners and we’re trying to clean it up and do a, you know, do a few things nice to it.
CRYSTAL I like the fact that it’s different and I think that’s what attracts a lot of people to this place.
SCOTT I think once you’re in here you don’t realize that there is you know a huge bottle sitting on top of you. I think it definitely attracts people in, and once they come in, I think they’re more thinking about getting a big ice cream sundae or something like that, but…
BLONDE MOM I heard the ice cream was good so we came here to try it out.
WINDOW Oh yeah, I love this ice cream. This ice cream’s good.
JOE They make the best frappes you could ever taste.
BOB Who’s gonna come to a milk bottle to get ice cream? You know what I mean? But you’d be surprised. It drew people in.
SCOTT We have over fifty flavors of regular ice cream which is unbelievable ice cream. It’s really good: the fourteen-per-cent really fattening stuff.
CRYSTAL So a lot of people just know this building as “always been here.” And people that do drive by, they think, Wow! Look at that! And they just want to stop in.
NECKLACE I love the bottle, yes. When we come by, I always look at it.
BLONDE MOM Cause it kind of stands out. I mean, everything else has this shape, and you got a bottle that’s sticking out in mid air. It’s kind of cool looking.
BOB It just evokes something. It’s unusual. And you come here all the time since you were a kid, you know, and you hate to see anything happen to it because it’s a thing from your past, you know what I’m saying?
CRYSTAL People like us, we take it for granted, cause it’s always been here, but whenever you talk to any of the people, any of the older folks, everybody has a story about this place, either they worked here or they used to come here, they met their wife here, they dated here, it was… Everybody has a story.
BLONDE MOM We used to come in here when I was a young girl, when it was Frates’.
ANTHONY It’s a little special for me because my, my grandfather actually painted this once. He painted the bottle.
SCOTT I used to ride my bike here when I was a kid to get ice cream.
CRYSTAL I grew up down the street from here. So I came here ever since I was a kid.
ANTHONY Yeah, my dad… oooh! My dad used to bring me here. And now I bring my son here, so…
CRYSTAL I love the fact that I can bring my daughter here to work and nobody can tell me No. And it’s great that I can be with her even though I’m working all the time. She’s, she’s just part, you know, she’s part of the whole ambiance of the whole new place.
RICK But the new place still relies on the unusual charm of the old structure, and Scott said he’d show us upstairs.
SCOTT It’s our little office we have set up in here. This is where we do our ordering and answer the phones, and there’s Crystal hard at work. And over here behind this little door, this is our entrance to our milk bottle. They don’t give you much room. Take a peek in there and show you guys. This is the inside of our milk bottle. This is built in the 1930s. This is a fifty-two-foot wooden structure. This is the inside of it. And if you look straight up, you’ll see it’s in pretty good shape.
RICK We learned that all this wood was milled, steamed and shaped in what’s now the parking lot outside, and it often fills up fast.
BOB Well, the cars are coming here for our weekly Sunday cruise night that we have here at the Bottle.
CRYSTAL And it’s nice because they also play some old 50s music, so it’s just a good time. People come down here, get some ice cream or maybe some food. And have a fun night out.
SCOTT I’d, I’d say ninety per cent of our business comes from just talking about the milk bottle. I mean all throughout the city, we’ll never get to change the name totally over cause everybody still calls it Frates. The guy definitely had vision when he built this, I mean, just to say it’s a pretty bold thing to do, to build you know a 52-foot milk bottle on top of your restaurant.
CRYSTAL We want it to keep going. And that’s the thing. We’re not just in it for you know maybe five years and then sell it. We’re planning on passing this down to Tali. So she’ll have to have a nice building, so we’ll make sure that she does. Cause this is all for her.
RICK Well, kids do matter in all this.