Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Dad and the Grapette bottle

This appeared this morning in the "Paper Trails" section of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Pastor gives a message in a bottle



Until last week, the empty vintage Grapette bottle rested on a shelf in Rev. Michael Mattox ’s office.
The pastor of First United Methodist Church in Little Rock , known for his quirky collectibles, was given the bottle in the early 1990s by a member of his congregation, then in Arkadelphia. When he became district superintendent and moved to Little Rock , he packed up and brought the bottle. Later, when he became pastor of First United Methodist, he again packed and moved it.
Then he learned that Billy Parker, the man whose funeral he was to preside over last Saturday in Rison, had on many days in his youth bought nickel bottles of Grapette and bags of peanuts for his high school crush Estelle, who eventually became his wife of 51 years. That’s when Mattox knew why he had the bottle and what he needed to do with it.
“It kept staring at me,” the pastor tells Paper Trails. “I thought, ‘It was a gift to me, and I need to make it a gift to Estelle.’”
He took the bottle from the shelf and filled it with water and daffodils he’d plucked from his backyard. During his sermon, the pastor shared the couple’s Grapette story and placed the flower-filled bottle amid the grand arrangements flanking the casket.
Call it a revelation. Or a reassuring message from the departed to loved ones left behind. Or a God moment.
Just not a coincidence. The date on the bottle? 1946 — the first of the four years during which Billy and Estelle shared the drink at a local store during recess breaks.


  1. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Tell your dad that Nina's dad will give him another bottle, not necessarily to use at a funeral but just because we are friends and he almost got his name in the paper!

    It was the subject of much conversation at Andy's coffee shop this morning.

    What is the email address at First Methodist Little, please?

    Nina's dad

  2. Hi Nina's Dad!
    you can email my dad at the following address--replace "at" with the @ sign you'd usually use. (This will help my dad not get a lot of spam.)

  3. Oh, what a great story!