Templeton residents on Tuesday were treated to a unique sight — a giant milk bottle hitching a ride through downtown.
Residents may have caught a glimpse of the 80-year-old local landmark when it was installed outside the Templeton Historical Society Museum on South Main Street.
The 12-foot bottle, made of lathe, chicken wire and stucco, was previously nestled against an oak tree on a Rossi Road property just off Highway 101. Motorists driving north could sometimes make out the shape of the bottle during their travels.
Maryann Barry of Templeton watched the bottle’s installation at the museum and remembered seeing it along the road as a child when her large family drove from San Luis Obispo to visit relatives near Watsonville.
“Coming down the highway, Dad would always say, ‘We need one like that delivered,’” she said.
Dairy farmers Gregory and Vincent Rossi built the bottle in the 1930s to advertise their business, Crescent Farm. The unique ad was originally situated where Crescent Dairy Road intersected with old Highway 101.
When the modern freeway was installed in the 1950s, the family moved the bottle across the road, where it eventually landed near an oak tree. Although it once hawked Crescent Farm’s “quality milk,” the bottle aged somewhat over the years and is now a dingy white color, its advertisement having faded years back.
“It’s a landmark,” said Steve Rossi, grandson of Vincent Rossi. “Everybody knew it.”
The Rossi family business grew up with San Luis Obispo County. Vincente Rossi came to the Central Coast from Switzerland in the late 1800s and started a dairy on land near San Luis Obispo, according to the Historical Society.
The family eventually moved up to the North County and delivered its dairy products throughout the area, according to Steve Rossi.
James Rossi, Vincent Rossi’s son and Steve Rossi’s father, began hauling milk south to Santa Barbara in the 1950s. This business evolved into Rossi Transport, which is run by Steve Rossi and his sister, Susan, and still delivers feed and landscape products throughout Central and Southern California.
On Tuesday, five generations of the Rossi family gathered to see the milk bottle, a remnant of their family’s legacy, moved to the museum. Tom McNamara, who owns the property where the bottle was previously situated, donated the roadside icon to the Historical Society about three months ago.
The bottle will be power washed, repainted and restored to its original glory by late January, according to Greg O’Sullivan, a Historical Society board member.
Ray Rossi, Gregory Rossi’s son, seemed surprised by all the attention paid to the landmark as it was installed at the museum.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “I mean, it’s just a milk bottle, guys.”