"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
About Bayou Bill
Wild Recipes
The Bayou Bill Shirt-Pocket Pail
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

I will not hazard a guess on when it happened, but the history of packaging milk for grocery stores would suggest that it was some time after the demise of high-button shoes and glass milk bottles. However, I can tell you that I have always lived by the old saw which says "necessity is the mother of invention," and necessity obviously motivated my discovery of the Bayou Bill Shirt-Pocket Pail which offers many uses. 

The importance of creating a shirt-pocket pail and making it an integral part of your outdoor paraphernalia lies in the fact that the products of nature show up at strange and unexpected times. The outdoors person who carries a shirt-pocket pail will be prepared to harvest nature's bounties at all times. 

Creating the Bayou Bill Shirt-Pocket Pail is as simple as combining a half-gallon, waxed-paper, or light plastic milk or fruit juice container with a strong cord for a bail, a few plastic bags, and some paper clips. 

In five easy steps, here is how I do it:

  • Step 1--With milk or juice removed from the container, wash it thoroughly with cold running water, and dry it (inside and out). 
  • Step 2--With a sharp knife or scissors, cut off the angled top of the container, which creates the pouring spout. This will create an upright container that is roughly 3 ¾ (three and three-fourths) of an inch square and roughly 7 inches tall. [See illustration below.]
  • Step 3--Grasp the quadrangular container firmly on opposite sides with thumbs and second, third and fourth  fingers of each hand. Then with index fingers of both hands push the sides of the container in simultaneously and work this crease downward until the bottom of the container buckles upward. This allows the container to flatten out. (Older milk containers, which are somewhat less sturdy than their present-day counterparts, can be folded just like brown paper grocery bags. With these containers the bottom remains flat (it does not buckle) and the sides of the container are merely wrapped around the bottom.) 
  • Step 4---Wrap the top of the flattened container around its lower half to create a ¾ (three-fourths) to one inch flattened container. Weight it down with a heavy object to give the folds a partial permanence. A tight rubber band will keep the container flat and will render it small enough to be carried in a shirt pocket. [See illustration below.]
  • Step 5--To convert the flattened container into a pail, force the sides apart and make the bottom flat, almost like it was before it was folded. Punch holes on opposite sides at the top and fashion a bail from strong cord. Insert a plastic bag large enough to fill the container and secure it with paper clips on the four sides at the top. 
When a plastic bag is filled with berries or other natural produce, remove it and close the top with a twister (the little strip used to close plastic bread sacks). Then insert another plastic bag to continue harvesting berries or other items. 

A Tip or Two--Waxed paper milk containers of the past are better than the sturdier juice containers found in grocery stores now, because they are easier to fold and crease. But either will work . . . Carry the filled bags by grasping  their tops with the fingers or in a basket to avoid crushing berries or other soft items . . . store filled bags in cool, shady places until ready to take them home. 

Shirt Pocket Pail Image #1
Shirt Pocket Pail Image #2
Shirt Pocket Pail Image #3
Your carton should look like this after completing the instructions in Step 2 above. After Step 4, your Shirt-Pocket Pail is ready for travel. Daughters Patty (top) and Joan model one of my early shirt pocket pails along with half a gallon of wild strawberries. 


All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author's family.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Scifres Family, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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