Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ken Salazar Passes

From John O'Neill


Attached is a painting I recently acquired entitled forest burial. It just seems appropriate in memory of my long time friend Ken Salazar who passed away Tuesday after an extended medical condition. He is survived by his sons Stephen and Joe Salazar. All of us who knew Ken realized he was among the early San Francisco diggers who dug more than his share of really good bottles over the years.

 I heard all his stories about the time he dug the Old Woodburn in Vallejo, the Cassins Bitters in Oakland or the roadhouse privy on 10th and Mission that had two pickup truck beds full of bottles. I still have the Jacob Denzler quart beer he pulled out of a hole they had drilled for foundation pilings. His luck was phenomenal. He had an uncanny memory of every property and outhouse he dug. John Shroyer and I would drive around with him for hours and he could point out every house he dug and tell you what came out of the pit. He dug with many good friends over the years including Mel Hughes, Louie Pellegrini, Jeff Rosen, Tom Quinn, Judy Miyasaki, Billy Kiebala, Bill Woodcock and all of the Sierra Brothers and I was lucky enough to dig a number of privies with him as well.

 He had a nose and an intuition on locating privies second to none. I saw him in action many times probing a lot when five or six other people were competing for the hole. He would tell me dig here and he was seldom wrong. I am sure we all have Ken stories and over the years I will be the first to admit he wasn't always the easiest guy to get a long with, but when you were his friend you were his friend period.

His last eight months were spent confined to a bed and the last time I saw him was a few weeks ago and he never gave up the fight. He always wanted to talk bottles and get out of bed to dig or hunt down old collections. I will take my memories of Ken with me and I am sure most of us will miss the character he was, who else could tell prospective buyers of his bottles that his was more expensive than other similar bottles because he had to charge by the number of feet he had to dig to retrieve them. Rest in piece and I am glad to have called you my friend.


  1. I am sorry to hear of his passing, Ken was quite the antique bottle aficionado. I too have witnessed his phenomenal ability to locate a bottle on a vacant lot. He will be greatly missed.

  2. Ken was a legend in the hobby, especially impactful in the western bottle world. He was always kind and fair to me. Sad to learn of his passing. I know that several respected western collectors are struggling with health issues lately.

  3. I always enjoyed "haggling" with Ken at the shows. He most always turned out to be the best haggler. I will miss his quick wit. Sorry to hear of his passing

  4. Ken was one of very few diggers that new what areas the good glass came from and also how to find it. Many of envied a person who could stop for gas in Oakland and dig an amber Gold dust whiskey in the same stop. I enjoyed attending many shows with Ken and trading soda bottles back and forth. He will be missed by many and I am happy to have considered him a FRIEND MAX

  5. Sorry to hear this sad news. Ken was truly a legendary digger and collector of these crazy western bottles we all covet. He found the pits and pulled from the ground bottles that I could only find in my dreams! Rest in peace Ken. A member of the digging Hall Of Fame without a doubt.

  6. I can recall seeing Ken at the Western shows for many, many years, but hadn't had the opportunity to get to know him until a sit-down chat at the first 'Bottle Camp' hosted by the Lambert's. I learned quickly that Ken always spoke what was on his mind, never holding back, good or bad. From that point on we always had fun and humorous chats when we met up at shows and was pleased to call him a friend. Ken is definitely one of the legends and characters in our hobby that cannot be replaced and will be sorely missed.

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