Coastal Bend History


Grisham's and that famous milk bottle

Posted at 3:06 PM, Aug 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-24 16:13:00-04

That GIANT milk bottle on North Beach, which I can remember for as long as I've been alive, recalls a time in Corpus Christi when Grisham's Milk and Ice Cream was one of the dominant brands in the city.

Ben Grisham and his wife, Mary, moved to Corpus Christi in 1927. In 1929, Ben opened his Grisham's Ice Cream Co., located at 520 Belden near the old Nueces County Courthouse.

Grisham's "Angel Food" ice cream was said to be the smoothest and best in town.


Grisham was the first in the city to offer "irradiated" milk to the public in 1934. The process enriched milk with vitamin D without altering the taste of the milk.

A 15-foot-tall milk bottle made of reinforced concrete stood in front of Grisham's plant on Belden to advertise Grisham's Milk.

In October, 1937 the bottle, which actually encloses a small room, was moved to North Beach when Grisham enlarged his Belden Street plant.

The GIANT "bottle" was not only great advertising for Grisham's at a time when North Beach was "the place to be", Grisham's Ice Cream was actually sold to people out of the bottle's tiny room.

The property on which the bottle stood was owned by Mrs. Beatrice Anderson, who operated a trailer park at that location.

Meanwhile, Ben Grisham's ice cream and milk were sold in every Corpus Christi grocery store and soda fountain. He even had a contract with CCISD to supply the district's schools.

Ben became a leading citizen in Corpus Christi, active in numerous civic and service organizations. He was well known for his generous charitable contributions, and he and his friend, Tom Graham, established a foster home for delinquent boys called "Boys City". However, Ben Grisham's life was cut short.

While bowling on the night of March 22, 1939, he suffered a massive heart attack. He died in the hospital 7 days later. He was only 50 years old.

At the time, Ben was also President of the Chamber of Commerce. Literally hundreds of people came out for his funeral and burial in Rose Hill Cemetery. Pallbearers included such distinguished citizens as Dr. J.M. Tyree, Bob Swantner, Harold Carr, Tom Graham, and Fred Quaile.


His wife, Mary, continued running the company until December 1951 when she sold out to Ray T. Karr. The Grisham's brand name was changed to Karr's Milk and Ice Cream in November 1952. If you don't remember the Karr's brand, it's understandable; Karr's sold out to Hygeia on December 1, 1954.

But, back to that GIANT milk bottle.


In the early 1950's, the property (and trailer park) upon which the bottle stood was sold by Mrs. Anderson to Tony and Sarah Halder. They continued to operate the North Beach RV Park and became the proud owners of a GIANT milk bottle. That bottle survived Carla, Beulah, Celia, and Allen, storms that eventually wiped out many of the old structures on North Beach. Sarah Halder continued ownership of the RV park, and the bottle, until her death in 2008 at age 94.

Her daughter, Donna Bodine, became new the owner until passing the title to her son, Brian, last year. So, for the time being, the old, iconic Grisham's Milk Bottle remains safe and secure in its home on North Beach. I'm sure that Ben Grisham would be proud!

Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a history teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him a unique expert in the subject.