‘Milk Jug Lady’ of Mays Landing dies at age 82
For more than three decades, Josephine Stapleton of Mays Landing turned milk jugs, fabric dye and imagination into works of art that adorned the front lawn of her Mays Landing home. Last week, the New Jersey woman who locals affectionately referred to as the "Milk Jug Lady" passed away following an illness. She was 82.
From a giant American flag to Disney and holiday-themed displays, Stapleton used one-gallon plastic milk jugs that she colored with food and fabric dyes to create her works of art. For years, the displays could be seen by motorists driving along Route 40.
Weird N.J., one of a few publications that have featured Stapleton's work on their pages, said the front lawn display originally began as a way to keep her children off the lawn. But soon, the displays became more elaborate, changing seasonally. "Lactose enthusiasts" from all over the country as well as art lovers and curious New Jerseyans not only visited, but donated milk jugs to help support Stapleton's art, Weird N.J. reported.
"She hoped to one day build a map of the entire United States out of jugs, with each state being represented by a jug from its home state," the magazine reported.
By far, the longest-standing design to ever adorn Stapleton's lawn was the brightly-colored American flag, which featured about 996 milk jugs. She came up with the design in 1974. The Milk Jug Lady - who happened to be lactose intolerant - told Weird N.J. that one of the reasons the motif remained on the property so long was because, "Those jugs are so old that if I tried to move them they’d fall apart."
A few years before her death, Stapleton moved out of her Mays Landing home as she battled a serious illness, her niece, Lee Ann Farrell, told Weird N.J. She died last Friday and is predeceased by her husband, Richard and several siblings. Prior to her death, she was a school bus driver for many years with Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, First Student Transportation and Integrity Transportation.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.