Friday, November 16, 2007

The Milk Man

The other day I saw what looked like an old milk truck and it brought back some fond memories of the old days. I’m not talking about the stainless tankers that go to farms and pick up milk for processing. I’m talking about the tall rounded delivery route trucks that were driven by men in white uniforms who would deliver milk to your home.

I remember the milkman we had when I was about four years old. His name was Clarkey and he was a quiet friendly man who always waved and smiled at me through the window when he made his delivery. He would place our family order in an insulated milk box on the porch. I was fascinated by his cream white Divco Milk Truck with rounded brown fenders. I was fascinated how he drove the truck with the doors open.

It was near the end of the age of the milk man when my mother canceled all future milk deliveries. She told me that Clarkey was very upset that he lost yet another customer to the dreaded milk machines that were popping up every where. These big refrigerated vending boxes were found on just about every thoroughfare and vended milk 24 hours a day.

Milk machines just made sense since you got milk when you needed it and the milk came in cardboard cartons so breaking a glass bottle was a thing of the past. Also the milk machines charged less for milk. It was about a quarter for a quart.

I don’t know what the progression of events were like in other parts of the country, but where I lived these machines were around for only about ten years or so before they were replaced by milk stores that sold milk in glass containers again. The one gallon glass jugs had durable plastic handles and I’ve known many people who broke a gallon jug while driving them home in their car. A gallon of milk on the loose in a car certainly changed the character and value of one’s car quickly. Now our milk is packaged mostly in plastic containers

This all came to mind because I have two one gallon glass milk jugs out in my shop. The previous home owner left them behind when he moved out. They are a touch stone of a time gone by which takes me back ever further to recall Clarkey ascending the steps to the porch of the house where I lived.


Blogger Hahn at Home said...

Our milkman was Charlie. I don't remember the machines, I do the milkman. Daisy Dairy. I used to hooky-bob on the back of his truck in winter until I got caught.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Where and when I grew up we delivered the milk from our farm to several hundred customers. Raw milk, fresh from the cows.
Clarkey and those like him were our replacements. Not sure about the vending machines up here, but I doubt it, as even coke machines didn't catch on big here until the latter 60s.
Not sure I want to relive those sub-zero winter 0330 wake-up calls, the shoveling to the barn, milking, bottling, delivering until my aunt dropped me at school and went to finish deliveries. Great memories in all, but best appreciated as memories:)

1:00 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Hooky-Bob, that's a new one on me, but I knew what it meant right away.

Those dairy kids were pretty tough back in those days. Anyone who could handle a 15 gallon can had to be respected.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Guy, you crack me up. You sometimes are in the habit of writing as if you were a really really old person, which you are not. Silly!

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

auntie - have you ever witnessed Guy mounting and dismounting his horse? If it looks like an old person and acts like and old person..well.....

Just kidding was said with love.....

Ok, to stay on topic... I know people in Denver and the surrounding sprawl areas that still have their milk and butter delivered weekly by a guy (gender neutral term) in a white suit driving a white truck. It is nice to see that some things don't change... except that they place their order online or via text messaging.

10:00 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Auntie the scene which I wrote of happened in 1958. Where were you in 1958?

Love Anon, but I do get up there and he is a tall horse.
Yes, about ten years ago there was a big nostalgia thing in a couple cities and milk delivery services began again. I'm glad to hear they are still going and that it wasn't a fad. I think it would be kinda cool to have a milk truck.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Guy, not sure about respected, cussed at fer bein' slow a lot though:)

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where was I in 1958? Still an unripe egg in old mom's ovary.

I've seen glass milk jugs in antique shops, I've even seen restored delivery trucks, but I've never seen an actual milk man.

The definition of a modern slave is "Dairy farmer." No thank you, not for me.

8:47 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

There then, you are young. Don't be picking on Pappy.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Warwick Thom said...

Growing up in Paterson, New Jersey the milk man from Port Murray Dairy drove a Divco truck while standing and delivered quart glass bottles to a small insulated box on the back porch. The bottles had a paper cap, and it was necessary to shake the bottle thoroughly before pouring from it so the cream would mix in. The milkman would deliver chocolate milk too if you left a note.
Then came the milk vending machines. In our area they were owned by Garden State Farms, and were widely available. Garden State Farms later did away with the machines and opened stores that sold mostly dairy products. I suppose those stores were the predecessors of the modern day convenience store.

4:12 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Thanks, Thom. I thought that was the progression of things. I just wasn't sure if GSF was around before 7-11.

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Warwick Thom said...


You may be onto something there. 7-Eleven actually began in Texas in 1927 but didn't go by that name until the late 1940's. I'm not sure when franchises first opened in the east, but I don't remember any 7-Elevens back in the 60's when I was a teen. Then again, there's a good deal about the 60's that I don't remember

5:23 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Thom GSF was the first Convenience store I ever entered. Before that there were newspaper stand coffee shops where you could buy stuff, but not like GSF.

7:45 PM  

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