Those were the days when in the summer time after breakfast you would head out to play and not be seen until you were back at home for lunch (because you would hear the noon whistle blow and knew you had better run straight home to be there in time for lunch) and then you would head out again to meet up with the other kids and you knew that your father would be home a few minutes past five and dinner would be on the table at 5:30 and you had better be home and cleaned up and not be late. Yes, and then after dinner off you would go again knowing you had to hurry back home "when the street lights come on."
We got our milk from the milkman, delivered early in the morning, glass quart bottles left in an insulated box on our front porch. (Actually, that insulated box was an innovation -- when I was really young I can remember the milk bottles just being left on the porch. And I can remember at least one bitterly cold winter morning pre-insulated-box when the milk actually froze out on the porch in the sub-zero temperatures.) You would put out the empty bottles the night before and the milkman would take the empties and leave the number of bottles that made up your standard order. I think you could also leave a note asking for an extra quart or one less quart or perhaps for some butter or cheese -- I was just a kid and so was not involved other than being assigned to put the empties out and to bring the delivered bottles in. The milk was pasteurized but was not homogenized -- that means the cream was floating on top and you had to shake the bottle before pouring the milk. (When I was in 6th grade I was appointed Milk Monitor for my grade school -- which meant I got to bring the empty bottles out and bring in the delivered bottles. these being small glass half-pint bottles -- I wrote an entry about this back in '03.)
Of course I also remember when margarine was white (and it was called oleomargarine) -- it looked like a bag of Crisco -- and you had to pop a capsule of orange-ish food-coloring and knead and knead the margarine and the food color until it finally looked sort of yellow and buttery. This was due to efforts by the dairy lobby to handicap margarine sales. It wasn't too long after the war that the the dairy lobby lost out in New York State (probably because of consolidation of food distributers and processors) but I understand that out in a major dairy state like Wisconsin margarine wasn't allowed to be colored to look like butter until the 1960s. But I missed it when pre-colored margarine was sold in stores; I had thought the color change was magical and I loved being given a bowl of margarine to mix up and watch it turn color as I stirred and stirred.
When I was a kid there was more than dairy that was delivered...
There was a bakery truck -- and, no, I can't remember the name -- that came around delivering bread and rolls and such. It always annoyed me that my family didn't get bread delivered because the bakery gave away comic books as a promotional item and I felt cheated that we didn't get free comic books delivered with our bread.
There was a farm fresh produce guy -- an old Italian guy in what must have been a Model T vintage pickup truck, loaded down with baskets of produce. He would drive slowly around in summer -- just like the ice cream man -- ringing a bell and calling out "Nice fresha fruits anda vegetables" (you have to imagine that being called out in a very broad Italian accent) and housewives would come out and wave and he would stop and next thing you knew there would be three or four women out there looking over his produce. (Remember, I'm talking about the late 1940s here.)
And there was ice delivery. For your ice box. Again, I'm talking 1948, 1949, like that, not 1958 or 1960. (Remember, I am not a Baby Boomer; I am a War Baby, born in 1943... my little brother, born in '46, is the Boomer [Hi Charlie!].) The Ice Man lived two doors up the street from us. And he came home for lunch! And he would park his truck in front of his house while he went inside for his noontime meal. And, yes, of course all of us five and six year old boys would instantly swarm up onto his truck and grab the chips of ice -- oh, how delicious! -- I swear that the ice cream man never delivered any Popsicle that tasted as heavenly as a child's fist-sized chunk of ice stolen on a hot August day from the back of the ice man's truck. Oh yes... scampering away clutching our stolen treasures as he comes out on his porch, cursing us in Italian. How sweet and cold and refreshing it was....
(For those who may be new to this site, after reading yesterday's and today's entry you may not be surprised to hear that I sometimes say that my brother and I were the only white kids in the neighborhood who had a silent vowel at the end of our name.)
Oh, those were the days... how did they get to be so long ago?
What was old is new again. There is a dairy (Munroe Dairy) servicing my neighborhood and much of Rhode Island, using white and black delivery trucks painted to look like cows. Of course this is the 21st century -- they don't just delivery milk, they deliver cheese and eggs... and prepared foods... egg nog and ravioli and tiramisu and pies and cookies and... And you can order online.
Blasts from the past -- entries for this date from previous years: