Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Historical Tuesday : The Milkman

Today’s article was a fun one to research. With a husband who was successful in the dairy business for most of his adult life I have come to learn much about the dairy business as a whole—everything from the birth of newborn calf through the milking stage of a cow’s life. So without farther adieu I’d like to introduce…

The Milkman



In many movies and stories we watch or read about a little, lesser known character whose appearance is quick, short, but yet relays a friendly atmosphere to those little towns in which our hero and heroine lives and breathes. He’s the milkman. Remember the movie with Jim Carrey, “The Truman Show”? I distinctly remember the morning milkman tipping his hat with a morning greeting at the beginning of the movie.

The earliest date I could find with a quick search on this heroic figure was about 1850 when cities, towns, and suburbs were being erected and more people began to branch out and leave the quiet farming communities. Milk had to be delivered to those who wanted it. The milkman was in charge of delivering those bottles (or jugs) of milk to families who were requesting it.

We can see how the milkman’s resources evolved as we break down this important man’s important job. As the years pass—1850, 1900, 1920, 1940—the transportation changed dramatically for these men. From horse drawn carriages to model-T type automobiles and up to the milk truck from the 40’s and 50’s, the means of transportation only made the job easier.

The milkman delivered milk in glass bottles. A common size for the milk jars came in 1 pint or 1 quart. He would generally leave the jars on the doorstep or in a built-into-the-wall “milk chute.”

The milk chute was designed as a way to keep the milk cold as refrigeration was not yet perfected in some areas.

Once a household was finished with the bottles they would rinse out the jars, set to air dry, and then left on the front stoop for collection.

The bottles were returned and sanitized for re-use. Just one more way these generations were able to recycle things of necessity.


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