Dad was a milkman for the Borden Dairy Company. On his route he delivered milk and other products to people’s homes.
Back in the 1950s Dad would leave the house early in the morning before anyone else was awake. When his milk truck was ready, he delivered the milk to the customers on his route. The milk was delivered in glass bottles with a round piece of cardboard capping the top. Deliveries were usually left at the customer’s back door, and it was up to him or her to bring the milk inside before it got too hot in the summer or froze in the winter.
Milk came whole or homogenized. Whole milk was about a one-quarter cream which separated and floated to the top forming a layer. People poured that off and used it for coffee or for whipped cream, or shook the bottle to mix it and before pouring it into a glass or on cereal. Mmm-mmm! No one worried about milk fat back then. Skimmed milk was available, though. At the dairy, the fat rose to the top of the vat and was skimmed off before bottling. Now I rarely hear it called skim milk. Instead people say non-fat or fat free. As far as 1% and 2% milk, I never heard of it in my childhood.
Sometimes, if Dad had finished his milk route by the time I was leaving for school, he would give me a ride in the truck. This was pretty exciting for a little first grader. When I stepped off the truck and onto the playground, my friends gathered round. “How did you get a ride in that milk truck?” When I proudly responded, “My Dad’s a milk man!” my friends were envious.
The dairy trucks were not refrigerated then. So the milk, cream and butter were chilled inside metal crates on top of huge ice blocks. On a hot summer day, if Dad came by our house in the truck, my friends, brother John, sister Joan and I would beg him for a big chunk of ice. I must admit that the ice wasn’t necessarily sanitary. Embedded in the ice there could be little insect creatures or parts thereof. So we weren’t supposed to put it in our mouths. Mainly we just wanted to cool off. When Dad was gone, though, well…. Let’s just say, if you couldn’t see a critter in there, it tasted pretty good.
Here’s some trivia about Borden’s Milk. Elsie, the cow, was Borden’s original mascot. Later she “married” Elmer. Elmer and Elsie begat Beulah, Beauregaard, and twins, Larabee and Lobelia. All these bovines were used in advertising with Elsie being the most popular. In our home we had an Elsie creamer on our kitchen table.
Today Elmer is still well-known. He is the mascot for Elmer’s Glue, which was originally produced by the Borden Chemical Division.
At some point, and I’m not sure when, Dad changed dairies m and drove for the Wanzer Milk Company, a popular brand of milk in Chicago. They has a classy jingle: “Wanzer on milk is like sterling on silver.” But, as a child I never understood what that meant. But we did drink lots of Wanzer Milk!