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City Life

I remember being proud, as I grew up, that I lived in a city, instead of being a farm kid from “the sticks.”  Keep in mind this “city” had 20,000 residents and still does. Although a small town, it afforded us services that country dwellers didn’t get. The service people lived among us and made our lives easier while supporting their families.

1950s Milk Man delivering milk to housewife

One such helper was Mr. Bailey, our milkman. He drove a white truck the size of Texas, but cooler, and delivered to us from Meadow Gold Dairy two days each week. He wore white to match his product:  shirt, pants & shoes, with a little black bow tie. Because one leg was shorter than the other, he walked with a pronounced limp. But he always wore a smile and supported five kids with that route.    

Mom placed the empty bottles on the screened porch in the morning for our usual order:  2 quarts of whole milk and whipping cream when she was baking. He knew our order by heart, so he’d grab the handle of an empty cage, (think a beer six-pack holder, but metal and a little bigger.) Then he’d fill our order from inside the truck and hot-foot it to our door. He’d place the new bottles on the porch, where they’d wait for us with their pleated paper caps, like white-uniformed nurses lined up. The delivery man in the picture is not Mr. Bailey, nor is the slim, attractive lady my mother, but you get the idea of the door-to-door service those cows gave us.

In 1955, the average cost of milk was 22 cents per quart, but Mom paid 35 cents each for the delivery.  She’d pay Mr. Bailey on the spot, with a little extra for him. If we planned to be gone, she’d leave the money in an envelope on the porch. Our empties would clank like Marley’s ghost as he hurried back to the truck and on to his next stop.

Because I was the only child at home by then, our order was relatively small. Not so with the Edmonson Family up the street and their three kids. I was there once when Mr. Bailey delivered their order; the number of bottles and their size surprised me. Instead of our shorter chubby bottles, Mrs. Edmonson’s were tall and slender with the cream riding at the top of their long, slender necks, like swans preening.  She grabbed each bottle and shook it firmly, adding the cream to the milk below.   


Today this service is long gone, along with its jobs. Sometimes I miss those Old School days when we actually KNEW the people who made our daily lives more livable.    


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