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The Milkman Cometh

The milkman, circa 1960I just barely got in on this memory. We had a Meadow Gold milkman who would come by twice a week, delivering two-quart bottles of milk with a cardboard stopper. There would be a knock at the door, followed by a call of "Meadow Gold!" Mom would have left the empty bottle on the porch, and the milkman would replace it with a fully topped-off complement.

Milkmen originally delivered their product in pint or quart bottles daily. The reason was that homeowners had iceboxes before WWII. They kept food cool, but opening the door more than a few times a day meant the coolness would be more like lukewarmness.

That leads to another memory. Did anyone else out there grow up referring to their refrigerator as an icebox, courtesy of your parents' lingo?

As the years wore on, iceboxes were replaced by refrigerators that became more and more affordable. By the 1960's iceboxes were gone. But housewives who had never known anything but milk being delivered to their doors continued to patronize local dairies that would bring milk, eggs, cottage cheese, and other products directly to the home.

I'm not sure when Meadow Gold discontinued home deliveries. I know they stopped for us about 1967, but I'm not sure if it was because of being discontinued, or because my thrifty father decided it was too much of an expense. In researching this article, I discovered that at least one dairy in Longmont, Colorado was still making home deliveries of less-than-24-hour-old-milk in returnable glass bottles as recently as 1997.

The milkman's regularity in making early morning deliveries led to such classic joke's as Rodney Dangerfield's "I'm depressed! I saw my kid and the milkman going to a father-and-son dinner!" A milkman or two might have been invited in for a cup of coffee by an amorous housewife, but in reality, I'm sure it was a rare occurrence.

Nowadays, milk comes in an ugly plastic gallon jug with a date stamped on it. You can still get food delivered to your doorstep, courtesy of the Schwann's man. But the days of leaving returnable bottles on your porch, to have them replaced by the milkman, are long gone.

I wonder If I have a cold beer in the icebox?

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