Missing the flavor of milkman days
When you reach my age — old as dirt — you’ll miss certain folks who were part of your childhood but whose jobs just don’t exist anymore.
The milkman comes immediately to mind.
He made deliveries to our doorstep and, on a hot summer’s day, we’d beg him for a piece of the ice he used to keep the milk, butter, cream and eggs from going bad. If he’d given every kid along his route a piece of ice, he would have needed a truck twice as big. Occasionally, though, he took pity on us — and when he didn’t, we’d sneak a piece from the truck, anyway, while he was making a doorstep delivery. We could have gone in the house and had an ice cube any time we wanted, of course, but what fun was that?
Likewise, the bakery truck driver who brought bread and rolls right to our door — and cakes, which our mothers almost never bought, but which we fervently hoped they would.
Mothers were almost always home, by the way. For most twoparent families — and most families then were two-parent families — dads were the ones who went to work. Moms did laundry, made beds, ironed, cooked and vacuumed — or, if not rich enough to own a vacuum cleaner, swept. Since one income was usually enough then, the only time moms were out and about was to shop. Those mothers who worked generally did so at night or part time. In any case, each family had only one car — if they had a car at all — so where was mom going to go?
There were semiregular visitors, such as the Fuller Brush Man or Avon Lady. They’d come into the house and sit down, opening display cases of interesting and odd goods, a welcome diversion for stay-athome moms.
On an even more irregular basis, the ragman came on his horse-driven cart, yelling out “Any old rags? Any old rags today?” We kids dashed inside to see if our mothers had anything to give him. I don’t know what was in it for our mothers, nor do I have any idea what the ragman did with our old hole-filled stuff, but we usually managed to get something for him. If enough kids had stuff to put in his cart, he’d stop long enough for us to pet his ancient gray horse. That was what we got out of it — and great payment it was, too.
Interesting side note: We kids knew by sound which person was coming before we saw them. The milkman’s truck had a sound distinct from the baker’s truck, while the ragman’s bell was different from the bell rung by, say, the ice cream man. We also could tell, just by the sound of the motor, which one of our fathers was two blocks away and headed home. That wouldn’t be possible in the city now, of course, but there was so little traffic then we could distinguish still-unseen vehicles by sound alone.
Fair warning: If you’re younger than I am — I’d say that’s at least two-to-one in your favor — you’ll someday have the same random melancholia I’ve just displayed. If you write about it, here’s hoping your editor indulges you as much as mine just did.
There were semiregular visitors, such as the Fuller Brush Man or Avon Lady. They’d come into the house, opening display cases of interesting and odd goods.