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The Milkman, Breadman, and Eggman

The milkman, breadman, and the eggman: times were sure different 60 years ago.

I am a relic from the 1950s. Life was surely different then. Certainly it was a lot simpler; perhaps even a bit kinder and friendlier. People didn't drive Hummer-size SUVS and try to run one off of the highway merely because one was driving the speed limit.

I have mental images of playing baseball in the road virtually every summer day back in the 1950s. There were always a bunch of kids from which to round up two teams since this was the era before the "pill", when most married women stayed home and raised children. We didn't know many children of divorced parents: Ozzie and Harriet, Lucille Ball, Joan Davis, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Donna Reed, Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver, et al, were all married. Single parents back then were not the norm; nor was divorce.

Since mom was usually at home raising the children, there was only need and money enough for one car, too. So to accommodate all those stay-at-home moms, there were milkmen, breadmen, and eggmen making home deliveries of the staple items in order for mom to prepare those three square meals a day consisting of the four basic food groups, as mom was constantly reminded on television to provide us. Yeah, this was pre-anorexia, too. Women didn't mind having curves back then. And the men certainly didn't mind their women having curves back then either.

Our milkman for years was Frank. He worked for Guida's Dairy, and was tall and slendar. He wore a uniform and weekly came into our kitchen and collected for the milk he had delivered. Mom and dad knew him; he was regarded as a friend, if not a family member.

We had a set of 12" square hinged doors in the exterior wall of our home, with the interior door at floor level in our kitchen while the exterior door was a couple of feet above ground level outside. Between the two doors was a cavity big enough for Frank to leave our daily ration of milk and cream in. 

Later we were provided with an insulated metal milkbox. Mom didn't like the milkbox because we would often hide our garden snakes in there as mom wouldn't let us bring them in the house. Being friendly and loving little guys, when mom would retrieve the milk in the morning, the garden snakes would affectionately wrap themselves around her arm, causing her to scream hysterically, after which she would retrieve her leather strap and cause us to scream hysterically in turn. Justice sure was blind back then, and punishment a heck of a lot swifter.

I only faintly recall the bread and egg men. The breadman, who wore a brown uniform and drove a big box truck, would deliver bread a couple of times a week in our neighborhood. I recall him selling Wonder bread, which I thought was great back then since its shape and size lended itself perfectly for peanut butter, jelly, and marshmellow sandwiches. Funny, but I don't think I have eaten Wonder bread since I was a child.

The eggman was a man who drove an old beat up truck. Weekly he would stop by and sell mom fresh eggs. He didn't wear a uniform and was in all likelihood a local farmer. Mom would pay him with half dollars, quarters, dimes, and/or nickels, which he would deposit in his leather pouch attached to his belt. I used to think he was rich. Quarters were a lot of money back then. I could buy five packs of baseball cards with a quarter at Maxie's Five and Dime Store. That translated to twenty-five baseball cards and five sticks of stale bubble gum.

Besides milkmen making daily deliveries, there were also milk machines scattered throughout town, outside in front of retail and drug stores and gas stations. One could buy a quart of milk from these machines at any hour of the day or night for 25 cents; or a half pint for 10 cents. Its chocolate milk consumed many of my dimes back then.

Even though there were no twenty-four hour stores as there are today, one never seemed to run out of milk back then. We seemed to manage quite well without all of these always open, never closed, convenience stores, which I don't find convenient at all, but just very expensive.

Yeah, it was a simpler way of life back then, with one family member working, one watching the children, one car, one black-and-white TV, one phone, a milkman, a breadman, and an eggman. Life seemed a lot less hectic and a lot more pleasant. People seemed a lot more pleasant and nicer, too.

Perhaps it was a better time back then. There certainly was no need for armed police officers in schools in the 1950s. I wonder what changed everything.

William Brighenti, CPA

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Kybrdplyr January 14, 2013 at 01:58 PM
I grew up in the country where we had our own milk from our dairy cows and our own eggs, bartered from a farmer for milk. However, a heads up to you. We still get milk delivery, once per week, from Smyth Dairy in Enfield, CT. We discovered them selling milk products at the New Canaan farmer's market. They asked for sign-ups for home delivery and we have been receiving our bottles in a case at the door every Wednesday ever since. Far superior to store-bought and well-worth the extra expense, they have a WEB site should you want to revisit some of the good parts of "yesteryear".
Glen K Dunbar January 14, 2013 at 02:01 PM
I remember milk delivery when I was young. Not I am old (UNFAIR) wish I could go back to those easy days. aHH. MY LIFE STINKS
Igor January 14, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Mr. Brighenti, what a wonderful story to read in an era where 90% of the news is bad and 8% is just strange (your fortunately falls in the 2% area. I myself am from an older generation and I tend to forget the past way of life. In some respects it was a harder life (we didn't have the labor saving devices we have now) but in many repects a nicer life. The biggest thing I find is the different modes of travel today. Because they weren't readily available to the average family, most families stayed close together. Now they are spread out all over the world and it's a rarity that the whole family can get together. I miss the family unit.
William Brighenti, CPA January 14, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Thank you, Igor. I am so glad that it brought back warm memories for you. There were so many small businesses in our home town; now they are virtually all gone. When you entered their stores, they would greet you personally. And you often had personal charge accounts at their stores. That is all gone now. If I walk into Staples or Target, no one knows who I am. It so much more impersonal now.
William Brighenti, CPA January 14, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Smyth Dairy in Enfield: thank you. There was Guida's, Ferndale, Mohawk dairy in Central Connecticut that I recall. Glad to know there are still milk trucks on the road. And you are so right: the milk from the dairy is far superior to that bought in the store. Thanks for the info!
William Brighenti, CPA January 14, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Dear Glen: Sorry to hear about your life. But if it is any comfort to you, many of us are having very difficult times. We just do the best we can. What else can we do? Hope and pray things get better. My best to you.

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