The Milkman, Breadman, and Eggman

MilkmanI 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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