Editor’s note: This is the 95th of a series about growing up in Marysville during the late 1930s and the 1940s written by Bill Boyd. Each article is a snapshot of the people, businesses and activities during that era as seen through the eyes of a young boy.
Boyd was born in Marysville in 1932, graduated from Marysville High School in 1950, and lived the greater part of his life here.
The milkman cometh
When I was a kid, maybe 70 or 75 years ago, we did most of our grocery shopping at Spring’s Market. It was a small grocery store located on the east side of Main Street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets. My mother really liked their meat; and one of the Spring brothers, I believe it was Otis, knew the cuts she preferred, and he prepared them just the way she liked them.
Shopping at Spring’s was also a matter of convenience. If she was having a busy day, and really didn’t have time to go shopping, she could just phone the store and Otis’s brother, Cecil, would deliver the groceries on the store’s motor scooter.
Like almost all houses in Marysville, ours was close enough so that she could simply walk to the store when the weather was nice. She preferred that to driving. She didn’t even have to carry a purse, because Mrs. Spring would just put her purchases on our tab, which we paid at the end of each month. And Cecil would deliver everything on his scooter.
About the only thing we didn’t buy from Spring’s Market were dairy products. We were a regular customer of Clegg’s Dairy. They delivered milk to our front porch every morning, Monday through Saturday. They made their deliveries really early, maybe 4 or 5 a.m.
Whenever my mother wanted to order something extra, she just wrote a note, and left it sticking out of the previous day’s returnable glass milk bottle on the front porch – maybe some whipping cream, buttermilk, or a pound of butter. Some of my mother’s recipes called for buttermilk, but she also just loved to drink it. I never understood how she could drink that sour stuff, but she did.
Milk in those days wasn’t homogenized, so all of the cream was on top, and we gave each bottle a good shaking before we started to pour it. Sometimes when I got up early, before my sisters, I wouldn’t shake up the milk. Instead, I would pour the cream on my cereal and leave the skim milk for them. I can still hear my sisters complaining, “Oh, Mother, he did it again. He took all the cream.” Just thinking about that still brings a smile to my face.
Having our milk delivered daily to our front porch was nice, but it could be a problem in winter. When it got really cold, the milk would freeze. As it expanded, it would rise an inch or more out of the top of the bottle. All the cats in the neighborhood thought this was great. They loved cream, and they could go from house to house, licking the frozen cream that stuck out of the bottles. When my mother saw that, she quickly switched our breakfast menu from cereal to scrambled eggs.
The dairy’s main facility was just outside of Marysville on the Milford Center road. Sometime later they also opened a retail dairy and ice dream store on South Plum Street, directly behind the Kroger store. My oldest sister, Betty, got a job there when she was in high school. I loved to go there to buy ice cream, because she gave me dips that were so big you wouldn’t believe it.
A few years later, when I was about 12, Clegg’s added an ice cream vehicle that went up and down the streets of Marysville in the summer, selling ice cream bars, fudgesicles and the like to kids. When I first saw that contraption, I fell in love with it. The front end was a freezer compartment, maybe four feet long, mounted on two wheels. Hooked to the back end of the freezer was the rear half of a bicycle. The entire front end pivoted, so the driver could pedal the bicycle, steering it wherever he wanted to go. Oh boy, would I like to have that job someday.
An older boy named Tom McCracken was hired to pedal the cart and sell ice cream all over town. I figured the more I could learn about what he did, the better my chances of getting that job when I got a little older. So I rode my bicycle beside him, and we talked as he worked. What a great job he had. All the kids loved it when they saw him, or when they heard his bell.
At the end of the day, he even took me through the doors at the rear of the store on Plum Street. He showed me how to transfer the ice cream and dry ice to the store’s freezer, and how to record and balance his sales for the day. There was a lot to learn, but I was making progress. And I could see that I might have a career in the dairy business ahead of me. I might have to wait a couple years, until I got older, but it would be worth the wait to get a great job like that.
The next summer, however, at the age of 13 or 14, I decided to forget about the dairy business and pursue a career in a different area of agriculture. I got a job detasseling corn. That wasn’t among the better decisions I made as a kid. I don’t know if you have ever detasseled corn, but believe me … it’s a far cry from selling ice cream bars.
(Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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