Dad drove his personal truck to dairy farms every day to pick up milk that he delivered to the Polk Milk Co., 1100 E. 15th St., where it was processed, pasteurized and bottled.
The weather was often a problem. The milk was moved from the farms to the dairy in 8- and 10-gallon steel cans, which were loaded onto a simple truck with an insulated box-type body bolted to the frame. Since the part that held the cans was not cooled by anything but the cans, it was important in the summer to pick up the milk in the early morning and quickly get to the dairy.
If there was a snowstorm, many of the roads that Dad needed to travel might be covered with drifted snow and not passable. If that was the case, the farmers loaded the cans onto a large wagon and pulled it to the closest passable road to meet my father. Sometimes a farmer would have the milk from two or three of his closest neighbors too.
Before the filled cans could be loaded onto the truck, the empty ones from the day before needed to be unloaded and returned to the farms. All of the cans were numbered to identify the farm and the delivery route.
If a farm had nine cans on the truck, all nine cans needed to be unloaded together. I’m sure the farmers and my dad would have enjoyed having cellphones to communicate on those snowy days. Identification chips on the cans would have been nice also. All of that information could have been delivered to a computer in seconds.
Dad also faced a big problem in maintaining and repairing his truck. His milk truck was used every day, and he did not have a spare one. As well as I can remember, none of the drivers had spare trucks. They had to have a good plan in place to ensure that their trucks stayed in good working order at all times.
I remember a couple of garages that Dad used on our way from the dairy to our house on Madison Avenue. One of them was Hardsock’s Garage on Virginia Avenue. The building is still there, and it always brings back memories.
After Dad had his route for a few years, he purchased a brand-new truck from Harry A. Sharp Co. on Virginia Avenue. I’m sure this purchase made his route much easier. A few years later he traded that truck for a new one again at Sharp.
On occasion, especially during those early days, I was my dad’s assistant mechanic when something needed repair in our driveway. Dad and I each had our specialties. Mine was holding the flashlight when it was dark.
As I look back on those days, my dad had a big responsibility. He didn’t have a backup driver if he was sick; he had no spare truck if his was broken; and he had no way to contact the farmers if there was a problem. ... But he did have an assistant mechanic with a good flashlight.