When I was a youngster, home delivery was much more prevelent than it is today. I’m talkin 1950’s-early 60’s. There were three main delivery services available in our neighborhood: milk, bread and laundry. And, oh yes, lots of folks got a weekly tin full of Charles Potato Chips. UPS was around then, too, but only for things like department store packages that were few and far between. In fact, my most embedded memory of UPS was seeing one of its box vans on it’s side down at the corner of my street. They used the same large brown trucks back then. I think the driver took the turn a little too quickly. It was, nonetheless, an impressive site seeing an entire UPS truck, packages and all, on its side just down the street. But I digress.
Milk came twice a week in glass quart bottles. After you finished a bottle, you rinsed it out and left it on the front step. Then on delivery day, the old bottles disappeared and were replaced with freshly filled bottles. There was always one bottle of chocolate milk (we were spoiled). Our milkman came fully dressed in a white uniform and cap. It was Brunniger’s milk (not sure it was spelled that way) and the trucks had a distinctive stubby appearance like the one pictured, except Brunniger’s trucks were mainly dark burgundy with yellow trim.
Bond Bread was a major brand in the 50’s. They used a lot of cowboy imagery in their advertising. Both the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy were featured. Hoppy was my favorite cowboy. The Bond Bread man carried a large tray with a wide handle that spanned side-to-side. It was full of baked goods. He’d bring it up to your front door and the lady of the house would make the big decision between the swirly coffee cake or the chocolate donuts…and a loaf of fresh Bond Bread, of course.
The laundry—that was my job. Every Monday I had to go around the house and change all the beds. I not only had to take off the dirty linens and stuff them all in one pillowcase, I had to remake each bed with fresh sheets. It was a hell of a job for a ten-year-old and I hated every minute of it…but it was my assigned job and back then kids followed orders.
After I stuffed all the sheets and my dad’s dress white shirts into a pillowcase, I would leave it between the front door and the outer screen door before I left for school the next morning. When I got home the pillow case was gone (its contents would return the following week) and in its place was a package of laundered sheets wrapped in brown paper and a cardboard box containing my Dad’s clean shirts.
We must have been rich because not everyone had the luxury of sending out their bedding to be cleaned each week. Both my parents worked, rare back then, and I know my mother did not want to spend her day off washing sheets. I also know that not everyone had a ten-year-old kid to change their beds every week. My brother must have had a corresponding chore of some sort to complete each week but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was. One side note, to keep my mind occupied while changing the beds, I used to blare the Sears tabletop HiFi record player throughout the house. We had just about every Sinatra record he ever made which is why today I still know most of the words to anything he sang.
Now, what got me started on this trip down memory lane you ask? Well, it’s a stretch, but I just finished making a composite picture of my bother and me when we were kids. Next to each child photo I placed a picture taken when we were adults, both in our 60’s (see below). I noted to my wife that as both kids and adults he and I never looked like brothers–not even close. I wondered out loud that maybe Mom was messin’ around with the milkman…or the breadman…or was it the lure of fresh sheets with the laundryman? Nah, I’m just jokin’. But that’s how all the above came to be. The thought occurred to me that I wouldn’t mind having an ice cream man making a weekly delivery to the house nowadays.
My brother, Paul, is on top…that’s me on the bottom.