I'm not a million years old, but in many ways I might as well be.
I live in an era of tablets, social networks and i-this-and-i-that, and I have (very) imperfectly adapted. But I grew up in something else.
This was the kind of thing I heard, and saw, when I was a child. This is how we got our milk every day. Yes, this way.
Cloppa, cloppa, cloppa down the street every morning, very early. Snorting and whinnying. It was a little girl's paradise. Every morning I'd rush out the front door with a carrot.
Oh that smell, that I love to this day, the smell of horses!
I used to try to tell my children about this, and they rolled their eyes and said I was lying. Surely horse-drawn wagons ended some time in the 1890s.
But they didn't. They delivered milk, not to mention fruits and vegetables, well into the 1960s.
This is a wagon from Bracebridge Dairy. All these wagons have a three-digit phone number on them, incomprehensible. I remember the name Bracebridge - somewhere in Northern Ontario, I think (a name I haven't heard in so long, like the old street names in Chatham, that it gives me an odd sort of thrill). We had Silverwood Dairies, mostly in southern Ontario but also, I believe, in parts of Alberta out west.
I just thought of something! My first real job was in the purchasing department of Silverwood Dairies in London, Ontario. My job had nothing to do with the milk, but I do remember filling out endless requisition forms for various ingredients. I was also on the taste panel for new products, one of which was artificial ham.
Supposedly, this is the very last Silverwood's wagon in existence. A picture both beautiful and sad. Accounts vary as to exactly when they were phased out: some say 1960, others 1964. If it was '64, I'd have very clear memories of it. But it seems incredible we got our milk this way right into the Space Age.
Bottles were still clinking together then, but no longer had the cream-top bulge that you skimmed with a little dipper. Later when I lived in Alberta, our post-war bungalow had a little cabinet at the back, the place where the milkman left the bottles and picked up the note for next day's order. Without the cabinet, the milk would freeze in the 40-below weather and the bottles burst open.
This is one of my favorites. By the look of the cars, it seems to have been taken in the early 1950s. The horse, looking intimidated, is completely surrounded by traffic. I wonder how everyone managed. Did the horses have the right of way? What about the road apples?
Did any of them ever spook and take off at a gallop? Horses will be horses, after all.
More to the point, I wonder why everyone seems to have forgotten all about this. Like the elusive, mysterious Skeezix bird, it belongs to a past that now seems more like a mirage.
People collect dairy memorabilia now the way they collect old weather vanes or butter churns. I suppose back then, men with cold hands milked those cows every morning. It would be bottled by some primitive method, sealed with a cardboard cap. This was before the days of "homo milk", milk that had magically been homogenized so that you could no longer skim the rich yellowy cream off the top.
I wonder if there's still such a thing as "homo milk".