Why did milk truck drivers drive standing up?


#1

Anybody remember when they brought your milk to your doorstep each morning? I’ve told this to people and they don’t believe me. But it is true, years ago you didn’t buy milk at the grocery store. You’d wake up and find it on the porch, in a box provided by the milk company. You’d leave a note to tell them what to bring next time. I always tried to change the note to add a bottle of chocolate milk … lol

Anyway, the weird thing about those milk trucks, the driver stood standing up for some reason. At least that’s what I recall. I got to wondering why.

Why would it make sense for a milk truck driver to drive stand up? The only thing I could think of, it might make more room in the truck for the milk.


#2

Many of those trucks were battery powered and didn’t require clutch operation. If you are only driving to the next house, why bother to sit down?


#3

The driver didn’t have to waste time standing up and getting past a seat to get to the back of the truck for your milk, and then exiting the front door. IIRC, the Divco milk truck of my childhood was also right hand drive, and there was a seat that hinged up to be out of the way. If UPS and FedEx ever find out about this phenomenon, their drivers will shave absolute MINUTES off of each delivery route.


#4

They weren’t allowed to wrinkle their uniforms.


#5

When I was a kid milk was delivered to us like that; and in glass bottles to boot.

My maternal grandparents were farmers and much of what they ate was grown or made by themselves.
Milk was squeezed right out of the cow into 1 gallon glass jugs, ropes tied around the necks of the jugs, and the jugs were then lowered into the well overnight.
The next morning the top was skimmed and the best ice cold milk ever was available.

Modern processing has just about diluted and killed milk to the point it’s only a shell of itself.

Many years ago I was talking to a Mistletoe truck driver and he showed me his clipboard which had all of his stops for the day. Corporate has those guys whittled down to parts of a minute.

He may have had 40 or 50 stops that day and the schedule went something like this:
Arrive ABC Company at 9:23 A.M.
Depart ABC Company at 9: 28 A.M.
Arrive XYZ Company at 9:34 A.M.
Depart XYZ Company at 9: 37 A.M.

Needless to say, it didn’t take much of a hiccup in traffic or during the stop to throw the entire thing out of whack.


#6

Yep, the neighbor drove a milk truck. They would make many stops and need to get product out of the back and think it was just easier to stand. I do believe you could also sit and drive, but try jumping inand out of a truck all morning and it’s hard on the knees.


#7

Our family not only got milk…we had potato chips in a can delivered as well as doughnuts. Those were the days. I also remember my grandmother getting meat delivered right to her freezer. I also remember that our milkman drove the delivery truck standing up. I always thought it was because he had so many stops to make up and down the street. No time to sit down and get comfortable.


#8

Wow, I’m in my early 40’s and I can just barely vaguely remember the milkman. Got a vague memory of my mom discussing the milk order. By the time I was in 1st grade the milkman was history. And talk about potato chips, donuts, meat being delivered, funny how things come full circle. Nowadays some grocery stores let you order your groceries online and they deliver direct to your doorstep. Around here the big one is called PeaPod, I think Safeway has something similar. I think I read something about Uber or Lyft maybe partnering with grocery stores to deliver groceries.

In the summer around here, a guy comes around sometimes selling frozen steaks and shrimp out of the back of a van, but I’ve never bought anything from him. I like to buy my food from someplace with a fixed address, who knows where that meat in the back of the van has been?


#9

very nice to hear these memories…on the North shore of Oahu ,Mr Henry would screw down the lid over wax paper on 1 gallon glass jars.of milk…and I would ask him to weld / braze my down pipe when he had time (on my Maico and Yamaha)


#10

I remember the milk man bringing the milk in glass bottles and leaving them outside in the metal box. Our milk man sat down when he drove. I miss the the good old days!!!


#11

@Ed Frugal, I can state with authority that those traveling meat vendors are the ultimate BS artists. My wife is a lifelong bookkeeper (several large retail companies, bank, and also the town clerk/treasurer) and she is brilliant with the financial books. The corporate officers of a large retailer even offered her a position once as a traveling auditor; which she turned down.
However, under our roof she goes completely clueless.

I came in one evening and she told me that she had bought some meat from a traveling vendor.
How much?
450 dollars worth.
Where did you put it?
In the freezer in the refrigerator.
No way is 450 dollars worth of meat going into a fridge freezer.
Well, it did.
Uh oh…

So I grab the hazy receipt and start doing the numbers and remember, this is 20 years ago.

That 1.79 per T-bone steak? The fine print is 1.79 per SERVING which is defined as 1 ounce.

Chicken strips at 1.25 per? The fine print is per SERVING which is defined as 2 ounces.

Hamburger at 1 dollar per? The fine print is per SERVING which is defined as 2 ounces.

Note that the prices are not per pound as insinuated. Do the math on on that T-bone steak and keep in mind this is on meat pricing 20 years ago…

Needless to say, all hell broke loose between me and her. I will also add that over half the meat was thrown out because to be honest, it was garbage.

The next guys came around when I was here and I told them bluntly to go away.
The next bunch had a guy who got a bit belligerent when I told him to take that junk and go away. For a few seconds I thought he was going to assault me until I picked up my stubby riot gun which I keep just inside the door and told him he was leaving one way or the other. He left then…

A local TV station did a hidden camera story about that company which operates out of OK City.
The supervisor can be seen and heard telling someone to “take that spoiled hamburger meat and give it to (name not remembered) because he’s good at unloading that kind of stuff”.


#12

When I was a kid, back in the '50s, in addition to having our milk delivered we also got baked goods from the Dugan’s Bakery driver who came around every couple of days. Dugan’s was apparently a fairly large regional company in the NY/NJ Metro area, and they used Divco trucks that were essentially similar to the ones used by the milk delivery guys.

The driver would come to your back door with a large basket filled with the selection for the day, and–at least to a young kid–they were very good.

At one point, there was a strike at the Thomas’ English Muffin factory, and Dugan’s used this event to do a brief advertising campaign. I can still remember the radio commercials that announced…Thomas’ promises, but…Dugan’s delivers!

After Dugan’s went out of business (some time in the late '60s, I think), there was a huge lot on Route 1 in Elizabeth, NJ that was filled with Dugan’s delivery trucks, waiting for buyers or for the scrap heap.

Ah…memories…


#13
When I was a kid milk was delivered to us like that; and in glass bottles to boot.

Same here. Stopped in most parts of the country around the country in the mid 60’s. Although there’s a small dairy in Lowell MA that still delivers.

Modern processing has just about diluted and killed milk to the point it's only a shell of itself.

Thank god for that. If I owned a farm…thus knowing the exact source of the milk…then I agree with that …but without knowing the source and the bacteria that exists…I’m glad it’s pasteurized.

Growing up in the second largest region of dairy producing farmers in the country my family has always been huge milk drinkers…I personally drink 2 gallons a week. My two sons drink at least a gallon a week. When I was a teenager…We had to have a separate refrigerator for milk…between my dad, myself and my brothers…we went through 15+ gallons a week.

I still prefer glass bottles…but only been able to find them when I travel back to NY.


#14

“I still prefer glass bottles…but only been able to find them when I travel back to NY.”

Check your local Whole Foods Market. All of the ones in my area have milk in glass bottles available.


#15

Even Target has glass bottled milk now - at least the ones here in the Twin Cities do. But the best is Oberweiss Dairy, if you can find it.

Fun article on a guy who restored an old Divco truck: nytimes.com/2006/11/26/automobiles/collectibles/26DIVCO.html?n=Top%2FReference%2FTimes%20Topics%2FSubjects%2FA%2FAutomobiles&_r=0


#16

Don’t have a wholesfood anywhere near me. When I go back to NY to visit family…I can buy bottled milk almost anywhere…Byrne Dairy is the BEST.


#17

I remember home milk delivery well. The dairy furnished an insulated milk box. Our Irish Setter thought the milkman was his buddy. The delivery truck was made by Divco. It had a manual transmission with two sets of controls. One set was on the floor so the driver could operate the brake, clutch and accelerator while staring. There was another set of pedals that could be operated while the driver was seated. In addition, there was a throttle control on the end of the column shift. The engine was a Continental Red Seal and the transmission was a 3_speed manual. I did get to ride in the truck once standing up.


#18

Wow, I remember the milkman and his truck. The Divco looks like what he used to drive but I don’t remember him driving standing up. Not that I’d notice at that age. We had milktrucks and potato chips and pretzel trucks. We called him Charlie Chips but it wasn’t the label on the truck. Mike-Sells was the brand, I think. Local out of Dayton, Ohio.


#19

If you go to this site http://www.dugansbakers.com/page4.html and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, there is a nice photo of one of Dugan’s Divco trucks.


#20

Mike, even the Market Baskets by me have bottled milk. Small dairy produced. It’s in a separate cooler and priced appropriately. If you’re chugging down multiple gallons/week, it could get expensive…

I grew up in rural midwest. You could go down the road to the local farmer to get milk and eggs.