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Muscatine
Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Milkman

Mike Ruby
A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

Muscatine Living

A few weeks ago, while looking for something in our basement, I ran across a glass milk bottle with the name of the dairy in my hometown. That sure stirred up a lot of memories.

Up until the late 1950s my family, along with most families in town, depended on the milkman to supply us with fresh milk and other dairy products, always delivered to our back porch early in the morning two days each week. Even though I was in bed when he arrived, oftentimes I heard the clanging of the glass bottles in the metal crate or the slamming of the screen door.

Mother regularly paid our bill by putting cash in an envelope and leaving it on the porch to be picked up early the next morning, along with our rinsed bottles to be returned. I remember Mother ordering cottage cheese in metal tumblers and over several months she collected all 8 colors. We used them as everyday drinking glasses for decades, and I still remember the clinking of the ice cubes in the metal glasses as we drank Kool-Aid.

Grandpa lived with us for several months each year, and occasionally he requested a quart of buttermilk. He loved that special treat and one day offered me a sip. That was the one and only time I ever tasted that nasty stuff. The milkman had chocolate milk in his truck, but Mother never ordered it, not even on special occasions like my birthday. She said we could make it ourselves cheaper with chocolate syrup. Subject closed.

With the opening of the first big supermarket in town, our buying habits changed. We purchased milk in half gallon cartons and soon switched to gallon jugs. The familiar truck driven by the friendly man dressed in white was quickly fading from the home delivery scene. Most of his deliveries were now made to neighborhood grocery stores and large supermarkets.

Yes, those days of having milk delivered to our doorstep are gone but it’s fun to recall the memories. One thing is for sure, I plan to keep my glass milk bottle and hopefully have the opportunity to talk with our grandson about the good ol’ days when milk was purchased differently than it is today. He may think I’m just making up the story.

What memories do you have of the Milkman making deliveries to your house?

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