In 2003 the Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine produced the exhibit “From Dairy to Doorstep: Milk Delivery in New England 1860 – 1960,” honoring the role the dairy industry played in Maine’s history and economy.
From the growth of New England cities after the Civil War to the 1950s this exhibit looks at how the dairy industry changed in New England from local dairy farmers to dairy sections in supermarkets. As the cities grew getting fresh dairy products became harder for people, as a result the dairy industry came up with the plan to deliver the products door-to-door. Here is a link to the online portion of the exhibit http://www.historicnewengland.org/collections-archives-exhibitions/online-exhibitions/From_Diary_to_Doorstep/index.htm and the page featuring historic pictures of Oakhurst Dairy’s dedicated milkmen. http://www.historicnewengland.org/collections-archives-exhibitions/online-exhibitions/From_Diary_to_Doorstep/page_11.htm
During the time the exhibition was up, the Maine Historical Society collected “memories” from visitors for whom the milkman of their childhood was often like a member of their family.
Best memory. I was in the first grade (1941) when I first had a milk break w/ milk in a carton. What a treat!!
M.J. Kemma – South Portland
As kids we would ask the milkman for a piece of ice to chew on – sometimes we would reach in ourselves and grab a chunk of ice when no one was looking. Late 50s.
G.C. Fiske – Vermont
We would get finished milking at 7PM and sneak back to the milk house a couple of hours later to get some “top milk” from the milk cans in the cooler. We would add chocolate and have a super treat.
Jeanne Wright – Windham, ME
I remember the jingle sound of the glass bottles being left by our door early in the morning.
Our milkman was like part of the extended family. He would walk into the house, leave fresh milk, eggs, cottage cheese, and take away the empty glass bottles. He knew all the names and had a good joke for us every time we saw him. Great childhood memories from the 1950’s – 1960’s.
Sandra Garland – Ft. Myers, FL
As a child, we got our milk from a small dairy at the end of our street. It was Emery Farm in Kittery Point, Maine. My brother delivered milk for them when he graduated from high school until he went in the Navy. I remember going to the farm on my bike and visiting the cows in the barn and watching the milk being bottled.
Judith Lailer – South Portland, ME
When I was a child in the 1940s & 50s our milkman was John Lund. He owned and worked for Lundy’s Dairy of South Portland in the Thornton Heights section of South Portland. He was a very nice man. My mother usually ordered 6 quarts of milk every other day. John Lund sometimes would come in the kitchen for coffee and my mother’s homemade doughnuts when delivering the milk. I remember the stories. Fond memories.
Greg McGovern – Falmouth, ME
My memories are very early…I was born into the Oakhurst “family.” My father was employed as the second milk delivery man in the early ‘20s. I remember his horse, Dynamite, having his stall in our small barn next to my Uncle Leo’s horse. My father’s name was Terry McGovern and he worked at the dairy with his brother Leo McGovern and Joe McGovern. He drove his horse and wagon for several years delivering milk in the Rosemont area of Portland. He then drove a truck with canvas sides with Oakhurst Dairy printed on the sides. He would come home after a busy day loaded with all the milk to be delivered well stacked in the truck and thoroughly iced down and covered with a canvas blanket. We were a family of fourteen children and it was great fun to sneak out for a small piece of ice. As the boys in our family grew, each one, or sometimes two, would have to work with dad. He would drive and we would do the running. We often had to deliver with several bottles in our hands and climb three floors.
When it was just about time for my turn to work with dad the war started and being the youngest of eight sons, I watched as all the older boys left to serve their country. Dad and I worked alone throughout the war. I had to get up at 3:30 a.m., have a full breakfast, and off we would go. After the deliveries were made, I came home and got ready for school. In the innocent world in which we lived at that time it was not uncommon to find the milk money in the bottles, or find a note asking us to wake up the kids for school, or put the milk inside the fridge, because the family was away. I didn’t really love working as hard as I did, but today I cherish these memories as priceless.
At one time there were six McGovern’s employed full time at Oakhurst Dairy.
Marci Train – Long Island, ME
I am the youngest of four children. All of my older sisters had elaborate baby books. Mine, however, is compliments of Oakhurst Dairy from our milkman Weimer. South Portland, 1970.
G. Callan Rogers
My dad worked for Oakhurst Dairy for many years and also Cushman Bakery – Sebasco, Bath, Popham – my brother Dick Callan took over his route when dad died – James Callan – We all five of us helped on the route and have many happy memories of the family at Oakhurst in Bath.
When I was really small, the milkman had a new white truck with refrigeration. He was very proud of it. He’d leave the milk (in glass quarts) in a metal box on our back porch. If I could wake up before my sisters, I’d sneak out and lift all the cardboard caps up to lick off the cream. Then I’d replace them so mom would never know.
In the afternoon, the milkman returned with a horse and cart to delivery fruits and vegetables. I’d beg for a nickel from my mom so I could buy an apple. Then I’d feed it to the deliveryman’s horse.
Once a week the “Hathaway Man” came to deliver bread and pastries.
The Maine Historical Society is the third oldest state historical society in the nation, incorporated in 1822, just after Maine achieved statehood. Located in downtown Portland, the Maine Historical Society is comprised of the Longfellow House and Garden, the MHS Museum, the Brown Library, and the Maine Memory Network website, a statewide online museum and archive. The Maine Historical Society preserves the heritage and history of Maine: the stories of Maine people, the traditions of Maine communities, and the record of Maine’s place in a changing world. For more information, visit www.mainehistory.org.