It’s interesting how many of my childhood memories seem to revolve around food: freshly popped popcorn from the pan on Saturday nights; sundaes at Costa’s ice cream; frothy milkshakes at Newberry’s and Woolworth’s 5&10 department stores in downtown New Brunswick, N.J.
Another such memory is having food delivered directly to our door, by the milkman and the bread man. I remember a slight fellow that brought our milk and placed the glass bottles in a special metal box on our back porch a couple times a week. Seems to me the dairy was Borden’s, and the image of Elsie the Cow adorned the side of the milk truck.
For some reason I think the milkman’s first name was Roy, but I’m not sure why I’d recall that. Seems he wore a white uniform with a black cloth belt (no, I don’t think he was a karate expert) and a bowtie. During the winter, of course, we had to make certain to bring the bottled milk in promptly so it wouldn’t freeze and shatter the glass.
He would bring whole milk, but sometimes he would also leave a bottle of chocolate milk or buttermilk. Cottage cheese and sour cream might have been part of the delivery from time to time as well. No skim milk or one percent fat milk in those days. And no one knew anything yet about lactose intolerance. Maybe people were more tolerant then.
The guy who drove the bread truck – I have no idea what his name was – actually would bring the bread into our home on shallow trays. The brand that he brought in was Bond Bread, even though the most popular brand of that time – at least to me – was Wonder Bread, with the bright red, yellow and blue balloons featured on the wrapper. Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob Smith did wonders for Wonder Bread on their weekly shows, but when the bread man came, it was Bond Bread.
The best thing about these weekly visits was they weren’t limited to just bread. We could select from all kinds of snacks as well – iced cupcakes, some of them cream-filled, little donuts, and assorted other sugary delights. He’d bring in a tray loaded with the baked goods and we’d select what we wanted.
I vividly remember snack cakes like Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes and Sno-Balls, but don’t think they accompanied the bread man when he visited our home. Wrong bakery. But like any good bakery, the Bond people provided plenty of viable alternatives.
Think of it – a personal visit from the bread man. Seems such an alien concept these days. But back then, it was a time when you didn’t fear letting strangers into your home. There was no worry someone would “case the joint,” or afflict all manner of mayhem on you and your loved ones.
It was simply the way business was done. Everyone was doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and for some that meant paying regular visits to private homes, whether you were selling milk or bread, or were the Fuller Brush salesman – which is another story for another day.