May 9th, 2014

Another oldie but goodie

Lesley Stahl interviews her mother. How old do you think her mother is?:

She’s 95. Astounding. What a lovely woman!

My mother, born a few years earlier than Ruthy Stahl, also called the refrigerator the icebox. And I, quite a few years younger than both, remember when most of our groceries were delivered to the house: fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, milk, and bread, all from different sources.

The bread came regularly; the milk likewise, left by the milkman in a little wooden box outside the kitchen door. The meat and fish my mother ordered over the telephone from the butcher and the fish guy. But the fruits and vegetables were the best, delivered by a man who came a couple of times a week in a large truck that was a traveling fruit and vegetable stand where you could go outside and see the display. One side could be lifted up, and underneath were open bins of fruits and vegetables like in a grocery store.

He’d come inside the house and sit down at the kitchen table and schmooze, telling us what was best that day and freshest in the fruit and vegetable line. He knew I loved red peppers, and in those days they weren’t always available, but he’d give me one as a special treat whenever they were. I still remember how good they tasted.

14 Responses to “Another oldie but goodie”

  1. Oldflyer Says:

    Good stuff Neo.

    She is a marvel.

    I enjoyed the stories of grocery deliveries. One of my early jobs was working at a neighborhood grocery. I would deliver small orders on my bike with a home-made basket attached to the handle bar. If there were larger orders or several to go, the grocer would drive a panel truck and I would run them to the door.

    The Grocer was a neighbor of Syrian descent. I learned a lot from him. I learned to sweep a floor without stirring up dust. Never realized there was a technique for that until he pointedly informed me that I did not know how to sweep. I also learned that getting a Saturday off was a ridiculous notion, even if your Dad had tickets to the University of Florida-Alabama football game.

  2. skullbuster Says:

    You forgot the egg man. He was separate and would deliver brown or white.

    The milkman would leave the milk on the porch in the shade. If left in the sun you would get an “off” taste.

  3. T Says:

    In the neighborhood we actually had a few (very few) vendors who would walk the streets. The one I remember most was a fellow who would sharpen knives. He had a foot pedal grinding wheel on a frame (with small wheels so it could be pulled). From it, hung an assortment of knives. I think about today and the furor it would raise to see an elderly man walking down the street with a dozen knives.

    I also remember taking large ice chips from an ice truck. We has one mom & pop convenience store that had never converted to electric and all the cold cases in the store were, literally, iceboxes.

  4. Don Carlos Says:

    “What a lovely lady.” Yeah, she mothered a lovely daughter, didn’t she. I pay more attention to product than process.

  5. Sgt. Mom Says:

    My mother held out for the very last commercial dairy who did deliveries in that part of the San Fernando Valley – very late 1970s to early 1980s, maybe. I’m rather vague on the last time I saw this, but I do recall that he did milk, eggs, cream and yoghurt. He’d come in through the back door, open the fridge, assess what there was, suggest what we needed that he saw we were short of … and there we were.

    Trying to imagine that today.

  6. Susanamantha Says:

    I remember all those home deliveries. I also remember the ragman, who would walk the streets pushing his cart piled high with cloth bits, yelling “Ragman. Ragman.” If we had any old rags no longer suitable for using as cleaning cloths, we would give them to him. No paper towels in those days so rags were handy for us until they were too holey to be of use.

  7. neo-neocon Says:



  8. Beverly Says:

    Speaking of changing times: Wretchard posted this at the Belmont Club.

    Wow. Just, wow.

  9. Lizzy Says:

    My mom just mentioned how nice it was back in the 60’s when she could walk to the grocery store, make her purchase, and then shortly after she arrived home the grocery store would deliver the groceries. Also, remember when someone else would fill your gas tank? Things are lot less service-oriented, and much less friendly nowdays.

    But I must tell you that I still have my milk delivered along with other dairy items. It’s a local dairy, and it’s their milk/their cows – so the selling point (in addition to delivery!) is that the milk always tastes the same. So good.

  10. Oldflyer Says:

    Talk of ice men and so on reminds me that when I was very young, but old enough to know, one of the route delivery men was also the Bolita (numbers) dealer. Mom and all of the neighbor ladies would buy whatever they needed and place their bets on whatever number they dreamed of the night before.

  11. davisbr Says:

    Amazon Fresh. What’s old is new.

    …as it ever was since days of auld.

    I recall the milk bottles jingling. Rinsing them out (in hot! soapy water) when empty, and setting them out to be picked up the next morning. Local dairy. Real “recycling” when it wasn’t just a feel good PC fad donchaknow.

    The milk was whole milk, with butter fats that would rise to the top. I still crave the stuff.

    Five kids. We went through at least a gallon a day.

    I loved that truck.

  12. J.J. Says:

    We had an icebox. The icehouse was about a 1/4 mile from our house. My older brother and I would take a wagon over and get a block of ice that just fit in the icebox compartment. As I recall the ice would last about two weeks. We had the chore of emptying the drip pan, which caught the melting ice water.

    Our village was too small (500-800 people) for differing food vendors. We had a small grocery store with a limited selection of foods, but it sufficed.

    We did have a dairy and milk was delivered early in the morning. My first summer job at 14 was as a helper on the milk delivery run for the dude ranches and guest lodges in the area. It was a twenty-five mile route that took most of a day to cover. I carried cans of milk and cartons of quarts from the truck into the lodges’ cold storage rooms. Healthy work for a growing boy.

    By the way, Mark Rippetoe, the author of “Starting Strength,” recommends drinking one gallon of whole milk a day if you want to pack on muscle. Don’t know if it works, but he has gained a big rep among those who want to get stronger.

    Should I live to be 95, I would pray to be as sharp as Ruthy. Heck, I would like to be as sharp as she is today. 🙂

  13. Ymarsakar Says:

    By the way, Mark Rippetoe, the author of “Starting Strength,” recommends drinking one gallon of whole milk a day if you want to pack on muscle. Don’t know if it works, but he has gained a big rep among those who want to get stronger.

    Milk has complete protein acid and amino acids. That means that muscle rebuilding can proceed without bottlenecks. There are other sources of complete protein, but harder to digest due to being in solid form.

    The human body finds it easier to metabolize protein and fat, then carbohydrates. Mostly because carbs are stored as glycogen in muscles. If they aren’t used, the liver has to reprocess them.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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