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Category:  General History
Published:  June, 2006

Can You Remember When People Delivered Stuff?

By Al Owens
This is my history lesson for today, but only if you’re under 40. If you’re over 40, consider this plain old nostalgia. There was a time when people used to bring milk to your house! Yep! And in those days there were no such things as cartons. We got bottles of the stuff.

And we’d have to shake it up, because there’d be cream that would collect near the top of the bottle.
Oh I know you’re thinking, so what? Well it matters to me. I’m getting old. I need to cling to a few memories ever so often. And I have lots of those things. Like going to the market on Saturday mornings with my mother - and then going home to wait for somebody to deliver the groceries. We didn’t have a car in the 1950’s. Not many people did.
So our house on Coolspring Street always seemed to have somebody delivering something!
Television repair, (young people probably don’t know the beauty of that phrase do they) used to be an art form. I can remember a guy named Lloyd Jenkins who’d come to the house, pull the television set out from the wall, and spend most of his time answering my stupid question. That was before he’d get our old Philco up and running again. I’ve always respected Mr. Jenkins ‘cause he had to put up with dozens of kids, with dozens of stupid questions in those days. But he always managed to show grace under fire!

Most kids wanted to be fire fighters, or police officers, or cowboys in those days. I wanted to be a television repairman! That is until my parents put an old floor model in my bedroom and warned me not to touch until we could get Mr. Jenkins to come, answer my stupid questions and fix the thing. I couldn’t wait. I turned it on. It started smoldering. We called the fire department. They took it outside. They put it out! It was the first time I’d ever made the Uniontown Newspaper. It was the last time I wanted to become a television repairman.

When Mr. Jenkins wasn’t there, a doctor would drop by. That’s right boys and girls! Doctors used to come to your house. They used to call them “house calls”. I don’t know why. I never saw a a single doctor pick up our telephone and make a single call. He’d leave through the front door and an insurance man would appear ‘round back. He’d finish talking about a lot of stuff I never quite understood, then go out through the front door passing the Charles Chips guy on the sidewalk.

The Charles Chips guy stayed long enough to sell us a can of the best potato chips (this side of Dimarco’s) in the world.
He’d leave and some guy named Mr. Lamonica would come from the Jewel T Company. I never wanted Mr. Lamonica to leave. He’d always hand me a couple of sticks of Wrigley’s Spearmint. He could have become a family member if that had been his wish.

Ah, the days when people didn’t mind going from house-to-house sharing their wares, delighting us kids and using their own fuel!

I can remember people coming along in pick-up trucks, selling peaches, apples and watermelons out of the backs of them. I can remember all manner of produce only a sidewalk away. Now that’s service. That was life in the 1950’s. That’s when cars were little more than curiosities up there on the East End. They were Just things that passed us by.

Sure we still have mail carriers and newspaper carriers. But in those days, they were only part of the legion of Avon callers, hucksters, Bible/Watchtower and dictionary sellers, vacuum cleaner sales persons, and just plain old people who connected all of us to Commerce America!

I can just image the generation before mine. I’ve heard about people who actually came to your house and sold you ice. They say that’s because people had “Ice Boxes”, with real ice inside them, instead of today’s refrigerators. Man that must’ve been the life!