The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Milk…

A cow milking machine

Southwest Elementary class trip in the 1950s to a dairy that had milking machines like these

it does a body good.

Raise your hand, if you drank milk from a glass bottle like this at home, or if your mother used milk from glass bottles for cooking. Do you remember the Milk Man?

I remember Mama, my grandmother Drue Peebles, leaving the empty milk bottles by the front door. The number of bottles left at the door indicated the number of filled bottles that the milk man was to leave by the front door. Even now, I can recall the clink of the bottles against the metal wire carrier that the milk man used to transport the milk bottles from the milk truck to the front porch. the cream skimmed off the top was a decadent delight.

There have been several dairies in the Shoals area but I know of none that exist today. I recall a field trip when I attended Southwest Elementary in Sheffield to the dairy farm. The dairy farm property is located across the highway from Hardee’s on Highway 72 in Muscle Shoals. The buildings are still there, or at least were when I was last by there. But the dairy yielded to progress years ago. There we saw them milking the cows. There was a big picture window where we stood to watch the milking process from outside the building.  There were several metal rails that resembled cattle chutes. They herded the cows in and lined them up to the milking machines. Iirc, the name of this dairy farm was Glendale.

I recall feeling sorry for the cows. Now bulls won’t understand my sympathy, but cows should. I considered at this young age, how that it is only the female that has to undergo such, er treatment….and if I recall correctly, it was twice a day. Of course, I was too young to understand what engorged breasts might feel like in comparison then. But, again raise your hand if you will, I can now empathize with hands being used to pull and push and prod breasts into machines that further pull and push and prod.

The most important company for dairy to Sheffield was Streit Milk Company. It was located beyond the railroad tracks going toward Tuscumbia. I recall Paul Saywell Motors, Southern Sash, The American Legion Post and the Dairy Queen that became Dairy Kingas being nearby. Ideal Bread Company was on the other side of the street and could be accessed by going down Shop Pike. I remember Mama and Gran, Robert and Drue Peebles,  going there and buying the freshly cooked bread before it was sliced. The smell of the bread baking would make your mouth water. I also remember the ice man who would bring the giant cubes of crystal coldness to Mama’s house. With the big metal tongs he seemed to pick up and easily carry the heavy crystal clear dripping ice to her door. Sometimes I would be there when he would put the block of ice into Mama’s ice chest. She was the only person I ever knew who had an actual ice chest. But, I digress.

There was also the Dixie Dairy. It was located in Florence, Alabama. It started operation in 1938. But in 1947 Cloverdale Dairy bought them out.

There was also Rosedale Dairy located in Tuscumbia. It was a family dairy farm as well. After the owner died the farm was sold. Mary, who grew up on Rosedale family dairy grew up milking cows, hauling hay, slopping hogs, and feeding calves and chickens. She managed to buy three and a half acres and has aptly named it Rosedale Garden.  Read more about her here. She is a remarkable lady – a real GRITS.

Below are photos of Streit Milk Company glass bottles. Please feel free to add your memories and photos.

Streit Milk Company Sheffield Alabama
Photo of the two glass milk bottles courtesy of David Turner

Evidently Streit operated in the county before it opened up as Streit Milk Company in downtown Sheffield, Alabama. The antebellum home located on Little Hatton school road was operated as a dairy farm, according to Wayne Austin who had a series of conversations with one of the Streit relatives some years ago. There was also a Streit Store operated in the Little Hatton area around the same time.

Streit Milk Company opened in Sheffield circa 1933. The owners were Charlie Streit. Charlie’s father was Christian Streit who was born in Switzerland in June of 1865. He immigrated in the 1880s, either at age 15 in 1880 or age 19 in 1884. He and wife, Annie, were in Colbert County, Alabama by 1900, possibly earlier. He lived in the Brickville area and died in Colbert County in October of 1937 at age 72.
 
Annie and some of the children were born in Iowa according to census records and reported by Albert Streit. Christian and Annie Streit had the following known children: Minnie Streit 1893 –   , Ida Streit 1895 –  ,  Albert Streit 1897 –   , Nettie Streit 1899 –   , Charles Charlie Streit 1901 – 1988, Sadie S Streit whose name was sometimes interpreted as Sallie on census records born 1902 or 1904–   , David Streit 1910 – 2001, and Esther Streit 1913 –  .
 
The next owners were Charlie Streit and his wife Dallas E Whitlock Streit. Their known children are Martha M Streit who was born 1924 and son Charles G Streit born 1928. Both Martha and Charlie may have had a hand in running the family dairy business, but it is certain that Martha M Streit did.
 
Martha M Streit married a Foote, I believe it must have been James Rhea Foote. What I remember most are the photos of the Foote children on all the calendars that came from Streit Milk Company. There was always one hanging at Mama and Gran’s house, along with a Farmer’s Almanac. 
 
I am not sure when Streit Milk Company closed but I do not remember their milk coming in cardboard cartons. My uncles worked at Streit Milk Company in the 1950s. I am all but certain my uncle Rayburn Peebles started working there when he was a pre-teen; and possibly so did his brother R. D. Peebles. And responses here indicate that a lot of the people from the Shoals started their work life at Streit Milk Company.
 
Barbara Strange commented:

How well I remember the Milkman!

My dad worked at Streit Milk Company back when I was a girl. He would get up at 2:30 every morning and begin his work day at 3:00. He would load his truck and run his “retail” route, delivering milk to homes. I don’t remember much about his route but I do remember that he delivered milk on Park Blvd.

When he finished his route, he would come home for breakfast. We would be up, getting ready for school, and we would have breakfast together, the whole family. Daddy would have his truck loaded for his “wholesale” route when he delivered milk to cafes, grocery stores and schools. I remember seeing him bring milk to Atlanta Avenue Junior High School right after school began each day. Some of the places I remember hearing him talk about delivering milk to – Liberty and Bingo Super Markets, Blankinship and T. T. Stanley Markets, Victory and Brewer’s Café.

He would be finished with his day and be home by dinner time (we did not have “lunch” in those days – it would have been pretentious). Mother would cook a big meal, they would eat, and the rest was for supper.

I remember those small bottles of chocolate milk and I remember when they began selling the orange drink in those same bottles.

Remember when cream for coffee in restaurants came in those little bitty glass bottles? I have a couple of those.

I remember that our milk at school came in ½ pint glass bottles with the cardboard pull tab for a cap.

[snip] Daddy left the milk company and worked construction when the Ford plant was being built. From there he went to the Sheffield Post Office where he worked until he retired. He carried mail to many of the house to which he had delivered milk. Precious memories! [snip]

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9 responses

  1. How well I remember the Milkman!

    My dad worked at Streit Milk Company back when I was a girl. He would get up at 2:30 every morning and begin his work day at 3:00. He would load his truck and run his “retail” route, delivering milk to homes. I don’t remember much about his route but I do remember that he delivered milk on Park Blvd.

    When he finished his route, he would come home for breakfast. We would be up, getting ready for school, and we would have breakfast together, the whole family. Daddy would have his truck loaded for his “wholesale” route when he delivered milk to cafes, grocery stores and schools. I remember seeing him bring milk to Atlanta Avenue Junior High School right after school began each day. Some of the places I remember hearing him talk about delivering milk to – Liberty and Bingo Super Markets, Blankinship and T. T. Stanley Markets, Victory and Brewer’s Café.

    He would be finished with his day and be home by dinner time (we did not have “lunch” in those days – it would have been pretentious). Mother would cook a big meal, they would eat, and the rest was for supper.

    I remember those small bottles of chocolate milk and I remember when they began selling the orange drink in those same bottles.

    Remember when cream for coffee in restaurants came in those little bitty glass bottles? I have a couple of those.

    I remember that our milk at school came in ½ pint glass bottles with the cardboard pull tab for a cap.

    I have a picture of Daddy standing beside his Streit Milk Company truck. If I ever get around to purchasing a printer/scanner, I plan to post that picture on “I Love Sheffield”.

    Daddy left the milk company and worked construction when the Ford plant was being built. From there he went to the Sheffield Post Office where he worked until he retired. He carried mail to many of the house to which he had delivered milk. Precious memories!

    The dairy you visited in school was owned and operated by I. M. Glenn. I remember that daiy. We went to church with the Glenn’s at Annapolis Avenue Church of Christ.

    February 26, 2011 at 10:24 pm

  2. David Turner

    Nice story about Streit. Great memories too. Thanks.

    February 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm

  3. What lovely memories, thanks to all of you for sharing with us. YES, I do remember Streit Milk Company so well! I grew up in Muscle Shoals when it was called Highland Park & only a few streets there at that time. Streit Milk was delivered to our house and it is the only milk we kids would drink. One day our Daddy decided he would put that to a taste….he took an empty Streit Milk bottle, filled it with another brand of milk and that was poured for us at supper. YES, we kids knew it was NOT our Streit Milk!! That convinced our Daddy and only Streit in our house after that :o)

    I remember those glass bottles. Also remember the little Streit creamers for coffee served in restaurants. My husband who is a flea market/trader man came across lots of those by the case, purchased them and sold for a good profit…….but this was after I got what I wanted, kept 2 for myself and gave others to my Daddy and my siblings. You can still read the words on the creamers.

    I also remember the ICE MAN stopping at our house when he made his rounds on our street… we had that old fashioned refrig at that time……and got that big chunk of ice it seems every day but not sure how often.

    Also recall the vegetable or produce man working our street and Mother buying those so fresh veggies from him!

    Where are those days? I do love our modern conveniences we have now, but those were sweet and wonderful memories……things we don’t get today.

    Again, thanks for the memories!

    February 27, 2011 at 8:41 am

  4. Pingback: Dope Wagons and Bottles of Milk « Tarheeltalker

  5. Maebeth Worsham

    Does anyone have info on a Williams Milk Company in Sheffield, I found a bottle in my house on Gordon Drive in sheffield that was built in 1919.

    July 20, 2011 at 2:35 am

  6. Greg Mardis

    My grand dad, Les Ford, worked at Streight Milk in the 60’s. My brother and I would visit him there and he would show us around the dairy next to the tracks in Sheffield. I remember him putting us in milk crates and riding us on a conveyer belt in the packing plant. We also had home delivery in Florence up until the company was sold to Pet Milk. I still have a sky blue work shirt with the red and white logo over the pocket that he wore.

    September 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm

  7. I married Jennifer L. Wright, who is the granddaughter of Martha Streit Foote. She and her brother Bud are both still living. Bud has just recounted some wonderful stories about the milk company and his family.

    March 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    • Would there be some way to contact the brother or Jennifer to encourage them to share some stories of Streit Milk?

      April 15, 2013 at 3:29 am

      • John C. Mauk

        Mrs. Greer,

        I got to hear some of the stories about the early days of the Streit milk company, while Martha was straying with us doing her illness. Bud came by to see her one day, and the two of them talked about the good ole days. Bud lives in Stenson Holloar in their parents old home. I will try to get his email address for you and send it to you. Neither Jennifer, nor Martha care for the computer at all. And as of last Tuesday, Martha’s daughters had her moved to Morniingside.

        Sincerely

        John C. Mauk

        _____

        April 16, 2013 at 6:07 am

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