it does a body good.
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.
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.
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]
you are going to need them.
Got your tissues? Okay.
now, that was a very hard time for everybody.
Before they were married they would walk around in Courtland. Once while they were walking a bear was there, right
there in a yard of a home that still exists today. It must have scared Drue because she recalled it decades later.
Living a sharecropper life is hard on the whole family. The second eldest daughter, Slena Mae Peebles, told of some of the sharecropping homes where the family lived. For most of them, they would put newspaper on the walls for what little protection against the elements it would provide. One place they lived she said the front porch was high and she and the other children would play under there. The cracks in the walls would let the cold wind right through. And the cracks in the floor would give a view of the chickens pecking under the house. She recalled they did not have toys or dolls to play with; but, rather, would break off twigs at the forks of a branch. The fork would make the legs for their headless, armless, faceless dolls. I might add that she played the game of Jacks with me when I was little, and I would venture to say that she was the Jacks champeen of the world, so she must have had lots of practice with Preston and Ellen growing up. Sometimes in the spring the girls would pick passion flowers, pick off just the right number of pistils or stamen. Presto, they would have a ballerina doll. Although, I doubt they ever saw a ballerina at that point anyway.
One son, R.D. Peebles, imagined himself a preacher. That is him in his little overalls. He would get up on that stump and place those little hands on his gallouses and preach. He would preach hell fire and damnation. At least as best a little guy was able. On that stump, he held very long sermons, it would seem. His sermons often consisted of the all important biblical admonitions of ‘dog’ and ‘hairpin.’ Now don’t laugh those were pretty impressive words for a little preacher. R.D.’s oldest daughter, Mary Jane Cochran, asked did I know that her Daddy had filled in as preacher at their church. I had not known that.
At Christmas they were truly excited to get an apple or an orange and maybe sometimes a piece of candy. They didn’t have much, but neither did others they knew, except for the Wheelers. Miss Annie Wheeler had a real porcelain doll. Drue had evidently seen or heard of it. Drue would show the girls a Sears and Roebuck catalog and ask them which dress did they like best. Preston, Slena Mae, and Ellen would pick out one they liked and Drue would hand sew them one like it. They would later put the pages to that Sears & Roebuck catalog to good use with a little crumpling. The girls’ dresses were made of flour sacks, as was their underwear. One day, Drue informed Slena Mae that she didn’t have any more flour sacks to make her any drawers and Slena Mae cried at that thought.
Drue’s first school was the Wheeler Basin Church building situated across the highway from the Joe Wheeler home. Slena Mae talked of going to school at Midway. Her teacher was Mrs Glenice _____ . She also taught me when I went to Colbert County High School. Children were often put to work in the fields of necessity. This limited the schooling that the children received. Preston could pick 300 pounds of cotton a day. Slena Mae and Ellen were not far behind. They also hoed cotton for pennies a day. The cotton picking would yield a whole 75 cents…or was the cotton the whole family picked that amounted to 75 cents per day?
Volumes could be written about the memories of their stories and their life. The photo accompanying this posting was made about 1934. The family had just lost a child of about eighteen months in age, J. W., to whooping-cough, iirc. Slena Mae told of the little one’s teeth marks that were still in the wooden eating table after he died. He made the teeth marks during teething as they would sit at the table.
In 1940 Reynolds Metals Aluminum Company opened at Listerhill, Alabama. They hired and trained a lot of local men. Robert Duncan Peebles was one of those men. They had moved to Sheffield. They lived in Sheffield the rest of their lives. After a train crushed into the car as Robert and co-workers headed to Reynolds to work and a long hospital stay, Robert D. Peebles retired from Reynolds Metals Company. He received a gold watch for his years of service. He was a mason, a bass fiddle and fiddle player, and he was talented in making things with his hands. Robert Peebles is the one that even when he died, all his grandchildren seemed to think they were his favorite.
A high school student interviewed Drue Peebles in the 1980’s for a school project that required an oral history of someone who lived during the Great Depression. When asked what did she remember most about the Great Depression, Drue replied simply. She said, “Being hungry.”