Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

The Depression didn’t stop the flow of milk

We oldsters are frequently asked to tell about the Depression. Dad, Mom and we kids all had jobs in the O.D. Meyers Dairy.

There were about 20 cows to be milked, bottles, strainers and many vessels to be washed in hot lye water, rinsed and drained.

We sold Grade A milk directly to customers, delivering it to their front porches in time for breakfast. The Depression hit everybody; some customers couldn’t pay their bills, but many dairy farmers didn’t have to stand in soup lines to be fed.

Cows had to be fed and milked twice a day. Milk in glass bottles had to be iced down in warm weather. Delivery trucks had to have gas, oil and tires.

In winter some of the deliveries were made with a team of horses pulling the box sled Dad made; it was wide enough for Dad to stand between two rows of crates of bottled, capped milk.

Customers bought tickets once or twice a month and dropped them into their empty, washed glass bottles daily. The Depression didn’t affect that very much because a quart bottle of milk cost only 8 cents and 4 quarts cost a quarter.

Grade A milk was an essential item in almost all diets. Schoolchildren, teachers, lots of laboring people and office workers took lunches from home.

My boyfriend Chub and I sat in his old Pontiac truck to eat our lunches together; in winter we ate at Mr. and Mrs. Orton’s restaurant.

The Ortons subtracted our lunch bill from their unpaid milk bill. The Ortons were friendly older people, and they paid Dad a little cash when they had it.

Students in fraternities and sororities ran up big milk bills, graduated and left Columbia owing dairies money they could never collect. When holidays came, most of the students left for about two weeks and dairymen either gave the milk away of fed it to hogs.

Dad bought a few hogs to consume that extra milk while the students were out of town at Christmas and between semesters. When the students returned, he sold the hogs at a heavier weight - usually for a profit.

In May 1937, my dear Mother died suddenly and Dad was devastated - wanted to sell everything but had no plan for what to do next!

Chub and I borrowed the money to buy half interest in Dad’s retail dairy operation; he continued to own and manage the herd and sold the milk to the partnership.

We bought a new, white Dodge panel delivery truck and had the name painted on in big black letters: "Meyers and Gerard Dairy - Dial 3942."

Dad had sold milk to the Boone County Hospital since it opened in l924, and there was no interruption in that or in our deliveries to the individual customers.

Walter Frank "Chub" Gerard and I started dating in January 1931; during this seven-year platonic relationship we knew there would someday be a wedding, but we didn’t discuss it. Then, with the partnership established and economy improved, we began to firm up plans.

Chub would sell his 10-farm milk route and the old Pontiac truck. We’d employ a homemaker/bookkeeper, and I would continue to teach recreation and aquatic sports at Christian College.

Chub bought a new dark suit for $35 and withdrew $30 from the bank. We were married in front of the fireplace by our personal friend Dean Carl Agee.

We pooled our billfold money and "pocket change" for the trip and headed south in our jointly owned Plymouth car. We had a flat before Ashland, 15 miles from home, and had to buy a used inner tube!

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