The Trucks We Grew Up With



August 07, 2012

Are you old enough to remember Divco milk trucks or Good Humor ice cream mobiles? Can you recall what kind of vehicle the mailman used to drive? Check out this nostalgic look back at some of the commercial vehicles once a part of everyday life in neighborhoods across America.

Forever Yum

Yum 1

Was there any sound more intoxicating to American kids than the melodic chimes of the ice cream truck making its daily, afternoon rounds? In addition to regular and soft-serve ice cream, the classic treats of the Mr. Whippy’s-era included Rocket Pops, the Screwball, snow cones, and the Mickey Mouse Bar (to name a few). These colorful trucks were once a common summer afternoon sight on almost every residential street. The website darkroastedblend.com has complied a wonderful photo collection of these old-time vehicles that goes all the way back to the Wall’s ice cream bicycles that first began appearing in London in the 1920s, before the idea of “ice cream parlors on wheels” migrated here.

Going Postal

Yum 2

The first mail-delivery vehicles in the United States were modified commercial vehicles. From June 1929 to March 1932, for example, the Ford Motor Company sold Model A and Model AA chassis to the USPS, whose regional garages would then outfit them with mail-van bodies (in oak or white ash) painted in the USPS colors. This practice continued until 1954 when the first door-to-door mail truck was manufactured by the Twin Coach Company of Kent, Ohio. The United States Postal Service has put together a great photo gallery (click here to view) of postal vehicles used throughout the decades—everything from 1914 Autocar delivery trucks to the more recognizable sit-stand trucks (like the 6-cylinder, ½ ton, 1963 Studebaker shown above) of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Daily At Your Door

Yum 3

Before World War II, almost everything from ice to bread was delivered to your door. Ice trucks went the way of the horse and buggy when refrigerators became part of every American home. But bread vans still made daily neighborhood appearances during the ‘50s and ‘60s. Trucks with the Helms Bakery logo were one of the most iconic and memorable to anyone who grew up in Southern California during that era. Their unique, mustard yellow colored trucks and distinct "toot-toot" whistles would signal that the Helmsman had arrived in your neighborhood and would bring enough children running to make the Good Humor man jealous. Other bread companies using residential delivery trucks included Swanson Bakery in Glenwood Minnesota; Manor Bread Co. in Kansas City; and Firch Baking Company of Erie, Pennsylvania.

Are you a Boomer who remembers the “Charles Chips” man? How about when diapers and milk were still delivered to your door? Take a moment to comment below or head on over to the HVA’s Facebook page and share your favorite “delivery truck” memories and see what other members are saying.

 

Comments

  1. Ron L'Herault Massachusetts

    I still get milk and many other great items delivered to my door thanks to Munroe Dairy out of E. Providence, RI.

  2. TimHelmerich Spring,TX

    I

  3. Everett Philla Acushnet, Ma

    I am old enough, and even worked on Divco's for three local dairies as a teen and into my twenties. My dad also serviced Railway Express trucks for a few years just before UPS. I was also contracted to do minor repair by the usps on American Generals. The Divco stand up drivers were really cool to drive. As far as ice cream trucks, the PONY BOY would come ringing his bell on his Chevy truck with dry ice in the freezer section every afternoon about 3 PM. We made sure we were home at that time. One of our neighbor got Hood milk from a truck that was still ice cooled and we would sneak in and "steal" ice on dog days of summer. Ah, memories.

  4. TOM FREDERICK, MD

    How about Sheffield Milk trucks, ESSO trucks and my favorite the Dugan Bakery truck.

  5. John Costello Buffalo, NY

    I remember growing up in "the sticks" (as my mother disparagingly referred to the suburbs, albeit the outer fringes of said burbs). We used to run down the street as soon as we saw the milk truck coming in the distance, when we'd get there the milkman would stop, let us climb in & chip off a nice chunk of ice for each of us to consume as we then rode with him to the end of the street, sitting on the truck floor with our feet dangling out of the open doorway, happily licking, dripping & grinning... doesn't get any better on a hot summer day!

  6. John Costello Buffalo, NY

    I remember growing up in "the sticks" (as my mother disparagingly referred to the suburbs, albeit the outer fringes of said burbs). We used to run down the street as soon as we saw the milk truck coming in the distance, when we'd get there the milkman would stop, let us climb in & chip off a nice chunk of ice for each of us to consume as we then rode with him to the end of the street, sitting on the truck floor with our feet dangling out of the open doorway, happily licking, dripping & grinning... doesn't get any better on a hot summer day!

  7. John Costello Buffalo, NY

    I remember growing up in "the sticks" (as my mother disparagingly referred to the suburbs, albeit the outer fringes of said burbs). We used to run down the street as soon as we saw the milk truck coming in the distance, when we'd get there the milkman would stop, let us climb in & chip off a nice chunk of ice for each of us to consume as we then rode with him to the end of the street, sitting on the truck floor with our feet dangling out of the open doorway, happily licking, dripping & grinning... doesn't get any better on a hot summer day!

  8. John Costello Buffalo, NY

    I remember growing up in "the sticks" (as my mother disparagingly referred to the suburbs, albeit the outer fringes of said burbs). We used to run down the street as soon as we saw the milk truck coming in the distance, when we'd get there the milkman would stop, let us climb in & chip off a nice chunk of ice for each of us to consume as we then rode with him to the end of the street, sitting on the truck floor with our feet dangling out of the open doorway, happily licking, dripping & grinning... doesn't get any better on a hot summer day!

  9. John C Buffalo, NY

    I remember growing up in "the sticks" (as my mother disparagingly referred to the suburbs, albeit the outer fringes of said burbs). We used to run down the street as soon as we saw the milk truck coming in the distance, when we'd get there the milkman would stop, let us climb in & chip off a nice chunk of ice for each of us to consume as we then rode with him to the end of the street, sitting on the truck floor with our feet dangling out of the open doorway, happily licking, dripping & grinning... doesn't get any better on a hot summer day!

  10. Dave Raleigh NC

    I remember the Charles Chips trucks. And the ice cream trucks. But hey, all is not lost, the ice cream truck still drives around the neighborhood today playing it's tunes, some of the tunes are just a little newer.

  11. Ted Main Naperville, IL

    I have had some unique experience with the vehilces mentioned. I grew up in Northern WI and MN and recall the REA trucks driven by our neighbors. When I worked at a Texaco Station in Duluth in the 60's we serviced three wheel cushman delivery vehicles fo r the post office and they were a problem starting when it was -40 below. The Mr. Softee trucks were Civil Defense Registered because of their refrigeration equipment. When I worked for an insurance company in Detroit one of my customers was Good Humor and I would make an annual safety survey of the faciltiy and their fleet. Notice in the pictures that the later vehicles had tapered sheeting over the bumpers so kids could not hitch rides. I also recall when they shut down the neighborhood sales by company owned vehicles. The only thing that is constant is CHANGE. Thanks for the memories.

  12. Jack Milford, Ohio

    I remember Mr Softee, who sold soft serve ice cream from a bigger vehicle, Ohio Novelties, which sold popcicles and candy and there is Schwann's, who claims to have a supermarket in the truck and sell frozen entrees, ice cream, and snacks of all sorts. I see them occasionally still. Growing up in the country, we had a bread man and an egg man and of course, the milk man in addition to the others.

  13. James Greene Richmond, Va

    I remember the Charles Chips trucks. They delivered chips, pretzels, etc. in big tins. I loved potato chips and Charles Chips were my favorite. Now I have found out that the Fresh Market sells Charles Chips! You can get regular or barbeque. I prefer the regular. They also sell nostalgic candy!! For baby boomers it's a no brainer, potato chips and candy from our childhood! Plus the rest of the good stuff in the store. Unfortunately the chips don't come in the tin, only bags. They must be popular because the regular sell out frequently.

  14. Bill Ohio

    I grew up in Ohio and in 1953 moved to a new house in the 'Old Brooklyn' neighborhood of Cleveland. There was Producers Milk which still delivered by horse drawn milk truck. Also remember the 'City Ice' truck delivering ice to some homes, we would run to the back of the truck and grab chips of ice before the iceman came back to his truck. Does anyone still remember the 'paper&rags' man, usually in an old horse drawn wagon? Also the knife sharpening vendor with his push cart?

  15. Bill Ohio

    I grew up in Ohio and in 1953 moved to a new house in the 'Old Brooklyn' neighborhood of Cleveland. There was Producers Milk which still delivered by horse drawn milk truck. Also remember the 'City Ice' truck delivering ice to some homes, we would run to the back of the truck and grab chips of ice before the iceman came back to his truck. Does anyone still remember the 'paper&rags' man, usually in an old horse drawn wagon? Also the knife sharpening vendor with his push cart?

  16. Bill Ohio

    I grew up in Ohio and in 1953 moved to a new house in the 'Old Brooklyn' neighborhood of Cleveland. There was Producers Milk which still delivered by horse drawn milk truck. Also remember the 'City Ice' truck delivering ice to some homes, we would run to the back of the truck and grab chips of ice before the iceman came back to his truck. Does anyone still remember the 'paper&rags' man, usually in an old horse drawn wagon? Also the knife sharpening vendor with his push cart?

  17. Bob Lexington Mac

    I was 13 years old and lived in providence RI &sold ice cream from a pony boy express pony &wagon