We have a tendency today to pride ourselves on the advances made with household conveniences. There is a gadget or tool to do almost everything. We can chop, peel, clean and disinfect like never before. Our grocery stores are filled with not only fresh, organic foods but also with ready made or instant everything. Along the way to our modern world though, we have also given up some conveniences – the delivery of some food and products right to our front door. Ice was delivered for the ‘ice box,’ the predecessor of the refrigerator, coal was delivered through a chute to basement coal bins for furnaces, bread and assorted pastries were left at the front door, and milk and dairy products dropped off on porches or in really ‘modern’ homes, placed in a milk chute. The process was simple for residents of the home – you left the empty, glass milk bottles on the porch along with a note detailing your order for the milkman to ‘fill.’ Payment was by personal cheque, not credit card, left, again, with the milk bottle empties.
My grandfather, John Gaull Hadden, and his brother, Alexander Gaull Hadden, were two such delivery men in the first half of the twentieth century. Alexander, or Uncle Alec as he was known to me, my father and his siblings, was a Brown’s Bread delivery man in Toronto. Uncle Alec is pictured above standing beside his horse-drawn delivery wagon. Many years ago, when Uncle Alec identified himself in the photo for me, he also informed me of the location of the photo, taken in 1928. Although there are only fields behind him and no buildings within sight, today that location is considered to be an older, very urban part of Toronto’s east end.
My grandfather, John, delivered milk for Silverwood’s Dairy with whom he was employed for over 35 years, beginning his dairy career on December 17, 1935. In 1947, he became a milk route inspector and, in 1953, a milk route foreman. As a child, my grandfather employed me as his ‘assistant’ – my job was to accompany him to the dairy on Sunday afternoons to balance his books, using a large. pull lever, adding machine. The pay was perfect from my perspective – a small carton of chocolate milk, fresh off the assembly line. Those were the days!
As the result of a car accident in August 1970, John was unable to return to his milk route and so he retired in February 1971.
I was fortunate enough to receive a summary of my grandfather’s employment record with Silverwood’s Dairy through a simple request to them many years ago for the information. With the more recent concerns and issues about privacy, I am not as certain I would be as successful with the same request today. But it costs nothing to ask and the rewards of obtaining this information are well worth the effort.