Once there was Milk Delivery

Dear Peg and Family,
Just after the War and returning home, I was very unsettled. I could get a job with the Railways in their Dunedin Workshops. The work there was really dirty, and it didn’t appeal. No adequate washing facilities were provided. As well, it was never going to lead to anything. As well, you would always be a Second Division employee, The First Class division status, was reserved for their clerical staff. In fact the Government had been treating the workshops as a device to sop up any unemployed. What I really wanted, was to work for myself, should this opportunity arise. I had mentioned in an earlier letter that my parents were busy working in their own business, they had formed a close relationship with the Stewart Brothers, their milk suppliers. They were at this time actually selling up, preparing to start a transport warehousing business in Dunedin. Further, my brother and I were being offered a chance to buy their milk company, which we were delighted to do.
And what did we know about selling milk? Absolutely Nothing, It shouldn’t be all that hard, should it? But in retrospect it would seem we had a lot to learn. Back then there was no designated ‘Runs’ or Zones, it was strictly, dog eat dog. We paid the going rate for goodwill £10 a gallon. Our opposition immediately paid us a visit and said, ‘If we respected their boundaries, they would respect ours’. That agreement lasted exactly one day, and in that first week we lost 10 gallons of our run to them which equated to £100 goodwill. Clearly we had to do something, and do it quick. The milk thieves were laughing at these new bunnies who had arrived on the scene. But the agreement regarding boundaries wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.
At this time help arrived in a strange way. One day I was stopped driving up the road and a ‘suit’ got out of his car, he introduced himself. My name is ‘Bough’. And I’m your milk inspector. Can I have samples of what you are carrying? As we called at all the local Town Milk Suppliers farms, with the task of transporting the milk to the City. We could use any of the milk we picked up, and sell it, but with the proviso that we had to take a full churn. At the outset it was difficult, as we never knew what supply we were going to use.
I inquired from the inspector the cost of these tests. ‘Free’! Unbelievable, Can I have a copy of your tests, and what exactly do you test for?
1 A Reductase Test, The speed any sample turns sour. (Very handy when milk only lasted a day)
2 Butter fat and solids. (Nobody wanted skim milk back then)
3 A Bacteria count
Now armed with this information I was ready to do battle. I couldn’t believe my good luck. No one back then had refrigeration. So by putting our best milk on the boundaries and with the assistance of the Health Dept. we were now ready to do battle. All we had to do was wait for a spell of warm weather. It came, and immediately we recovered our missing ‘good will’, and soon had the opposition banging on our door again. Reminding me of our supposed agreement. I said as far as I was concerned this agreement only worked one way. Their way, and I wanted to have nothing to do with it, or them.
At this time all milk was sold ‘loose’. We carried a couple of ‘carriers’ about two and a half gallons each, inside was a pint dipper. Each customer put out a jug or billy. Most receptacles seemed to be recycled Golden Syrup billies. Not a good choice, as these had a concealed fold where the lid fitted, this made them difficult to wash. Frankly they stunk of yesterdays milk. We also had to put up with the odd kid who quenched their thirst with a couple of gulps before the milk could be collected.
Many put out money, but this was a big temptation to the young ferals as a source of pocket money. So I contacted Impact Manufacturing Lower Hutt and ordered a couple of chests of tokens. We were the first to introduce this system. That fixed the theft problem, but upset the bad payers. Especially some of local constabulary who exploited their position, and were difficult to get money from, We also observed the same people  used ‘stand over’ tactics on the local Hotels who placed bottles of booze outside the door, as the price of trading after hours.
There was another form of policing that effected us, and this was from the Milk Board. Local Councils elected members, and we drew the short straw in this. Harry Williamson was our elected member. His diligence and application to this job was unbelievable, he took extraordinary steps to try and catch us out in some misdemeanour or other, he would even stoop to the most extreme tactics. Such as hiding, and crawling through the long grass at 5-00am on the road verges to report us to the transport Authority for driving on the wrong side of the road. Back then we only had a couple of traffic cops to cover the whole of the City, I was sure too they had more important duties to attend to, than chasing up a Milk Truck that was unloading bulk milk before their breakfast. I must say too, Harry was putting him self in harms way by doing what he considered his duty. It was tempting to resist the urge, not to drive through the long grass.
Then the glass bottle arrived on the scene. It meant we had to buy new vehicles as our delivery weight now doubled overnight. They offered the best system, but plastics had arrived, and the bottle was being pushed aside by the ‘throw away’ brigade.
The business made us a good living, but the constant seven day working week was too onerous. So after eight years we sold up, and looked for new careers.
Love from Christchurch, Wally.

Just after the War and returning home, I was very unsettled. I could get a job with the Railways in their Dunedin Workshops. The work there was really dirty, and it didn’t appeal. No adequate washing facilities were provided. As well, it was never going to lead to anything. As well, you would always be a Second Division employee, The First Class division status, was reserved for their clerical staff. In fact the Government had been treating the workshops as a device to sop up any unemployed. What I really wanted, was to work for myself, should this opportunity arise. I had mentioned in an earlier letter that my parents were busy working in their own business, they had formed a close relationship with the Stewart Brothers, their milk suppliers. They were at this time actually selling up, preparing to start a transport warehousing business in Dunedin. Further, my brother and I were being offered a chance to buy their milk company, which we were delighted to do.

And what did we know about selling milk? Absolutely Nothing, It shouldn’t be all that hard, should it? But in retrospect it would seem we had a lot to learn. Back then there was no designated ‘Runs’ or Zones, it was strictly, dog eat dog. We paid the going rate for goodwill £10 a gallon. Our opposition immediately paid us a visit and said, ‘If we respected their boundaries, they would respect ours’. That agreement lasted exactly one day, and in that first week we lost 10 gallons of our run to them which equated to £100 goodwill. Clearly we had to do something, and do it quick. The milk thieves were laughing at these new bunnies who had arrived on the scene. But the agreement regarding boundaries wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

At this time help arrived in a strange way. One day I was stopped driving up the road and a ‘suit’ got out of his car, he introduced himself. My name is ‘Bough’. And I’m your milk inspector. Can I have samples of what you are carrying? As we called at all the local Town Milk Suppliers farms, with the task of transporting the milk to the City. We could use any of the milk we picked up, and sell it, but with the proviso that we had to take a full churn. At the outset it was difficult, as we never knew what supply we were going to use.

I inquired from the inspector the cost of these tests. ‘Free’! Unbelievable, Can I have a copy of your tests, and what exactly do you test for?

1 A Reductase Test, The speed any sample turns sour. (Very handy when milk only lasted a day)

2 Butter fat and solids. (Nobody wanted skim milk back then)

3 A Bacteria count

Now armed with this information I was ready to do battle. I couldn’t believe my good luck. No one back then had refrigeration. So by putting our best milk on the boundaries and with the assistance of the Health Dept. we were now ready to do battle. All we had to do was wait for a spell of warm weather. It came, and immediately we recovered our missing ‘good will’, and soon had the opposition banging on our door again. Reminding me of our supposed agreement. I said as far as I was concerned this agreement only worked one way. Their way, and I wanted to have nothing to do with it, or them.

At this time all milk was sold ‘loose’. We carried a couple of ‘carriers’ about two and a half gallons each, inside was a pint dipper. Each customer put out a jug or billy. Most receptacles seemed to be recycled Golden Syrup billies. Not a good choice, as these had a concealed fold where the lid fitted, this made them difficult to wash. Frankly they stunk of yesterdays milk. We also had to put up with the odd kid who quenched their thirst with a couple of gulps before the milk could be collected.

Many put out money, but this was a big temptation to the young ferals as a source of pocket money. So I contacted Impact Manufacturing Lower Hutt and ordered a couple of chests of tokens. We were the first to introduce this system. That fixed the theft problem, but upset the bad payers. Especially some of local constabulary who exploited their position, and were difficult to get money from, We also observed the same people  used ‘stand over’ tactics on the local Hotels who placed bottles of booze outside the door, as the price of trading after hours.

There was another form of policing that effected us, and this was from the Milk Board. Local Councils elected members, and we drew the short straw in this. Harry Williamson was our elected member. His diligence and application to this job was unbelievable, he took extraordinary steps to try and catch us out in some misdemeanour or other, he would even stoop to the most extreme tactics. Such as hiding, and crawling through the long grass at 5-00am on the road verges to report us to the transport Authority for driving on the wrong side of the road. Back then we only had a couple of traffic cops to cover the whole of the City, I was sure too they had more important duties to attend to, than chasing up a Milk Truck that was unloading bulk milk before their breakfast. I must say too, Harry was putting him self in harms way by doing what he considered his duty. It was tempting to resist the urge, not to drive through the long grass.

Then the glass bottle arrived on the scene. It meant we had to buy new vehicles as our delivery weight now doubled overnight. They offered the best system, but plastics had arrived, and the bottle was being pushed aside by the ‘throw away’ brigade.

The business made us a good living, but the constant seven day working week was too onerous. So after eight years we sold up, and looked for new careers.

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