Got Milk?

Grandpop and Truck, 1937

This great photograph shows my grandfather, James Pointkouski, with his milk truck. According to the back of the photo, the date is July 18, 1937 and it was taken at “Silver Lake Inn.”

My grandfather was a truck driver, but the word he used to describe his occupation in several documents was “chauffeur”. He first calls himself that in the 1930 Census. Only 20 years old, he’s already making a living as a chauffeur, which is further identified by “ice cream factory”. Yes, Grandpop drove an ice cream truck! But not the kind that visits neighborhoods prowling for hungry children and driving everyone insane with repeated nursery rhymes blaring from the loudspeaker. No, he delivered ice cream to the places that sold it in those days – drugstores and “soda fountains”! His future brother-in-law, Joseph Bergmeister, also worked as an ice cream “chauffeur”, while Joe’s brother Max worked at an ice business. Max would later open up a candy shop / soda fountain where my Grandpop would deliver the ice cream.

Driver’s LicenseAs an ice cream truck driver, cars and trucks were important to my grandfather since they helped him earn a living. When my grandmother passed away, I found a stack of my grandfather’s driver’s licenses ranging from 1935 to 1957 (or Operator’s License as it was called then, no photos required) as well as a few Vehicle Registration cards.

In the above photo, he is driving for Aristocrat Dairy in Philadelphia. But is that a famous Divco milk truck? As I researched the clues in this photo, I learned that the Divco was built by Detroit Industrial Vehicle Company from 1926 all the way up to 1986. I have vague memories of what it was like to have milk delivered directly to the house…chances are that the milkman drove a Divco. Since these trucks were specially designed and refrigerated, I believe that is what my grandfather drove. While the truck above looks similar to today’s trucks, some Divco models were actually designed so that the driver drove it while standing up! I can’t just imagine my grandfather saying that he decided to drive a truck so he could sit down!

Divco trucks also became famous for their sloping hoods. The truck above does not have it, but my research seems to indicate that Divco did not change the truck’s design until the year this photo was taken. It looks a lot like the Divco milk trucks from Scott-Powell Aristocrat Dairies pictured at this site. But based on this Divco site, it could also be a Dodge milk truck.

Regardless of what kind of milk truck it is, I’m proud that my grandfather worked in this field. It connects my personal history with a bit of Americana, and those “good ol’ days” of fresh dairy products delivered right to your door and ice cream floats at the local soda fountain. Both of those slices of the past are just a bit before my time, but I’m able to feel connected to that earlier era because of Grandpop’s role as the guy who made it possible for folks to have those milkshakes at the corner store!

[This post was written for the 45th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Cars as stars! What car played a starring roll in your family history and what roll did it play?. An additional post on this topic is here.]

12 thoughts on “Got Milk?

  1. Donna, The 45th COG is super! And your photograph of the truck above brings back a lot of memories for me — when the trucks of this sort finally started making deliveries of ice cream and milk products to my father’s country store in the hills of Mississippi. I enjoyed your article so much [and your other piece with its mention of a Celica Pope-mobile is a hoot!]

  2. I have a wonderful photo of my grandfather standing next to his milk wagon and horses taken in St. Louis, date not known. At the time he was working for the Jersey Farm Dairy and later worked for the Sealtest Dairy. I’d love to find a Jersey Farm Dairy bottle.

    I enjoyed your article and the memories it brought back of my grandfather.


  3. Lisa, thanks a bunch! I’m glad someone took it, too, and that I was able to get a copy so many years later.

    Terry, I somehow knew that even if no one else remembered milk deliveries, you sure would! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And as for my friend sticking out of our own Pope-mobile, he’s now a priest. He needs a few promotions before he can try out the real one, but he’s got the wave and blessing down great from all that practice!

    Judy, I am glad you enjoyed it as well. I’ll bet you can find one of those bottles…they sell everything you can think of on E-bay! Wagon and horses, eh? Wow!

  4. A friend of mine would like to have a copy of the horse and wagon that you show in “Got Milk?”

    His father drove a wagon for Aristocrat Dairy and Charles used to go along with his father some times. Also on occasion Charles was allowed to ride on the back of the horse on part of the route.

    If you can provide a copy of the picture, Charles will be glad to reimburse you for making the copy.

    Thank you.


  5. I found your website while doing a search for the Jersey Farm Dairy in St. Louis, MO. My grandfather worked there for several years and later deserted his family – my grandmother, my father, and his two brothers and a sister. He seems to have just disappeared; we can find absolute no record of him after his disappearance. I was hoping to find some information on the St. Louis Jersey Farm Dairy to see if it might contain a lead on him. Do you have any information on the Dairy??? Thanks.

  6. This truck appears to be a Ford. The “Ford” oval can be made out just to the top right of the headlight.

    Great story about a lost time!

  7. Pingback: horse drawn ice truck photo philadelphia | Images

  8. Judy and Dave, If you are still out there, please respond. My inlaws were involved with Jersey Farm in St. Louis.

  9. Jan: Judy and I are still here, though my own geneaology work has slowed considerably. But we are still greatly interested in any information you might have on the Klostermann family or the Jersey Farm Dairy. Please feel free to contact me. And have a Happy New Year. (I’ll keep Judy informed.)

  10. Judy and Jim, I would be very interested in any information you would have on the Jersey Farm Dairy Company. My husbands family were part owners of this company. Frank R. Wolken

    Karen Waeltermann

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