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.
As 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.]