you've ever played the I-remember-when game, you know how easy it is to
get caught up in the scents and sounds and flavor of the "old
days." Certainly that was the case when my sister Ellen and I
started looking for memorabilia relating to our father's truck line and
how it fit into the history of El Monte
Valley. Keep in mind the fact that
I was a late-comer to the family so lots of my information is from old
pictures and hearsay.
Head, with some start-up help from John Wilkinson, began hauling milk
out of El Monte
along about 1920. Previously,
each dairyman had shipped his milk via the train in
Lakeside. This had to be done twice
daily, and that is the job that Dad took on.
Later he began taking the milk directly to the creameries in San Diego
(Arden Farms, Qualitee
Dairy, PM Dairy and Hages come to mind).
of his stops situated along El Monte Road
(Vanoni's, Scholder's, Denlinger's, Peet's, Wilkinson's, Foster's,
Melville's, and Furrier's) but there were a few dairies located across
the river. To save time in transporting the milk, Dad would run the El
Monte Road route while my oldest brother, Norman, would take a smaller
truck and pick up milk from the cross-river diairies. At a meeting spot
's load was transferred to Dad's truck, and
then went on to Grossmont
for his regular day schedule.
time went on, some dairies changed hand's, some failed during the
depression years, and some just closed due to old age.
was always a great treat when I was little to get to ride along with
Dad, watch him work and listen to the neighborly chatter at each stop.
dairy barn had a deck built to a level even with the bed of the truck.
By removing a sideboard, the ten gallon cans were wrestled on board and
maneuvered into position in the load. "Wrestle" is an apt term
when you consider the weight of ten gallons of milk is 80 pounds.
The load was kept covered by bulky tarps to discourage excessive
warming while on the way to the creameries.
Once there, the cans were again wrestled onto the conveyor belts,
dumped, washed, and set out on the dock for reloading onto the truck.
morning run saw him leaving the house each morning at 6am and returning
by 11:30am or 12:00 noon. The evening run was shorter, 6:00pm to
10:00pm. He kept to his schedule faithfully, never took a vacation,
although he did consent to a Sunday off now and again when one of my
brothers, Laurie, Norman, George or Ernie would take the route.
to the twice daily runs was the responsibility of keeping his trucks in
good running condition. Both
he and Norman were good mechanics, and through their expertise and
diligence his 1926 and 1928 trucks continued to travel the road until he
retired in 1952. By then the
milk producers were turning to refrigerated trucks and tankers.
a side note, during the war years the call was put out for people to
turn in tires to help the war effort.
Tires were a rare commodity for the civilian population, and most
people found it next to impossible to acquire new ones. But Dad put all
but one truck on blocks, and hoped that one would stay mechanically
sound for the duration.
during the war with its shortages, Dad had frequent riders--friends and
neighbors needing to get to
or points beyond but not enough gas coupons to use for their own
Allene Head Savage