More About The Milkman In Brooklyn History

Wire rack for milk bottles in Old Brooklyn photosThe milkman carried his orders in a wire rack that held 6 or 8 bottles of milk (see photo at right). Each customer had a standing order, such as two bottles of milk three times a week.

Each house had a milkbox (see photo below left) that the milkman put there for his orders. When he arrived he expected that the customer would have cleaned the old, empty bottles and placed them in the milkbox. He would remove the empties and fill the milkbox with the new bottles. If the customer had a change in their order there would be a note, rolled up and placed in the neck of the bottles, and the milkman would have to change the order accordingly.

Old Brooklyn milk boxSome homes were built with a cabinet installed into the exterior wall under the kitchen window. The cabinet had two doors, one that opened from the outside and one from the inside. The milkman would open the cabinet from the outside, take the empty (and washed) glass bottles, see if there was a note about changes in the order, and then place todays order (milk, butter and eggs) into the cabinet. During most of the year the temperature was cool enough so that the cabinet actually acted like a refrigerator. Later that day the customer would open the inside door of the cabinet and have her day’s order, fresh and cool.