Lowell has had many dairies over the years. Dairy operators delivered milk to customer’s home fresh every day or two. During this time of renewed home delivery of groceries this article looks back at Highland Hill and Downtown Dairies.
Highland Hill Dairy was located at 1115 East Main Street at Lowell’s eastern edge on top of the hill. Neil Cameron purchased the land around 1908 from N. B. Blaine who had lived there the previous 52 years. Cameron came to Lowell in 1898 from Ontario, Canada. He worked as a saw man at the Lowell Cutter Company for 16 years, beginning his dairy operation about 1910. In 1914, Cameron retired from the Cutter Factory to operate a retail dairy business full time.
Arie Leeman came to Lowell in 1929 and applied for a job at Highland Hill in response to a newspaper ad. He started work immediately. At that time, there were five dairies serving Lowell – Highland Hill, Melody Farms, Ryder’s, Fuss’, and Speerstra’s.
Neil Cameron died in 1934 and Arie bought the operation in 1945. Until the early 1950’s, the staff milked their own cows and did their own processing. Arie delivered milk to homes every other day. Calendars were printed with red and blue days. Some customers received their milk on red days and some on blue days. He had route books labeled West Side and East Side. He delivered to the West Side one day and East Side the next. Customers put their empty milk bottles on the porch and dropped order tickets into one of the empties so Arie would know what kind and how many bottles of milk to leave that day. (Each quart of milk had about 1/2 of a cup of cream on top because it was not homogenized at that time.) Arie often let neighborhood kids ride the milk route with him. Arie Leeman retired April 1, 1977 marking the end of home milk deliveries in this area.
Downtown Dairy was owned by the Winton Wilcox family. They kept good Guernsey cows while they were in the dairy business. Downtown Dairy was first located on Riverside Drive at the back of where Springrove Variety is. Downtown Dairy later moved its location to West Main Street to the building next to the Strand Theater. The milk cans were brought into the back along the driveway next to the Strand.
"I think Arie's brother "Peter" also delivered milk in Lowell! Use to love to catchup with Aire and beg for a chip of ice, used to cool the milk under a heavy blanket, no refrigeration on those trucks! The milk was put in a poorly insulated "Milk Box" on the front porch, in the sun! Wonder we didn't get sick and die! Time to go back the simpler days of yesteryear!
Gene & Krys Boyce
"I was one of those kids that Arie would let ride along for a block or two. On hot summer days he would use an ice pick to his block of ice to give us a little cube of cool relief!"
"I still have the milk box we had on our porch where I grew up on the corner of Grant and Lafayette. I remember Mom writing a note to Arie on milk days and tucking it under the lid of the milk box. Arie called my twin brother and I “Horrible Hank and Pitiful Pearl” as we begged to ride a few blocks in his his delivery truck."
"My dad worked for Arie, Highland Hill Dairy. Delivered downtown accounts...Tony's/Showboat Restaurant (where Keiser's is now), and Curlie's ( currently Backwater Cafe). Those are the two I remember from when I got to ride with him."
Kris Sparks Blough
"In the late 60's as an Runciman Elementary school student a group of us that lived on Washington Street were given several rides in the milk delivery truck. A very find memory from living in Lowell. This was so wonderful to see and read about. Thanks for jogging the memory."
"In the sixties the milk guy, Mr Lehman, would bring the milk. They used to be glass bottles with a tinfoil top.
We could either get chocolate or white. One was like $0.02 and the other was 3. Then later the prices went up chocolate always cost a penny or two more. Then later at the end when I left together they took elementary junior high they were cardboard boxes little curtains remember them days. We loved it that and all the Lunch Ladies I had a made loved it."
"Pete didn’t deliver milk, he ran the plant, processing (pasteurizing & homogenizing) and bottling the milk. There was a second route created when Lowell Creamery merged its operation in with HHD. It was delivered by Newt Grimwood, Phil Kropf and Paul Noffke. Most “Moms” were home so the milk didn’t stay in the milk box very long."