YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections
(Page 2 of 2)

The milkman cometh

That symbol of retro suburbia is making the rounds again in Southern California.

July 08, 2010|By Rene Lynch, Los Angeles Times

There are some key changes. Gone are the nostalgic milk bottles — they're too heavy, too dangerous and too costly. And today's milkman (and he's almost always a man) doesn't wear a uniform suit, squeaky black shoes and a spiffy cap — he's more than likely to wear shorts, running shoes and a ball cap.

Not that you're likely to catch a glimpse.

Pastor and his crew assemble around midnight on a Santa Ana loading dock, stock up their trucks and are soon on their way. The nocturnal delivery enables the milkman to beat traffic but also allows the milk to be delivered — and brought inside — before everyone heads off to work for the day.

Since deliveries happen so early in the mornings, when the air temperature is still cool here in Southern California, refrigeration is not always a necessity: Most deliveries are simply placed on the front porch right outside the entryway, or on a nearby chair, because early-bird customers plan to scoop them up and bring them inside shortly after delivery. Other customers — read: those who like to sleep in — leave out a cooler, or a traditional milk box that keeps their dairy treats cool.

As the owner of the delivery service, Pastor does not have a regular route but fills in when someone is sick or on vacation, or when a route is otherwise unstaffed. Drivers leave detailed log notes for one another, such as "Customer likes milk left on chair." He oversees 12 routes, which each include 80 to 150 stops a day, Monday through Saturday, and can involve 140 miles of road.

Here's how it works for Pastor's customers: They sign up for regular delivery — it can be as frequent as twice a week, or once every other week — online at They also get an order form of available goodies. If they want something special, they leave the order form out by the door. Customers pay by credit card or check, and there's no extra charge for delivery

On a recent weekday morning, Pastor pulled his refrigerated truck into a leafy cul de sac in Santa Ana — "the best part of being a milkman is that you can park on the wrong side of the street and no one cares," he joked — and dashed up to the front porch with two half-gallons of milk. Between the darkness — it was not quite 6 a.m. — and the lack of a porch light, Pastor had to squint to read the order form that had been left out: "Cottage cheese, butter and a chocolate Danish."

He headed back to the truck and did a little "shopping" in the back, then returned to the front porch, placing all the goods inside a red cooler left out for this purpose.

By the time most of his customers stumbled onto the front porch, still groggy, to find their milk and fresh eggs, Pastor would be long gone.

"If we're doing it right, no one ever sees the milkman," he said.

Los Angeles Times Articles