Delivering milk

For many young New Zealanders a ‘milk run’ or a ‘paper run’ was an important supplement to their pocket money.

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Mike Vickers

Posted: 01 Dec 2020

When I was a 15 year old kid, I had a milk run in Whitby, a Porirua suburb with some "steep, dizzy streets - thanks Sam Hunt) and footpaths often having a smooth asphalt surface.
My absolute favourite street was the Anchorage, a nike logo tick shaped street from top to bottom, the scene of many a hair raising and hell racket raising an after school moment.
The ever cool, ever chill run owner Ron McLaughlin would drive us to slowly to the top, van labouring under its 1000's of milk bottles, blasting its custom "milkman here" horn on repeat, to pull up in the cul-de-sac up top near Cam Feasts house that once I went inside only to be blown-away, astounded to realise he had a rope-swing inside his kitchen.
The boys and I would jump off the sides of the truck where we'd been hitching a ride (I'd often dangle my legs over the side leaning way-out over looking down mesmerised by the road whipping by below).
I'd lift and throw the heavily welded chunky steel trolley to the ground by its handle, bouncing it to a stop by its two chunky air-filled tyres.
Then i'd reach into the truck and grab crate after crate of heavy plastic, glass bottle filled crates.
Each held 20 x 700ml glass bottles, mostly of milk, some also of orange or grapefruit flavoured juice, and some chocolate flavoured milk. Load up 3, two on bottom, one above, slotting it into the plastic guides expected to marry them together. Then off I'd go. Ron's trolleys had two wheels, flat milk tray, and two long diagonal bars joined by horizontal bar between them at the top, the hand bar by which it was controlled. At the bottom were welded thick steel brake plates. The idea was to run freely then when wanting to stop, a milk boy would lower the carry handle, depressing the steel brake plates which would slide against the surface of the road or footpath, literally grinding the trolley to a halt.
The beauty and joy of the Anchorage was the thrill of the real danger and excitement it posed.
The section seemingly feared by many milk-boys (it could never be admitted) was beastly steep and presented me, often, my most beloved daily moments of adventure barely contained and wildly circling adrenalin.
From standing start finished a letterbox with fresh full bottles inside, I'd heave my full weight into the trolley, pushing off my legs muscles a straining, aiming to reach sprinting speed within mere metres of takeoff. At a certain point in this endeavour, the weight of the bottle heavy trolley would meet the gravity of the steep street, and within that instant the trolley would roar into a life of its own, acquiring a burst of sudden speed and bouncing momentum that required a full body effort to control.
Of course I wasn't meant to do that. I was meant too slowly, carefully often use the brake pads to ease the trolley slowly down the street letterbox to letterbox. brake, brake, brake.
It was infinitely more fun however to roar as fast as ones legs could carry me after the trolley, holding onto the handlebar for dear life, half praying for no loose stones or bumps to upset the cart. At sprinting speed, on the cusp of completely losing control, I'd smoothly slam the brakes hard down to meet the asphalt, Huge showers of sparks, metres long, would fly off the brake steels, shrieking against the road surface as I simultaneously bought my full body weight to bear down onto the handlebar, my feet clear off the ground in the air as I bought the runaway trolley under control, aiming to slide to a perfect stop outside the next chosen letterbox, at which point I would deliver the milk.
If one got this wrong, as I did on one or two occasions before I learnt to respect limits, then the entire trolley bounced out of control, slammed into the road, turning into a high speed shatter of 50 odd glass bottles. If one was really unlucky you got your shins painfully smashed against white hot sharpened brake steels, then hurled uncontrollably over the handlebars to slide to a stop over a spreading sea of rolling, smashing glass. If this wasn't the best job ever invented for a wild kiwi boy I don't know what was!

SUZY

Posted: 19 Mar 2017

i REMEMBER AS A KID IN THE 70S, THE SOUND OF THE MILKMAN COMING AROUND WITH HIS TROLLEY, LYING IN BED AT 3AM AND HEARING THE CLANGING OF THE MILK BOTTLES ON THE METAL CRATES, BROUGHT ME GREAT COMFORT! just knowing i wasn't alone! SUZY :) weird i know lol!