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Memories Of The Sioux Falls Milkman

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Sioux Falls Through The Generations

Bob Munce was our family’s “Milkman”. I’ll NEVER forget his name. Growing up in Sioux Falls in the mid-1960s in the Lincoln High School neighborhood, almost every family had a Milkman.

Today’s Milkman job description would be “Home Dairy Delivery Specialist”.

You had 2 choices in those days, Lakeside Dairy or Terrace Park Dairy. Our family was on Team Lakeside.

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Bob would wheel into our driveway in his white Lakeside home delivery truck to make dairy drop-offs twice a week. I think on Tuesdays and Fridays.

He was SUCH a nice man! I remember his VOICE, loud and raspy, but friendly. He’d ask me, “What ya up to today, Scotty? You and your dad gonna go catch some bullheads this weekend?”

He knew EVERYONE on his route, ALL our names, and if we were a Low Fat or Skim milk family. I was just a kid, maybe 7 years old. Bob was somewhere between 46 and 59. I didn’t care. I considered him one of my first and BEST friends.

Bob the “Milkman” Memories

In those days, there were no paper milk cartons. We got our milk in those heavy, thick glass returnable bottles with paper caps. When a bottle was empty, we’d rinse it and return it to the Milk Box on our front doorstep, ready for Bob to pick up the next delivery day.

One Tuesday, after school, I was carrying 2 half-gallon milk bottles into our house, through the garage. One bottle slipped out of my hand and smashed to smithereens on the concrete floor! It scared me so much, I dropped the OTHER bottle too! Glass shards, milk, and tears EVERYWHERE. I guess that’s where the old saying came from, “no use crying over spilled milk”.

After Mom and I cleaned up the mess, she called Lakeside to report the tragedy. Bob was still at work. He lived only a few blocks from us.

Oh yeah, I knew where Bob lived!

He was HAPPY to swing by and drop off two replacement bottles of milk at our house. He told me, “Scotty, it’s alright. It’s happened to the best of us.” What a stand-up guy.

I also recall the day I learned about DENTURES. Bob came wheeling into the driveway, jumped out of his truck, opened his mouth to speak, and I couldn’t understand a WORD he said. His mouth, it was ALL caved-in! What HAPPENED to BOB? Poor guy had all his teeth pulled the day before, preparing him for his first set of dentures.

Milk List & Milk Box

The Milk List was our shopping list. Pads of them were provided to us by the dairy. The night before Bob’s delivery day, we’d fill out our Milk List and drop it in the Milk Box, indicating how many of each item we needed Bob to leave for us. I was tempted to order something MORE fun than milk, like Orange Drink! But Bob always gave me a FREE Orange Drink for my birthday, and I was content with that.

Each dairy provided home delivery customers with a Milk Box with the dairy’s logo on it, a 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot sheet metal box with razor-sharp edges. Ouch!

Milk Boxes were only somewhat insulated to keep dairy products from freezing in winter or boiling in summer but only for a couple of hours. If you forgot “GET THE MILK IN” on a hot summer day, you’d end up with a sour, curdled soup!

Dairy Consolidation

Like most big businesses, eventually, consolidation changes the brand names we grew up with. Lakeside Dairy merged with Terrace Park, which was absorbed by Land O’ Lakes, which became Dean Foods, which is now Prairie Farms Dairy.

One thing HASN’T changed in the Sioux Falls dairy landscape. There’s a larger-than-life Holstein cow statue named DAISY still standing in front of the dairy manufacturing plant near the intersection of Russell and West in Sioux Falls. It’s the SAME Daisy the cow that greeted Bob the Milkman every day as he came to work at Lakeside Dairy in the 1960s…


Photo Credits
Photos of Daisy and the old black and white photos of horse-drawn Lakeside Dairy wagons are courtesy of John Cooper, General Manager of Prairie Farms Dairy.
Photo of Terrace Park Dairy Milk List courtesy of Russ Fjellanger.
Photo of milk truck was provided by Levi C. It comes from Adobe Stock Photos, which he has permission to use for Townsquare marketing materials.

Guest post by Scott Smith, Townsquare media

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