Archived Story

Milk caps so old they have three-digit phone numbers

Published 7:40pm Monday, November 15, 2010

Shirley Walsh, a friend and old school classmate of mine, was here on a visit recently and brought me some of those cardboard caps that fit on the top neck of our glass milk bottles (remember those?).

gillI asked where she got them.

She said in doing some work in her kitchen, the worker found them between the wall and the back of the sink.

These age-old caps were in pretty good shape.

I know they had to be old, as the phone number was just 308.

They were from the old Dowagiac Farmers Dairy Co., which was on E. Division Street, across from the telephone building.

Printed on the cap was pasteurized and filtered MILK.

So what did I do? I went right down in my (pack-rat) basement and brought up two of my old Dowagiac Farmers Dairy bottles.

One had orange printing on the front of the bottle. The other one has white printing.

I found these bottles years ago in a dump in a woods where I was mushrooming.

I suggested to my wife I was going to clean these two bottles up and fill one with milk from a cardboard milk carton, put one of the good-looking caps that Shirley had given me on the neck of the bottle and put it in the fridge to show to friends, but my better half quickly put the kibosh to another one of my great ideas.

If I remember, Carl Koehn was the manager of the dairy when I used to go there to get the best ice cream cone ever.

Also, I remember Marian Snell clerked there.

I’ve talked to a lot of Dowagiac folks who told me how much they remember Dowagiac Farrmers Dairy ice cream and the triple deckers they used to have.

Now here is a good one (a true story).

A lady told me a story that made me laugh.

One time they were taking a school census and she was asked how many children she had and their ages.

She told the census taker she had two boys the same age, but they were not twins.

Later on, her husband got a call from the school saying your wife must have made a mistake in one of your two boys’ ages, as she said they were both born in the same year.

He told the school no, one boy was born in January and the other was born in late December.

Then the husband laughed and said, boy, it sure was a mistake.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at

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