My Milkman Memory

Submitted by krinehart on June 2, 2012 - 4:14pm

Unidentified Petauma Cooperative Creamery Driver 1955. SCL Photo No. 9766

National Dairy Month brings to mind my favorite (and only) milkman, Stan, who delivered Clover dairy products to my Fairfax, California neighborhood when I was a kid - only 5 or 6 years old back in the 1960s. All the kids would race out to meet Stan and his big white and green truck. Afternoon was when ice cream was delivered. Sometimes he'd have Clover coloring books or other fun stuff to hand out. That's about all the memory I have, but it has stuck with me all these years. The fact that I knew and remember our milkman's name amazes me and is a testament to the impact these men in white had on their customers.

It was while sitting in on an interview between Petaluma Argus Courier columnist, Harlan Osborne, and Bob Isaac - Petaluma's last milkman - in 2010 that I discovered that Stan was still around and had a last name - Wells. Both Bob and Stan drove for the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery. Bob suggested I contact Herm Benedetti at Clover Stornetta who he suspected could put me in touch with Stan and he was right.

Stan and I exchanged a few emails. Although he didn't remember me, he agreed to meet for lunch. Next thing you know I was sitting with Stan and his friend and fellow retired milkman, Joe Tallariti of Cotati and their wives at San Rafael Joe's. My friend Rayne Wolfe was with me. Rayne is a professional journalist and I wanted her help getting the story down.

Both Stan and Joe are wonderful story tellers. I learned that they met while working for Lucas Valley Dairy which was later purchased by the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery.

Stan was the first African American man to deliver milk in Marin County starting in 1964 when he was hired by Bob Grady at Lucas Valley Dairy on Ida Street in San Rafael. His route covered Sausalito, Marin City, part of Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, part of San Rafael, San Anselmo and Fairfax. Route A was Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Route B was Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Each route had about 125 customers. Back then trucks were not refrigerated and you had to make sure you had enough ice on hand - a major chore. Glass bottles, not cartons and wood crates, not plastic were the norm. It was a very physical job to say the least.

Joe Tallariti and Stan Wells April 19, 2010 San Rafael, Calif.

Stan was born in Texas and came to California when he was about three years old. He and his older brother, James, came by train to meet up with their father's aunt, Madeline Starks, who ran the Lighthouse Cafe in Sausalito. This would have been around 1942. Stan's father worked for Marin Ship at this time.

In 1956 Stan graudated from Tam High and then attended College of Marin and later San Francisco State. During college he worked at the Sunny Hills Institute in San Anselmo until he was drafted into the Army and went to Germany where he served as an MP in the Honor Guard.

When not delivering milk, Stan could be found playing the bongo drums at such old time Marin County night clubs  as Ondine's and the Trident in Sausalito where he remembers meeting Danny Kaye. Stan's wife, Mardelle sang at Zack's.

It's been 12 years since Stan retired and yet sometimes he'll wake from having a dream in which he is still manuevering the narrow and hilly streets of southern Marin County in his milk truck.

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Thank you so much for the great story! I wish I had milk delivered to my door when I was a kid in San Anselmo. I love hearing about the history of our county, so thanks so much for sharing!!! :)

Thanks you for taking the time to write this article. Stan is my father. I am continually amazed by how many people remember and share much love for him. I went to Drake High in San Anselmo, and my high school days were terrific because everyone knew "Stan the Milkman". I really do appreciate you sharing your memories of him........

I feel lucky to say that Stan Wells did deliver milk to our house every week. I was in elementary school when we first moved to San Anselmo, and Laurel's story is much like mine. When I would hear the truck pull up, I would run to open the door and Stan would bring the milk right into the kitchen and stock the fridge. He was the nicest, friendliest delivery person one could ever hope to meet, and to me as a little kid, he seemed so TALL! :) Many years later, when I met my good friend Carlos in high school, and learned that he was Stan's son, well, it was like knowing TWO celebrities. Thank you very much for your story, Katherine. Recognition for Stan Wells is long overdue!

Not only did Stan deliver milk to the front door (where he would leave the milk in a metal insulated box), but if you had a stay at home mom, like mine was in the '60s, Stan would rap on the door, come in calling out 'milkman here' and would walk into the kitchen, open the fridge and see how much milk you actually needed. I'm sure my mom had a standing order, but Stan would leave more or less, depending upon what was actually there. And, if there was a kid staying home sick from school, Stan would leave Fudgsicles or frozen orange juice pops (and of course when we weren't sick my brothers and I would run out to greet Stan at his truck and beg him all the way down the driveway to ask my mom if we could have Fudgsicles - sometimes it even worked!). Great memories!

Laurel thank you for adding to Stan's story!

Grew up in Fairfax with Stan The Milk Man delivering our stuff at the end of a dirt lane in the hills. Always looked forward for the ice cream! His son Carlos and I were/are friends, so that's been a nice connection. Love the Wells family! :-)

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