the view through the windshield
1948 Divco Truck: Right To Your Doorstep!

It seems hard to believe in today's world of self-service-everything (they call it "self-service" because it sounds a lot better than what it really is: "no-service"), but there was a time in America when merchants actually brought goods right to your door - free.

Hucksters drove through neighborhoods in station wagons and pickup trucks, selling fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. Ice cream trucks prowled neighborhoods on hot summer afternoons. Milk and bakery goods were delivered early each morning - mostly in Divco delivery trucks.

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Divco trucks were first produced in 1926 by the Detroit Industrial Vehicle Company. In 1938, the firm introduced the Model U which featured the familiar sloping nose, folding doors and stand and stand-up driving position. The U was Divco's most popular offering and continued with only minor design changes until the firm went out of business in 1986.

It rode on a 100-inch wheelbase for making tight turns and was powered by a sturdy 4-cylinder Continental engine. Top speed was 46 mph.

Divco became a victim of a changing culture. Its best sales year was 1948, when 6,385 of the little trucks rolled out of the Warren, Michigan plant. No wonder they made so many: in 1948, per capita consumption of dairy products was 400 pounds per year and 80% of all milk produced was home-delivered.

By the mid-1960s, home delivery had dropped to under 30% of all milk sales and per-capita consumption of dairy products had dropped to 300 pounds per year. Home delivery of bread and other bakery products had fallen by a similar percentage.

The age of the supermarket doomed these little purpose-built trucks. By the time Divco went under, annual per-capita consumption of dairy products was down to 220 pounds. There is a club for Divco enthusiasts.

I have a 1:43 scale 'Dugan's Bakery' Divco - an old DeHanes resin model made in the mid-1990s - placed on my O-gauge train layout.

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When I was growing up in Philadelphia, Dugan's delivered bread and baked goods to our home in one of their black and cream Divco Model U's. The company's slogan was 'Bakers for the home since 1878'. Another 1:43 scale Divco in my collection is a Model U with 'Borden's Dairy Products' markings:

Remember When: 1948
autoblogIn 1948, the Berlin Airlift delivered food and supplies in defiance of the Russian blockade. Truman defeated Dewey in a U.S. Presidential upset. Israel became an independent nation.

New products included V-8 Juice, Nestle Quik, Pepsi-Cola in cans and 33 rpm and 45 rpm records. UAW autoworkers were paid $1.60 per hour; a new Ford cost $1,236. The 100 millionth American car was produced. In occupied Japan, the Honda Motor Company was founded.

Several new TV shows debuted: Ed Sullivan's 'Toast of the Town', 'Candid Camera', kiddie show 'Kukla, Fran and Ollie', 'The Perry Como Show' and 'The Milton Berle Show'. Among the top movies for 1948 were 'Easter Parade', 'Key Largo' and 'The Treasure of Sierra Madre'. In 1948, a movie ticket cost 45¢.

Big '48 record hits included Nat King Cole's 'Nature Boy', Vaughn Monroe's 'Red Roses for a Blue Lady', 'The Woody Woodpecker Song' by Kay Kaiser Orchestra and, for Christmas, 'All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth' by Spike Jones & his City Slickers.

the view through the windshield blog

Several famous folks were born in '48: Bruce Jenner, photographer Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Springsteen and Meryl Streep.

Deaths included Mohandas Gandhi, Orville Wright and Babe Ruth.

And, in 1948, the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, defeating the Boston Braves.

originally posted 7/6/07, illustration copyright 1995, text copyright 2007-20 Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


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