Monday, March 06, 2006

Coming Full Circle

Television, computers and the Internet have almost replaced the mail order catalog for the purchasing of a wide range of products. The latest fad is having someone else do your grocery shopping and delivering it to your door for a fee.

That is not new. As a matter of fact, the depression era residents not only had their groceries delivered but also did not have to pay for them until payday, which was usually at the end of the month.

Mr. Centeio, of Portuguese descent, had a store in Punchbowl, near Queen's Hospital. He had salesmen that went to neighborhoods with a high population of Portuguese such as Kakaako and catered to their household needs.

The salesman came to our house in the beginning of the week to take the orders and delivered the groceries at the end of the week. We stuck close to the house when it came time for him to collect what was owed him because he always brought a small bag of jellybeans or other candies for us.

Groceries were not the only thing delivered to us. There was the iceman who delivered blocks of ice every day of the week. Yes, ice. Most of the families in Kakaako had iceboxes rather than refrigerators. The ice went in a compartment at the top of the icebox. There was a pan under the icebox to catch the water as the ice melted. Forget to empty this pan and you would have water all over the kitchen floor.

Another important commodity delivered on a weekly basis was kerosene. Again, most people had kerosene stoves to cook on. We had a three-burner and a separate oven that was placed on top of the stove for baking. An upside down gallon of kerosene at the side of the stove fed the burners with fuel.

My uncle Johnny, only a few years older than me, was killed by a kerosene truck The older kids enjoyed the thrill of riding by hanging on to the back of the truck as it traveled from one house to the next. Somehow my uncle slipped and fell under one of the truck's rear tires.

Milk, too, was delivered to your door. The milk came in different size bottles and also in chocolate and strawberry flavors as well as the customary white. Since my Dad worked for Dairymen’s we had our milk delivered at a discount.

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