, Derry, New Hampshire


December 6, 2012

Column: Gone are the days when milk came right to your door


The Ross Dairy soon became a very successful operation. At first, deliveries were by horse-drawn cart. It wasn’t until 1915 that its first milk truck was purchased. Winter deliveries by horse-drawn sleds continued until 1923 due to fact that road plowing was far from today’s standards. Even into the late 1920s, the horse-powered vehicles were sometime brought out during the spring because, as Bert Ross’s son Herbert remembered, “The mud was sometimes up to you knees.” The five-corner area around the present traffic circle was in “mud time” more of a bog than a highway.

During the early 20th century, there was much competition among dairy farmers. In the 1930s there were reported to be 16 dairies delivering milk door-to-door in Derry. Soon, however, the Ross Corner Dairy became the area’s leading milk and egg supplier. Back 60 years ago, the town of Derry had a population of around 6,000 souls and each day the Ross Dairy was selling about 3,500 quarts of milk. They were supplying moo-juice to all the local schools and the Alexander Eastman Hospital as well as to most of the town’s restaurants and stores.

The Ross family guaranteed that their milk would be clean, hygienic and fresh. Milk sold in the afternoon had been processed and bottled before noon time. Generations of customers would drink Ross Dairy Milk and never tasted even a sip of sour milk. They passed state purity tests every year as being 100-percent clean. They bragged that they never lost a cow to disease. In 1932, the farm won first prize in the Pennsylvania Cattle Show — the largest milk show in America.

The customers learned over the years that they could also trust the honesty of the Ross family. Herb Ross in 1981 recollected that “When I was delivering after 7 o’clock in the morning there wasn’t a house where I wouldn’t go right in and put the milk in the refrigerator. We knew exactly what each one needed. If they had a little extra, you’d cut ’em down.”

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