Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day: Package Deliveries

Photo collection of the Ewens family, used with permission, 2016
Package Deliveries
Labor Day Post

This photograph was taken by Henry E. Stanley (1873-1942), a Providence professional photographer. My grandparents bought this beautiful Tudor house from him in 1939. My grandmother sold it in 1958. This photo can only be dated by the age of his now deceased daughter. 

This photo is part of a collection of photos of the home he built in Cranston, Rhode Island about 1912. 

He took photos at various stages (and years) and this one, a simple photo of the driveway, means a lot to me. I blurred out his daughter on her bicycle, because I want to focus on the "delivery side door". 

The door leads to two staircases, one up into the kitchen hallway and one down to the basement. For those who could afford it, specialty companies delivered food directly by truck to the home of the customer. The idea caught on, just as it has today. Many people had milk, cream, eggs and butter delivered. The big department stores in Providence and Boston delivered purchases to the customer's doors on special weekdays. Many bakeries offered deliveries of bread and cakes. My grandmother, although she was an excellent cook, had coconut cupcakes delivered. I watched as she ordered them by phone and they were delivered fresh in the morning. Yum.

The butcher and the "fish guy" delivered orders the same way. I remember the meat man's name was Frank. He called me "Miss". My grandmother let me go down to the door and keep watch for him to drive up the sloped driveway and get out of his truck.  I was in charge of turning on the light. You can see it over the door. 

She kept a basket at the bottom of the stairs so I could carry the wrapped items up to the kitchen while she came down the stairs and paid the delivery man. You had to be home for food delivery because the food was fresh and payment was expected upon delivery. 

The laundry, which went down to the basement by the chute built into the wall, was brought up to the truck by the men who worked for my family business, Victor Cleansing Co. The plant was not far away from this house. I was allowed to throw the towels down the chute. It is a lot better than lugging heavy laundry up and down stairs. The finished laundry was delivered all folded in brown paper and it was carried up to the hallway for my grandmother. You could smell the bleach and soap through the paper.

When the UPS and FedEx men people deliver my orders to my porch, I think of this door often. Everything old is new again.

I thank those who labored in my family business on this Labor Day. I will always remember how hard they worked.