Collins Historical Society news

Staff Writer
Tri-County Times

Back in the 1930s, you would hear the excited chatter of children during the early evening. The sound was children on Hugh Fertig’s milk wagon and you knew the milk wagon was coming.

In the 30s, Hugh and Virginia (Boitnott) Fertig and family had a milk route in Collins, delivering every evening. The family lived south of the now Methodist Church; their dairy barn was on the north of the church and across the street. The six or seven Guernsey cows were their livelihood. (note that at this time in history, Collins was very much a rural community with many barns, sheds and cribs holding what was needed for cows, horses and chickens).

Since Hugh also drove one of the old wood-framed school buses, he used it to deliver his milk. When school was out for the summer, he would remove the chassis and use just the flatbed underneath.

Pat (Fertig) Caulkins shared with us how her dad and brothers, Jack and Gene, did the outside chores and Pat and her sister, JoAnn, helped their mother with the inside milk chores. When the milk was brought to the house, it was poured through a strainer and filter, cooled in cold water and then bottled. They bottled the milk in disinfected pint or quart bottles and put on cardboard caps. Virginia also made cottage cheese once a week. That was a treat for everyone!

Virginia was the bookkeeper, but when someone couldn’t pay, Hugh would say, “Forget the debt. They have little kids to feed.”

Many town kids would head for the Fertig place in the evenings, hoping for room on the milk wagon. The kids had fun picking up the empty bottles and replacing them with full ones. Hugh had no problem trusting those children with glass bottles as they went door to door.

Thank you to Pat Caulkins for sharing this story.

Note: Charlie Vasey also had milk cows and delivered milk. We remember him driving his cows from the barn down the street to his pasture.

Other big news

Thank you to John Duesbury, a 1952 Collins graduate, for sending us the new website https://www.collinsschoollife.com/

There are over 1,000 downloadable pages of stories, newspaper articles, events and photos from the Collins, Iowa school, beginning in 1882. Share the website with your friends.