Lavoie’s Dairy – 515 Wilder Street

I spent most of the 1960s as a preteen living at 505 Wilder Street on a block that had the Morey School at one end (corner of Pine and Wilder) and Lavoie’s Dairy at the other (corner of Shaw and Wilder). The dairy was a fascinating place. Each morning, its milk trucks rolled out into the streets of the city; their drivers leaving glass quarts of thick white milk in silver insulated boxes at back doors throughout the neighborhood. In the summer, I would wander through the field we called the “Morey School Yard” to the back of the dairy’s bottling building and peer through the windows to see pint sized bottles of milk click and clack along an ancient conveyer machine to be filled with a precise quantity of liquid and sealed with a tightly fitting cardboard disk. On a good day, one of the production workers would snatch a pint of chocolate off the line and pass it to me out the window to enjoy.

Late one afternoon in August 1966 – I was just seven years old at the time but my memory is vivid – the heavy scent of smoke filled the air and the neighborhood erupted in frenzied activity. One of those old-style delivery trucks parked in the bottling facility had caught fire and the fire had spread to the building itself. The Lowell Fire Department responded promptly and quickly had everything under control. Whatever the actual damage, the bottling facility never resumed operations. Instead, the dairy imported already bottled milk and delivered that from its Wilder Street base. That only lasted a few more years, however, when it fell victim to changing shopping habits. Everyone started buying milk at the grocery store and not having it delivered to the doorstep. Eventually the dairy was torn down and a couple of houses were built in its place.

4 Responses to Lavoie’s Dairy – 515 Wilder Street

  1. Steve Mello says:

    I remember those Divco milk trucks well. We had Burbecks Dairy when growing up on Canton Street. I remember seeing these truck loaded with milk and ice, (no refrigeration) lumbering up the street with the milkman at the wheel. The Burbecks drivers wore pinstriped coveralls and if you were good he sometimes would give you a piece of ice on a hot day.

  2. John Quealey says:

    I did the same at Catherwoods in Wigginsville including the free half pint of chocolate milk in the bottle.

  3. David Murphy says:

    Thanks for posting this, nice to see, I lived at 501 Wilder St and loved going over to get milk as a kid..It was also nice to see my dad, John Murphy in the photo he is the tall one in the black suit

    Dick thanks for posting this.

  4. Joany Murphy Ilg says:

    Thank you for sharing this BLOG and memory, I too remember the kind workers who from time to time would pass along a box of chocolate milk. Also want to thank you for the pictures the second photo has a picture of my dad, John Murphy, we lived at 501 Wilder St. Thank you