EPISODE 419 TED FREEMAN AND THE SHOTGUN CREAM CAN IN 1955
CREM CANS ARE THE TALL THIN CANS…’SHOTGUN’ CANS…
I never really knew just how tough it was to operate the Freeman farm until I was
much older…like let’s say 82. I did know that Uncle Frank snd Aunt Lucinda worked
very hard seven days a week. We were city boys who came to the Freeman farms
as regular as clockwork and we were always…always…always…welcomed with
open arms and jolly laughter from Aunt Lucinda.
Last week…august 2021…I asked my cousin Ted Freeman, their son…their pride and joy. I asked Ted this question. question.
“Ted, do you remember how much your mom and dad got paid selling
cream in those shotgun cream cans?”
“Let’s say 1955.”
“First, Alan, you used the plural. You said cream cans. Mom and dad only managed
to sell one cream can per week and often that can was not full.”
“What do you remember ?”
“I remember that the cream money payment for last week’s shipment came in a
brown envelope that was delivered by ‘Norm Robertson’ who worked for the
Acton Creamery. He delivered an empty can to us and picked up the can filled
during the previous 7 days. It was always cash; – 7 to $9.00 depending on
the amount that was shipped. In 1955 a full can went for about $10.00. The
‘cream money’ was used to purchase groceries. Meat, eggs and vegetables were
grown on the farm. Some preserved for winter use.”
Take a moment to think about that. Seven to nine dollars a week in 1955.
Grocery money…getting by money. What groceries? Coffee? Doubtful.
Chocolates? Very doubtful. Soft drinks like ginger sale? A luxury.
Freshie…definiitely. What the hell is Freshie? It was a sugary powder that
could be mixed with water to make a couple of quarts of a nice drink when
stuking sheaves of grain or pitching hay. Cheap.
My cousin Ted and I shared a lot of small adventures when we were kids.
Hunting, fishing, pitching hay, swimming in leech infested ponds…usual things.
But we never shared the fact that
much of his family income came from one single shotgun cream can sold
to Norm Robertson at the Acton Creamery. Often the can was not even full.
Just for fun keep a list of your discretionary spending this week. What do
you buy? What could you do without if you depended on $10 per week.
(No doubt there was other farm income but not much…picking cucumbers
for Matthews Wells Pickle Factory in Guelph for Rose Brand pickles)
I guess you need to know what $10 earned in 1955 is worth today.
Hard to believe but inflation over the past 75 years has made that
ten dollars worth $100. So there you have it…can you live on $100
week for all your expenses? Keep a record. I bet you spend big time.
In the early 1950’s the Toronto Daily Star was sold for 3 cents a copy…18 cents a week
for home delivery. The paperboys…Eric and I got half a cent a paper…3 cents
a week per customer. With that I was able to buy a Humber Sports racing
bike with Sturmey Archer 3 speed gears. Must ask Eric what he did with
his profits from our paper route. I never thought for a moment about
the costs of food on our table or the cost of bus fare from Toronto to
the farm near Acton on Sundays Mom did all that. I do not know how she managed
but she did. Everyone did. I do not remember Ted Freeman ever getting