Now that we are into May, we know spring is here, by the calendar at least, and all the fun activities that go with this time of the year.
One of the special things I enjoy is going to my favorite ice cream parlor and indulging in a delicious sundae, banana split or milk shake.
I know, the doctor says to eat fats and sweets in moderation for your health's sake. On the other hand, he says, "But you have to live a little, so treat yourself once in a while."
So I like to take him up on that, especially these warm spring and summer evenings and "live a little" with one of my favorite ice cream treats.
A while back, some friends gave me an interesting book titled "Ohio Dairies" written by Lou and Sue McFadden from Holmes County. Lou spent a lifetime working in the dairy industry. He compiled, county by county, a list of all the dairies that were in business from many years ago until more recently.
Looking at those in Trumbull County brings back many memories. Years ago we had more than one favorite place to get our sundae or banana split. We would pick the place that we would give us the biggest servings or had the greatest variety of flavors. And we had lots of choices.
Many familiar dairies from large to small are listed in this book.
Warren Sanitary Milk Company had a great ice cream store. Rishers was another well-known name. McAllister Dairy Farms with one of the first gallon jug businesses was around for awhile. Biggins Dairy in Cortland was a popular one in that area.
Among the smaller dairies that milked cows and bottled and distributed milk were ones like Banner's Crab Creek Dairy in Girard, Lou Ida Farm in Mineral Ridge and Brownwood Farm in North Bloomfield.
There are many more smaller ones that both produced and bottled milk to take advantage of direct selling to get the most from the consumer dollar.
Then, as is true constantly, our society changed. Those who were called "juggers," such as McAllisters and Lawsons, were becoming more popular. They had lots of stores easy for customers to reach. Milk sold in one-gallon jugs, usually plastic, was less expensive. Better refrigeration allowed milk to stay fresh longer, and daily or every other day home delivery was not as important.
Stores were becoming larger and were called supermarkets. They liked to offer milk in gallon jugs at lower prices, often as loss leaders - that is, they would sell milk at cost just to lure customers in the store because milk was and is considered an essential food.
Demand for home delivery declined sharply, and the small producer dairies were forced out of business. It was unfortunate to see these local business folks forced out by tough competition.
Another important development entered into the picture. That was much more strict health and sanitary regulations and requirements. Smaller dairies couldn't afford the costs that went with these strict regulations.
Taking a historic look back, we find many small cheese factories were once in business in the county. Just about every local crossroads had one.
Back in the mid- to late 1800s and early 1900s, the main transportation was horse and wagon. Milk from the small dairy farms was not well refrigerated and couldn't be hauled far. So small, locally owned cheese factories developed as a way to concentrate the milk into a form that it would keep and could be stored.
In the late 1800s, northeastern Ohio was one of the major cheese producing areas in the eastern United States. Buildings that housed these small cheese factories can still be found in many local communities. I know of at least two in North Bloomfield.
So remember the long, rich dairy industry in Trumbull County and celebrate it by enjoying that delicious ice cream treat some summer evening!
Parker grew up in Trumbull County and is an independent writer for the Tribune Chronicle.