Clip-Clop, Clip-Clop…

This little post will touch on three of our senses: hearing, sight, and smell. Ready?

Horse and wagon
Photo: Horse-drawn garbage wagon, 1915 (I couldn’t find a newer pic! Sue me! 😀 )
(cc) by Seattle Municipal Archives

When you’re four years old as I was from 1949 through 1950, the first thing you noticed was that distinctive sound, as in the title above: clip-clop, clip-clop, coming up the street, closer and closer, louder and louder… the pace slowing as the driver stopped for each delivery.

Sometimes it was ice. Sometimes bread. Sometimes milk. And sometimes it was to collect or sell rags. A horse and wagon would wend its way along the lane behind our old apartment building, and the driver would often announce his wares, calling out, “Rags! Guénilles!” in English and in French. Or “Aieeece! Aieeece!” This would do for English or French – everyone knew he was delivering giant ice cubes; he’d trudge up each fire escape, hefting a heavy block with big black tongs. The muscles he must’ve had! He would shove the ice block into our icebox for us – it served as a predecessor to the all-electric refrigerator we managed to attain a year or so later.

At ground level, from my vantage point on the sidewalk, I would see the huge draft horses, maybe Clydesdales, clip-clopping along the street, usually wearing black blinders on the sides of their heads, so as not to be distracted or frightened by any sudden movements around them, I suppose. Often they’d leave some smelly “deposits” in their wake, a trail of manure mounds that flies would swarm over. I recall the aroma; I get a whiff of it whenever I’m in a rural area during planting season.

That smell would vie for prominence when it was a bread wagon going past. POM Bakery’s wagons would emit a lovely scent of fresh bread as they passed by.

At the sight of the milk wagons, I knew the full glass bottles with their little cardboard caps would be delivered to families like ours, who left the appropriate number of tickets by the door for the milkman. The bottles would be left on our doorsteps; no one ever stole them. Just as with newspapers, now a rare sight, they weren’t something thieves ever coveted.

A snapshot of a simpler time.


12 thoughts on “Clip-Clop, Clip-Clop…

  1. I loved your memories of earlier days. I have one memory of the ice man on my grandmother’s street. He let us have ice chips to suck on. Milk was delivered to our front porch until I was a teenager. We never had bread deliveries, because there was never a bakery in our little town. As for garbage, I can remember only big trucks. Now we take our own garbage to the collection place, since we are beyond the pickup area. Progress!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d like to live in simpler times. My grandmother and mother would tell tales about the iceman and how he had his pick and his big ice block and would come trudging in. My grandmother would sometimes mention an oil man opening up the outside trapdoor to the cellar and he’d bring oil for the furnace. If memory serves me right, it was a big hose from his truck that brought the oil into the basement. I like the idea of the clip-clopping horses coming down the street. I was meant to live in an earlier and simpler time because I often feel the world spins too fast for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had a coal truck, not oil. Filthy stuff! But only til we moved to ‘nicer’ area. Then oil.
      I think every era has its good and bad points. (A statement typical of a Libra to make. 😁)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember my grandmother saying the “oil man” did not get the hose in right or overfilled the slot one time and oil ran everywhere. I imagine the coal dust would have been a terrible mess as well.

        You make a valid point Ellie … I would not like to go back as far as “Little House on the Prairie” days for example. Chamber pots and horse and buggy days may be a tad hard to take.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have similar memories of that period. Very nicely recaptured in your piece. Yes, the photo is from an earlier period. By the late 40’s we had garbage trucks, with men standing in the back of the truck. The other man would toss the garbage ail up to him to be emptied.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Richard, and welcome to my blog! Yes, I had a hard time finding just the right photo with the creative commons (cc) designation. So I had to ‘cheat’! 😀


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