Last weekend, I was able to photograph a piece of my childhood — the Merry Milkman game that my brother and I played with for hours and hours as kids whenever we visited Grandma’s house. It had been years since I even looked at this game — which was stored in an old Butternut coffee can for the entire time that I’ve been acquainted with it.
My Grandma was the mother of three boys, who probably destroyed the box for this game in short order — thus the coffee can — but you won’t hear me complaining. I’ve spent hours admiring the illustrated scene of the baseball game on the exterior of the coffee can during my childhood visits to Grandma’s house.
Even the bottom of the can is stamped with what must have been Butternut Coffee’s tag line — “The coffee delicious.”
But back to the Merry Milkman game…
The game consists of several cardboard buildings that fit into plastic stands. On the stands are places to “deliver” tiny bottles of milk, sticks of butter and cartons of eggs — from the dairy via small trucks. In all my memories of this game, I never remember following the actual instructions.
Luckily (not that we ever read them before now) the instructions say that Merry Milkman is also great as a toy — for free play without the constraints of game rules. This is how I remember playing.
My little brother and I would set up the houses “miles” from the dairy in Grandma’s formal living room. One house would be out in “the country” where you would have to drive the delivery truck up the side and across the cushions of grandmas nubby upholstered couch.
Another would be on the ledge of the fireplace — next to the “Grand Canyon.”
If the dairy delivery trucks were lucky, my brother and I might cluster several in a row — a subdivision.
I always liked looking at the tiny houses — wondering what sort of people lived in there.
Occasionally, we would actually use the spinner that came with the game…
…but only so that one of the trucks would have engine trouble. That way my brother (who is now an automotive engineer and has forever loved anything with wheels and an engine) could try to “fix” the truck while I made a plethora of weird sputtering sounds — indicating that he better try harder or the butter was going to melt before the delivery was made.
Since Grandma is no longer able to be the keeper of the Merry Milkman game, it has gone to live with my brother (after he let me take these photos that is). I’ll always remember the fun that we had playing this game at Grandma’s house (it was pretty much the first thing we asked for when we got through the door).
I’ll probably never figure out why the butter is green and the eggs are yellow but one thing is for sure — whoever invented this game in 1955 managed to make something that two generations of our family has enjoyed playing with.
Has anyone else ever played The Merry Milkman game? If so, did you play by the rules?