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Edisto Farms Dairy, Trenholm Plaza, etc: 1960s   46 comments

Posted at 4:45 pm in business,historic,landmark,restaurants

Like Martin's Coffee House, Edisto Dairies first turned up in a comment thread, and seemed to have a number of people who fondly remember it, so I'm copying those comments here, and making a full-on Edisto post...

Grocery shopping has changed a lot in just my lifetime (I'm closing fast on 48..), but in the lifetime of someone like my father, it changed immensely. First of all, when he was growing up in the 1920s in Fernandina Beach Florida, how you went to the store was different. You probably walked most of the time. Sometimes you might take a horse cart. For one particular store, my grandfather would put a handcart on the local rails and you would see-saw there. You certainly didn't drive a car. When you got there, you would probably give your list to the grocer whose help would fetch your items to you. You certainly wouldn't go back into the stock yourself and pick things out. You might not even pay cash for anything, as the grocer would have an account for your family which you would periodically settle. And just to continue this digression in a seasonal mode -- if it were near Thanksgiving, you would go to the butcher, pick out a turkey, tie a string around its neck and walk it back to your house.

All that was if you actually went to the store. For a lot of things, you didn't have to. The ice-man would drive his cart to your house and replenish your ice-box, and the milk-man would come by in his wagon and leave full bottles on your doorstep and pick up your empties to clean and re-use.

Well, by and by the iceman cometh-ed not, but the milkman was a steady presence for over half of the 20th century, featuring in innumerable risque jokes and arriving at dawn or before day-in, day-out and year round. In Columbia, or at least my part of Richland County, the milkman was Edisto Dairies.

I've forgotten the milkman's name, though I knew it well at the time, but the Edisto truck would come off of Trenholm road and make its way onto my street and I knew that if I got up early enough, and ran down to the corner, the milkman would let me steer the truck from the corner to our house. The truck was something like a UPS truck, with the "doors" always open on both sides. The floor was corrugated metal with a very spartan seat for the driver. My mother would make sure I had on shoes before sending me off, as there were apt to be glass fragments on the floor of the truck. I would hop in from the "passenger's" side and take the wheel and the milkman would ease the truck into gear and off we would go.

Edisto's milk came in standard bottles. I think some dairies had long-neck ones, but Edisto's were short neck, and were sealed with flat, waxed paper caps. I'm unsure now what actually held the caps to the bottles -- perhaps they were put on while the milk was warm with pasturization and vacuum-sealed as it cooled. The caps were actually in some demand for school projects. I remember in particular at Satchel-Ford Elementary we had a "counting man" which was a flat wooden figure of a man who had no fingers. and we would somehow attach milk-bottle caps to his hands for various counting exercises.

I don't know much about Edisto the company. From the name, I assume it was a collection of farms along the Edisto river, but I could certainly be wrong. As a commenter notes, they advertised that their milk was "Golden Guernsey" milk, and aside from their milk-routes and, according to commenter Lew, a milk plant on Superior Drive, they also had several ice-cream stores in town. The one I recall was in Trenholm Plaza in the far corner, next to Trenholm road. The place has, I think, always been some kind of ice-cream store since then, and currently houses Hooligan's, a nice place to take kids for ice-cream and a sandwich. (Though that wing of the plaza is to be torn down soon). They also had several huge advertising displays in town. The one I remember most was on Beltline Boulevard, and was a huge animated stream of pouring milk flowing from a big carton into a big mug. (I suppose the milk stream was some sort of painted revolving spiral..

The government at both state and federal levels has always intervened in the dairy market. I think it was primarily the state governments until the New Deal -- as a child, one of my father's family tasks was to take the coloring agent that came with each purchase of margarine, break the capsule, and spread it on all the sticks of margarine to make them yellow since so as to protect dairy interests it was illegal to sell yellow margarine in Florida. After that, there was a web of regional price support rules, and it was illegal to sell milk more cheaply than the agreed local price. I think that started to change in the 60s and 70s, and the milk market became more national. I don't know if that had an effect on Edisto, but I suspect it may have. At any rate sometime in that timeframe, they were bought out by Coburg dairies.

The rise of supermarkets had already been reshaping the grocery market for decades, and with their ample refrigeration cases and centralized locations, at some point it no longer made sense for dairies to deliver to indivudal homes, or for families to want them to. I may be wrong, but I don't think Edisto/Coburg home delivery lasted much if at all past the turn of the 70s (actually potato chip delivery lasted a lot longer!), and today milk is a complete commodity, like sugar. You buy "whole", "2 percent", "skim", or "nonfat" and never notice whose name is on the top of the carton and if the cows are anything beyond "cow" (ie: Jersey, Guernsey etc), they keep it to themselves. Not to mention that the whole insurance industry would descend like a horde of locusts on any company letting an 8 year old "steer" one of their trucks.

UPDATE 11 October 2011: Added a photo above of an old Edisto sign currently on display at the new Mast General Store on Main Street.

Written by ted on November 21st, 2008

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46 Responses to 'Edisto Farms Dairy, Trenholm Plaza, etc: 1960s'

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  1. I've copied a "starter set" of comments here from the post about Forest Lake Park, so that's why there are a few non-sequiters and the dates on the first 9 comments are not exactly right.

    ted

    21 Oct 08 at 4:48 pm

  2. Found this while looking for the name of an ice cream parlor in Trenholm Plaza. Anyone remember? I do remember Garber Shoes back in the corner where radio shack was. and some little deli next to it where Chico's is. I remember staying home from school because I had TERRIBLE poison ivy, and my mom and I met a friend of hers there for lunch. (60's). And my mom always bought my shoes from Mr. Garber. I believe Dr. Salter, the dentist was also in Trenholm Plaza. We had our dentistry done there.
    Back at Forest Lake, The men's store was run by Mr. Bob Moore, a neighbor of ours. My paternal grandparents had a laundrymat in Forest lake shopping center, before moving across Trenholm in the late 50's. It was a norge village with the big Norge ball out front. Then my father opened Gillespie Cleaners which was there until about 1998 until it was sold to Burnette's cleaners.

    The branch bank was First Citizens, because the Cleaners always did their banking there, and I can still see my grandmother walking across trenholm to make the deposit. Also, I loved the seemingly 'secret' passageway that went out the back side of Campbells to the shops in back.

    Mary Gillespie Johnson

    29 Oct 08 at 4:48 pm

  3. The dairy in Trenholm plaza was "The Edisto Dairy" and was associated with Edisto milk. I think Edisto was bought out by Coble, but I can't remember if the ice cream store became Coble. At any rate, it was where Hooligans now is, I think. (Edisto used to deliver our milk -- if I got up early, I could run down to the corner and meet the milkman, and he would let me steer the truck the rest of the way to our house. Man, things were a lot better before "insurance" started running our lives!)

    I do remember the Threnholm Plaza deli in that we went there several times, and I pressed my mother for an explanation of exactly what a "delicatessen" was and was never quite sure even after the explanation what distinguished a deli from other food stores. I did not know the "Gerber" in Gerber Shoes was a local -- I always assumed it was a chain.

    ted

    29 Oct 08 at 4:48 pm

  4. Edisto Farms Dairy was the name of the company that ran the Ice Cream Palor at Trenholm Plaza. They featured "Golden Guersey (sp?) Milk" and had square milk cartons. They had two or three animated signs around Columbia featuring milk being poured into glasses and giant cows heads. In the late 60's-early 70s they were later bought out by Coburg Dairy of Charleston.

    Edisto made a whole range of dairy products, including cheeses and ice creams which you could by at the Trenholm Plaza location. Coburg did too for a while, but now I think they do only milk.

    BTW, what is probably confusing you about gerber shoes is that they featured "Pol Parrott Shoes," which I think was a franchise/license type deal as they had a large neon sign on their store advertising them.

    Tom

    30 Oct 08 at 4:48 pm

  5. My family first moved to Columbia about 1962, when I was four, and our first house was near North Trenholm Baptist Church. That first year my father liked to put us all in the car after church and drive around and explore Columbia.

    I have a very clear memory of my dad deciding to pull into Edisto Dairy for the first time and get us all ice cream, and he and my mother and my grandmother were all trying to figure out how to pronounce 'Edisto' before we went in. "ED-istow? ed-IS-toe? ee-DIE-stow? Eddy's-TOE?"

    Dennis

    30 Oct 08 at 4:48 pm

  6. Yes, I remember the Edisto displays. Wasn't one somewhere near Midlands Tech, with an animated (twirling) ribbon of milk being poured into a glass?

    I'm very hazy here, but I thought that first they became or merged with "Coble" and then "Coble" merged with some Orangeburg outfit to become "Coburg"

    I definitely remember "Pol Parrot".

    ted

    30 Oct 08 at 4:48 pm

  7. Yes, ted, I definitely remember the giant carton pouring the milk. It was a really cool illusion. It was on South Beltline near Richland Tech. (before it became Midlands).

    Not sure of the exact reason, but about everyone I knew had their first driving lessons with their dad in that big parking lot behind Richland Tech.

    Dennis

    30 Oct 08 at 4:54 pm

  8. Coble and Coburg were two seperate companies. Coble lasted until the 80s or 90s.

    There was another animated pouring milk carton on I-26 near Piney Grove Rd.

    Tom

    31 Oct 08 at 4:55 pm

  9. Edisto farms Dairy Plant was located on Superior Drive in Rosewood. It was owned by the Kapp and Guess families and was bought by Coberg dairy out of Charleston in the early 70’s. My father worked there and it was a cool place for a kid to visit. With the packaging process and the smell of ammonia for refrigeration always constant. I got to ride in the delivery trucks when they came through our neighborhood. Great ice cream because of the high milk fat content.

    Lew

    12 Nov 08 at 4:55 pm

  10. Tom, where was the pouring milk carton on 1-26 and Piney Grove? I grew up on that exit, and I don't remember it. Not saying it was not there, just need a landmark. On the same note, does anybody remember the cow and milk carton that turned circles in Charleston? I think it is/was Coble. It may still be there. It's in North Charleston on 17.

    Jonathan

    24 Nov 08 at 9:55 am

  11. It may not have been exactly Piney Grove, but somewhere between modern Harbison and I-20 there was a pouring carton on the left side of I-26 if you were going towards Columbia.

    Topm

    24 Nov 08 at 1:05 pm

  12. I worked at Edisto Farms Dairy from 1966-70. We made the ice cream on-site and it was delicious. When Coburg bought us out they changed the ice cream and imo that's when the decline of the business began.

    Mike

    10 Jan 09 at 10:39 am

  13. Wow, what memories! There was also an Edisto Farms Ice Cream store in Harden street in 5-Points near Groucho's and the Eau Claire Bakery. My best friend worked there in the mid 60's and I loved hanging out with him(and "sampling" all the flavors).

    Bill

    24 Feb 09 at 4:19 pm

  14. Thanks for the information. My mother-in-law lives in Newberry, SC. Recently, while cleaning house, we found some Edisto Farms Dairy bottles. It says Columbia, SC. Phone 4-6916 on the bottles. Any idea how old?
    The back of the bottle has a "Golden Guernsey" Trade Mark. They are quart size bottles.

    Tommy

    11 Jan 10 at 9:08 pm

  15. Not really, but that form of phone number hasn't been used since the early 1960s.

    ted

    11 Jan 10 at 11:10 pm

  16. There used to be an Edisto dairy store on North Main where the Sonic is now located across from Earlewood Park. I remember as a kid my parents would take my brother & me to get milkshakes from this location. You could get a milkshake for $0.59 that was so big , we used to get an extra cup and divide it among all of us.I t was a very good milkshake, not like the processed ones they make now.

    Dick

    28 Mar 10 at 9:58 am

  17. I stumbled upon this site while trying to find out if Edisto Ice Cream was just a part of my imagination. I mentioned it as a joke and then started wondering if I was just confusing it with Zesto. Glad to see my memory still works!

    We lived about a mile from Trenholm Plaza and either walked down Lakeshore or rode our bikes there probably every Saturday growing up. Garber's shoes was a common destination for us as it belonged to my Uncle Leon (Garber). My favorite part of our visits was going in back to get a 10-cent coke out of the "open door-pull bottle" vending machine.

    I remember Colonial Food Store across at Forest Lake Shopping Center... was the one at Trenholm Plaza a Red and White? Seems there was also a party supply shop between Garber's and the Post Office in the corner, or that may have come along later. Fun memories!

    Shannon

    11 Aug 10 at 11:39 am

  18. Shannon,

    There were then (as now) actually two grocery stores at Trenholm Plaza. There was an A&P (you can see it here) where Publix is (the building was torn down to build Publix) and a Piggly Wiggly where The Fresh Market< is.

    ted

    11 Aug 10 at 11:43 am

  19. When I was between the ages of 4 and 10 years old (1961 to approx. 1968) Edisto Farms Dairy delivered milk to our house off Leesburg Road. They supplied a metal box that was insulated to leave the milk, and I believe Orange Juice and other items in.
    Mom would leave a note in the box stating what she needed for that day. We called him "The Milkman" and he would park his truck on the street in front of our house. He kind of knew what each house wanted and would bring those items with him from the truck. If the list Mom left had something new on it he would hurry back out to the truck and bring it back to the insulated box. I still have the box and it has "Edisto Farms Dairy" stamped into the metal on the side. I also have a newspaper ad for the dairy from the early 60s with my picture. My Mom entered me in a contest to be in the ad and I was. It says "My Mom only gives me the best milk from Edisto Farms Dairy" And I'm sitting with a glass of milk in my hands and the Company logo on the glass. We used to have garbage men that came into the yard and took the cans back to the street to empty in the garbage truck. The mailman would sometimes bring mail to the door just to see how we were doing. Everyone knew each other back then, we could even sleep with our doors unlocked, not today.

    Rick

    16 Jan 11 at 5:37 pm

  20. At the Mast Store oin Main street there is an old sign for Edisto Dairy on dispaly. If you come in from main St. it is in the upper section on the right side of the building close to the Main St. display windows.

    Tom

    1 Jun 11 at 5:40 pm

  21. I used to work at the Edisto Ice Cream Parlor in '72 when I was a junior at Flora H.S. Coburg Daries owned it then, but everyone still just called it Edisto. I left there to work at Constan Car Wash just up the street. Coburg ended up selling the parlor to the manager that had run the parlor for several years. I remember he turned the party room in the back to serve a buffet style lunch that lasted for a short time before he finally shut the place down.

    William

    19 Oct 11 at 9:18 pm

  22. tonkatoy

    1 Mar 12 at 12:28 pm

  23. In the early 70's, they had the best orange sherbert and a really cool baseball pinball type machine in the back room. Went to many birthday parties there as a kid.

    Dave

    22 Oct 12 at 11:06 am

  24. tonkatoy, I like the 5 digit phone number painted on the truck in your link above.

    Terry

    23 Oct 12 at 4:00 pm

  25. Terry, I think ALpine was understood to be in front of that number.

    tonkatoy

    24 Oct 12 at 6:40 am

  26. Love those old phone numbers - mine was Sunset as the prefix --

    Beth

    7 Nov 12 at 9:15 am

  27. Beth, I know the 78 corresponded to the SUnset numbers, like 782 and 788.

    Who recalls this one ALpine 2-2177

    Terry

    7 Nov 12 at 8:47 pm

  28. I wonder why they went away from doing phone numbers that way.

    What was the 77X prefix?

    tonkatoy

    8 Nov 12 at 7:28 am

  29. I remember the Alpine numbers - they were the 252, 254 numbers I think.

    Beth

    9 Nov 12 at 11:15 am

  30. I don't remember any other exchanges but Alpine and Sunset. As a kid the 252 exchange was all the way out in Irmo. The first phone number I remember us having was 252-9447. Funny I can remember that but I can't remember what I had for dinner last night!! It was a party line and a nosy little old lady down the street would always eavesdrop on everyone's conversations.

    Homer

    10 Nov 12 at 1:16 am

  31. We had an ALpine exchange on S. Marion street near Rosewood. It was 254.

    Was ALpine 2 -2177 the number for WCOS?

    When I was a little kid in the 60's, I was in a TV commercial for Edisto Farms Dairy. Me and my brother were the 'kids' and Miss South Carolina was our 'mom'. It was filmed at the WIS channel 10 studio. I remember having to eat a marshmallow cookie and ask 'mom' for 'more milk, please'. I don't know if it ever was on TV. I never saw it.

    Dan

    18 Jun 13 at 3:11 pm

  32. "Was ALpine 2 -2177 the number for WCOS?"

    Yes......it was the instant request number. Good call, Dan!

    Terry

    19 Jun 13 at 4:44 pm

  33. Whe I was a kid, we would sit around listening to WCOS with Woody Windham, just waiting for the insant request. Back then we had a rotory dial telephone, at the commecials we would dial all the numbers to the instant request line, except for the last number, and if there was an instant request, all we had to do was dial the last number. I got the instant request many times. I remember Woody Windham would ask the callers from time to time this question, "Did you Woody this morning?" I remember my sister and I laughing until we cried when the caller answered, "Yes, but I forgot to wipe".

    Rick

    24 Jun 13 at 1:53 pm

  34. For those of you not familiar with the Woody Windham morning show back then, I should have mentioned, the question, "Did you Woody this morning?" was actually asking ,"Did you listen to the Woody Windham show this morning?" I did many times but never forgot to wipe.

    Rick

    24 Jun 13 at 2:10 pm

  35. @ Rick, I remember when Woody & Leo were on WNOK. I remember a skit that they said "Everybody out of here, there's a lobster loose!" Never really understood that @ 11 years old, but always thought it was funny. I believe I had a Woody & Leo WNOK shirt that might have had a picture of a lobster on the front of it.

    jonathan

    24 Jun 13 at 2:20 pm

  36. @ Jonathan, I remember that, it was funny. I didn't understand it either. Never know what they might have been smoking though. If you still had the shirt, I'm sure it would be a collectable. And the lobster STILL might be on the loose, who knows? Thanks for the reply.

    Rick

    24 Jun 13 at 3:51 pm

  37. See my post Jan. 16, 2011 on the thread.

    Rick

    24 Jun 13 at 3:53 pm

  38. The "loose lobster" was a rant by Bill Murray. Here's aYouTube page with the audio. Apparently it's from a National Lampoon Radio Hour show in 1978.

    Mike

    24 Jun 13 at 4:25 pm

  39. @ Mike, cool. I watched SNL but I never remember seeing that skit. Very interesting. I smoked a little in my early 20"s, and as I said, Woody may have been smoking a little also.
    Thanks for the post.

    Rick

    24 Jun 13 at 4:57 pm

  40. Sorry, should have said Ntl. Lampoon Radio Hour.

    Rick

    24 Jun 13 at 4:59 pm

  41. It was also a nod to Rock Lobster, by the B-52s, which was pretty popular when Woody went on the road with his DJ bidness.

    I think Woody's been fired from every radio station in Columbia!

    tonkatoy

    25 Jun 13 at 7:05 am

  42. I really miss The Water Man; Bessie (Betsy?) Mae Mucho, the cleaning lady; Orville Carswell, airline pilot extraordinaire; The Fat Man; Brother Larry Green; Beach Billy, etc. But then, I’m easily amused.

    badger

    25 Jun 13 at 9:01 am

  43. Remember when 104.7 was giving away the Z-28? I think it was September 1984 or so.

    tonkatoy

    25 Jun 13 at 9:43 am

  44. That was the fire-engine red Coca-Cola Camaro, right? I think the promotion was that on some undisclosed day, they would pull behind someone with a WNOK bumper sticker, and that person would win it. I don't remember the name of the winner, but it was a blonde chick.

    badger

    25 Jun 13 at 10:54 am

  45. That was the one, badger. I'm pretty sure I was in class (Chem 111 or something) that morning and missed the giveaway. That or I was listening to FOX 102. That's about the time I switched over.

    tonkatoy

    26 Jun 13 at 6:41 am

  46. MY DAD, WAS THE MILKMAN FOR EDISTO DAIRIES, THROUGH THE LATE 60'S AND EARLY 70'S IT CHANGED OVER TO COBURG, MY DAD WORKED THERE WHEN A COWORKER GOT KILLED ON THE DOCK, LOVED PLAYING AT THAT DAIRY ON THE PLASTIC COWS THAT SAT OUT BACK, I FELL OFF OF ONE OF THOSE MILK BOXES AND SPLIT MY LIP, TODAY I LAUGH.

    LOREE

    9 Oct 13 at 9:47 am

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