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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Your Grocer's Dairy Case

Your Grocer's Dairy Case

Supermarket dairy case circa 1950. You'll get change back from your half-dollar if you purchase a dozen eggs. View full size.

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Oooh, that smell!!

My family lived upstairs from a "butter & egg" shop just like this in the '40s and '50s...I can still smell the cheese, butter and fresh ground coffee and peanut butter 60 years later!

Deliveries in the 50s

included A.C. Petersen's or Sealtest for milk, Viking (baked goods - the best Swedish limpa), Charles Chips (in a big tin - but State Line from the grocery store was better) and Hartford Club soda.

Early 50s in Hartford

The early 1950s in Hartford meant a milkman and a bread man stopped by the apartment house daily or every other day carrying huge trays with all sorts of dairy and baked products. And there was a horse (mule? donkey?) drawn vegetable cart which came down the street several times a week. There may have been other such services, but I cannot recall.

Nonetheless, every few days my mother would take me to the corner market where she would obtain mostly package goods. My only vivid recollection is the grocer using what seemed like 8 foot long pincers to grab boxes from the high shelves.


We had self service for everything except meat and produce in the 30-40's at our local Safeway. However, no carts, so one either piled up one's purchases somewhere near the register or brought along a kid to help carry (me!). The meat section must have been under contract since we paid the butcher separately. It was easier then because milk was delivered and choices of everything were very limited. Chips meant potato -- period (not that we could afford them).

Service! That's what we want.

Many people nowadays don't realize that idea of "serve yourself" was an innovation at the time. Prior to that, all the grocery products were stored in the back room, and a shopper would hand a written list to the clerk, who would then fill the order. When stores first decided to place the groceries on the store floor there were differing ideas on how to display them; some stores would place everything alphabetically, for example.

[Before self-service supermarkets there were plain old markets of the non-super variety -- basically roofed or open farmer's markets, with separate vendor stalls selling produce, fish, etc. Just about every town of any size had its Central Market at a crossroads or rail depot. There were also general stores (below) where the goods were kept on shelves behind the service counter. - Dave]

Serve MYSELF?!?

What is this, Soviet Russia?


What a bounty this must have appeared after the Depression and also with rationing still a recent memory. Rationing continued in the UK in some form into the 1950s.

How about a nice Wensleydale?

One hundred forty-five varieties of cheese?! I can't even name that many.


That's back in the days when yogurt was sour, lumpy, somewhat foreign and certainly not very popular.

Acme Markets

I remember the Acme Markets store chain had Louella butter as one of its "brands," as seen by the picture here on the bottom shelf:

Like Butter

I didn't realize my two plastic butter dishes are Louella knockoffs. However they can go in the dishwasher and look just fine. Great design.

Louella Butter

You can still buy Louella Butter dishes from eBay and antique shops. Or, get yourself a nice reproduction.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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