Friday, August 29, 2008

The McAdoo Dairy of Cambridge

The following is an article written by my mother, Jean McAdoo, for the periodical: GROWING UP IN NORTH CAMBRIDGE.

My husband Bill’s father started the “Green Acres Farm” Dairy on Clay Street in Cambridge which was known to most as The McAdoo Milk Company. They are fondly remembered as the prominent dairy throughout Cambridge, Belmont, Arlington and Somerville. Many recall the white milk trucks with the logo of the baby in a diaper sitting with a milk bottle. It was my husband who posed, as an infant, for the picture used to make the logo. A rendition of the logo is pictured.

A welcome mat designed after the dairy logo was made by Bill's brother Albert for our house in Maine.

Bill began his first delivery tours before he had even started school, wrapped in a fur blanket to keep him warm on the horse and pung used at the time to deliver. Of course at this point he did not go very often or far. By the time he was five he had graduated to a different role. Far too young to play on the baseball team his father sponsored in the 1930s (see photo) he was old enough,however, to serve as the bat boy. That’s Bill sitting in the front row with the catcher’s equipment, posing for the team picture. His father is pictured standing on the right in the photo. I remember that his Grandfather John and his brother Warren loved taking care of the horses used for deliveries and stabled at the old brick yards. One of them was named Prince and that was Warren’s favorite.

The McAdoo Dairy sponsored baseball team. Bill is the young bat boy pictured in the center. His father, William senior stands on the right.

The family would drive the tanker trucks up into the hills of Vermont to collect the milk. It would then be pasteurized at the Clay Street facility. At age 14 Bill was strapping chains on the tires of the trucks and driving them himself down the snowy, icy hills on those cold mornings. Later, the facility would be moved to Rindge Avenue in North Cambridge. His brothers Paul, Warren, Albert and Donald also joined in the work but it was only Bill and Paul who did the driving. William Senior’s brother Bob worked at the dairy for a while and his father, John McAdoo, was very involved. He would climb inside the tankers each night to disinfect them and continued to work doing this until he was 85 years old.

All during the Depression they delivered fresh milk, butter, eggs and cream to hundreds of customers. Many children didn’t even know what The Depression was as everyone was in the same boat. When snow storms forced school closings all the milk delivered to my school, The Haggerty School, would be diverted to hospitals and nursing homes in the area. Nothing was ever wasted and everyone thought of one another. The business was very successful. They had six extensive delivery routes. The picture below is the last surviving milk bottle left from the dairy (that we are aware of). It was this exact bottle that would arrive at homes early each morning with fresh milk or cream.

Long before any TV Shows the McAdoo family owned Green Acres.

Bill attended St. Mary’s High School in Waltham. In addition to all his family business work he was awarded, upon graduation, a full four year scholarship to New York University. It was 1944, the war was on and feeling the call of duty Bill passed up the scholarship to join the armed forces. He was too young, legally, for conscription so his father met him at the recruiting offices and signed the paperwork for him.

After the war ended Bill landed safely at home on a Sunday at 4:00 PM having traveled clear across the country from Washington State. He had served in the Pacific. Upon arrival he was reminded by his father that he would be expected to report to work at the dairy the next morning at 5:00 AM. He worked seven days a week, rising early in the morning no matter what the weather. There was never any question he would be there. No wonder they call it the greatest generation.

The lone surviving milk bottle from the Wm. A. McAdoo Dairy, Green Acres Farm. Home-made pastries are served on the back porch of our Wells, Maine home.

I grew up off Holworthy Street and we were married in September of 1949. Bill left the dairy shortly after that to attend Boston College full time as he worked nights as a clerk for the F.B.I. office in Post Office Square. After graduation he was recruited by the F.B.I. and sent to Quantico, Virginia for training. After working all over the country we returned to Cambridge with two children. Bill began attending law school and before long we had two more children.

Ironically, Bills first Law Office was located in North Cambridge. It was situated on the island that is now the MBTA station at Porter Square. Where the shingle once hang for William A. McAdoo, Jr. and William Corkery, Attorneys At Law, now stands the forty foot stainless steel mobile by the artist Shingu. It was Bill’s law office that first defined that space.

The Green Acres dairy bottle sits on our breakfast table at the family home in Wells, Maine.

After WWII the dairy slowly went downhill. The scientists in the war effort not only invented the bomb and plastics but they also refined the use of refrigeration to help stabilize the blood supplies for all those wounded soldiers. Soon people were trading in their ice boxes for electric refrigerators. Shortly new food stores known as “Supermarkets” began to appear. People no longer needed the milkman, the butcher or the local baker. They could get everything at one store now. Paul continued to try and hold the business together but eventually sold it to Blue Ribbon Dairy of Bedford. In turn, they sold out to what is known today as The H. P. Hood Company.

We were married for fifty eight years and we lost Bill in 2007. He was eighty years old. The times are tough now but, still, no one works seven days a week. And with the high standards of living we have with plasma tvs, the internet and cell phones we don’t have Green Acres Farm fresh milk: “dacro sealed for your protection”.

McAdoo Dairy bottle detail.


  1. Bills father is my Great Grandfather. His brother Paul had a daughter named Linda who is my mother.

    1. Ryan -
      That's amazing! I actually vaguely remember your Mom. When I was very young I went to her wedding. My Dad walked her down the aisle as your Grandfather had just passed away. I was in awe at how glamorous she was. Thanks for commenting.

    2. My dad had actually mentioned Bill walking her down the aisle. He's the one that told me about your blog.

  2. Do you have a bottle top that goes with your last remaining milk bottle?