Having a bit of an obsession with nostalgia for the 1940s and 1950s the music from that era is also a passion of mine. The songs of the WWII era capture an America that no longer exists. There are references to people, places, and things that have all passed away from this Earth. Case in point, the 1943 song, “Milkman, Keep Those Those Bottles Quiet!”
The song was first recorded by Ella Mae Morse in 1943 and tells the story of “Rosie the Riveter” who works the swing-shift making tanks and bombers for the war effort, but she can’t get to sleep because the milkman is making so much noise delivering bottles of milk.
Been knocking out a fast tank, all day Working on a bomber, okay Boy you blast my wig with those clinks And I got to catch my forty winks So milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet
The song first makes reference to someone who no longer exists: the milkman. In 2020 America bottles of milk are no longer delivered door to door as they were in the 1940s. And the song is sung in first-person by a “Rosie the Riveter” who, like the milkman, no longer exists. Yes, there are women who still work in factories connected to defense working weapon systems for the US. But WWII ended in 1945 and by 1947 “Rosie” had put away her tools, left her job at the bomber factory, and returned home to change diapers and raise babies with her newly returned husband from the war.
I wanna give my all if I’m gonna give it
But I gotta get my shuteye if I’m gonna rivet
So bail out, bud, with that milk barrage
Cause it’s unpatriotic, it’s sabotage
It’s funny, but to most people these days, the very concept of something your neighbor (milkman) doing something to keep you awake as “unpatriotic” or “sabotage” is alien and incomprehensible to most Americans today. That is just how different the new America is from the old America that no longer exists.
In my view, something very special about who we were has been lost to time. There is no way to go back to the personal service of the milkman, or the patriotic sacrifice of “Rosie the Riveter.” We are no longer those people.
Perhaps that is why I enjoy the music from the 1940s and 1950s so much. It was an innocent America back then, and America that valued wholesomeness and virtue. That America, now only lives in old black and white photos and the music of Ella Mae Morse, Dinah Shore, Doris Day and Glen Miller.