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September 23, 2012

Norman was home to dozens of dairies

NORMAN — The days of home milk and dairy product delivery are long gone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t think about them every now and then.

Growing up, our family — six kids in all — had to have been one of the better customers of Potts Dairy, which closed down in the mid 1980s. It operated for years on South Chautauqua Avenue.

The milkman delivered 12 quarts of raw milk, every other day, with a quart of cream thrown in on the weekends for pie topping. Earlier, our milk came from Brockhaus Dairy on West Main Street, west of what would later become Sooner Mall.

The 1950 Norman telephone directory lists four dairies in Norman: Gilt Edge, which later became Hiland Dairy, Potts Dairy, Johnson Dairy and Willow View Farm. Gilt Edge operated an ice cream parlor on Porter Avenue for many years.

Central State Hospital was probably the biggest dairy in town. Patients worked there, and they provided products for thousands of hospital patients and employees. That land is now home to Griffin Park and hundreds of soccer, baseball, softball and football players.

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The first real dairy in Norman was believed to have been operated by Sebron “Sebe” Howery. His farm was west of the railroad tracks and north of Acres Street.

The late John Womack, in his book: “Norman — An Early History,” says Howery was the first and last dairy farm that did not produce its own water. He hauled water in from his brother’s claim a half mile south. A small pond on Sebe’s claim provided a supply of surface water for the cows to drink. He sold his herd in 1899.

James Brockhaus of Noble remembers many more Norman dairies — family names like Boyd, Bowerman, Sloan, Leach, O’Hauer, Richardson, Zink, Morrow, Imhoff, Oliphant, Mapples, Johnson, Heitz and Kuhlman.

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