Thursday, May 27, 2010

Got Milk? Shhhh!

Town Meeting last night gave Brookline police new powers to control "loud and unruly gatherings," with a measure aimed mostly at parties involving alcohol-fueled college students in rental housing in North Brookline. The new bylaw passed 183-3, capping the efforts of a group of North Brookline residents and their supporters calling themselves "Sleepless in Brookline."

A little over a hundred years ago, bottled beverages were at the center of another effort to curtail noise in Brookline.  But the liquid culprit on that occasion was not alcohol, but. . .

 . . . Milk.

Cartoon: The Milkman of Noiseless Town

A group of citizens -- "the early-morning-sleep-loving fraternity" the Boston Daily Globe called them -- stated their objections to "the rattling of milk wagons over the cobblestones, the shouting from one to another of the milkmen, and the banging of back doors and the unnecessary clanging of milk bottles" (among other nuisances).

On August 1, 1904, the Board of Health sent letters to every milk dealer who made deliveries in town, asking each

to carefully inspect and, if necessary, alter his wagons with reference to preventing rattling and other loud noise, and also to instruct the drivers to drive slowly when near dwelling houses, to avoid cobblestone gutters, to handle the cans and bottles quietly, to refrain from shouting, and in all other ways to do their work without unnecessary noise.

Selectman also heard concerns about the noisy gears of streetcars, the horns of automobiles, and the barking of dogs.  (Dog owners were told to keep their dogs from barking in the early morning which [said the Globe] "will leave the rooster the sole time-honored right to express his sentiments at such a time."

The newspaper found all the commotion about noise fairly amusing.  The story ("Noise crusade begun by prominent men of Brookline. Milkmen requested not to disturb sleepers") ran on the front page of the August 5th edition with a lightly mocking cartoon ("Brookline, The Silent Suburb") at the top.  (Click on the page below for a larger view.)

Boston Globe Front Page, August 5, 1904

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