a bakery on wheels

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yesterday morning i read a blog about bakeries in nyc and the total lack of them now a days.  it got me thinking about the old days around here in so california.

for many years the helms bakery in downtown los angeles had a fleet of delivery trucks that brought fresh baked goods right to your front door.  yeah, it’s true, from downtown all the way out east to the capital of the dreaded inland empire, san bernardino.  to points north and west way up into the san fernando valley.  they never sold anything in a store, just out of the back of their trucks.  the photos below culled by my friend, dfr, show the really old delivery trucks.  helms and the trucks were around for a long long time from 1931 up until 1969. at one point in time they were the largest employer in the city of los angeles. that in itself is an incredible fact.

though the trucks or delivery wagons i remember, as a kid, were more like a small panel truck painted in the same colors.  sadly, no photos of them could be found.  they would cruise through the neighborhood and use their distinctive whistle to let you know they were around.  plus, you stuck a sign up in the window to let them know you wanted something that day. 

it was like christmas morning when the truck pulled into the driveway.  i’d rush outside in order to be there as soon as the back door was open and the delivery man pulled out the long wooden trays packed with fresh baked goods.  the smell was just amazing.  maybe even better than being in a bakery because of the sheer novelty of it, bakery smells coming from a truck and it’s parked in your very own front yard.  a novelty that never wore itself out. 

i think by somewhere around 1962ish helms was having some financial trouble and had cut back on it’s fleet of trucks.  i don’t re-call seeing them much after that sorta date anywhere around in the inland empire, though i may be mistaken.  i think the awe inspiring deal behind the adventure just got too expensive.  however, it’s still something i will always fondly remember.  that fresh bakery smell coming out of the back of a truck, was and is, still one of life’s little pleasures tucked nicely away amongst the fried synapses of my brain and other semi faded memories.

 A Divco-Twin by the orginaly Twin Coach Company

dfr, found a photo this morning of the wooden drawers in the trucks. 3 of them were refridgerated.



2 thoughts on “a bakery on wheels

    Cheryl Crittenden Timmons said:
    February 21, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Wow! These are great photos and another great article from you, John. I also fondly remember the smell of fresh baked goodies coming from that truck. Heaven on wheels! The trucks I remember are more like the one Paul Ward posted, a panel truck with the wooden drawers…

    johnhauge responded:
    February 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

    thanks, cheryl. glad you enjoyed the read. at the time i wrote that article there weren’t any photos of the panel trucks on the internet. we were lucky to have experienced the helm’s phenomena in person.

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