PRIME TIME: Git along, little doggie, and other tales of the Elton Dairy

Published on Sunday, 25 June 2017 21:47
Written by Bob Montgomery

Staff Writer

Al Goodwin spent some time with Jim Cleveland recently recalling the days the latter worked for the former Elton Dairy in Bristol. It was located in the area where the new CVS is on Route 6 near North Main Street.

Jim shares a story about Gus Strelau who had a milk route:

“One morning back in the early ‘50s, peddler Gus Strelau was delivering to a Divinity Street Home, which had a grade and several steps. Most days there was a small yapping dog, which nipped at Gus’s heels. Normally the owner would bring the dog inside. This one day, the dog was alone on the porch and started nipping again.

“Seeing no one was around, Gus gave the dog a swift kick that sent him airborne and yelping. At that moment, the owner came out and said, ‘Oh, what happened?’ Gus apologized saying, ‘Oh, did I step on your tail, little doggie?

As far as Jim Cleveland goes, many folks here know of him, because of his business or the fact that he sat on the city council. Jim worked for Elton Diary between 1947-1955 and has many memories. Referred to as a “living legend” by Mr. Goodwin, Jim would go on to start his own business, Bristol Construction, afterward. Here are some of the names of those Jim recalls as working for Elton Dairy:

Paul Oehler, plant manager; Louis Oehler, bottle washer; Leodore Marion, bottler; Elbert Stone, former milk producer who weighed the milk; Gus Sonstroem, plant maintenance man; Howard Carter, jack-of-all-trades; and George Bechstedt, office worker and milk peddler.

The milk producers were:

Dwight and Lee Minor, E. Samuel Gillette and Sons, Ed Janetski, Ab Radum, Charles Gaylord, Julius Malsheske, Adolph “Tate” Behrendt, Richard Bourret, Bert Norton, Frank Pavlik, Lewis Wells from Bensted Farm where Tunxis College is today, Otis Roberts and Sons, Pete Hinman, Morris Sahlin, Adolph Schultz and Sons, Rollin Wooding and Fred Avolt.

The milk peddlers were:

Levette Griswold, Leon Webster, Larry Arnold, John Avolt, Bill Dutton, Rex Green, Les Norton, Gus Strelau, Art Burns, John Mullins, Ed Gilmore, Ralph Hiltbrand, Don Karwoski, Fred McKnight and a member from the Gamache family.

Edwin H. Elton (1882-1969)

Edwin Elton, a Bristol native, began a milk route in 1910 as a one-man venture with a horse-drawn wagon and when it got too busy for him, he opened a dairy business that eventually had 25 employees and 14 horses, before going to motorized vehicles to deliver his milk. In 1958, he sold the business to Guida-seibert of New Britain and died a year later.

Write to Bob Montgomery, in care of The Bristol Press, 188 Main St., Bristol, CT 06010. Call 860-973-1808, or email:

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General Business, General News on Sunday, 25 June 2017 21:47. Updated: Sunday, 25 June 2017 21:50.