My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

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fresno103
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:53 am

My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby fresno103 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:44 am

I have no doubt that the young Fresno kids of today would be surprised to learn that a full scale dairy farm used to exist along Cedar Street just down from Ashlan. Yet to our family it was simply the place we went to buy milk. However, we didn’t always go to Harpain’s. At first we, like most everyone else of moderate means, had milk delivered every morning by the Milkman. If I was sleeping lightly in the morning I sometimes would hear the sound of a metal clank on the doorstep at approximately 5 am. It was the large wire carrier with a wooden handle that held half gallons of ice cold milk.

Eventually Mom decided it was too expense to have milk delivered because we could just drive the short distance to the local dairy farm and pick it up ourselves. Walt Harpain had operated his dairy long before the first housing track went in at Cedar and Ashlan. It was truly located in the middle of vast stretches of farm lands. In the late 1950’s that all changed and houses appeared all around the once solitary dairy farm and the local traffic to buy milk must of increased exponentially.

I got my Driver’s License when I was 16 years old and the main reason my parents said it was OK, was to drive to Harpain’s Dairy to get the family milk. Turning off of Cedar got you on to the farm’s long access road and you drove right down the middle of seemingly endless fields of Alfalfa on both sides of the road. Finally the road curved sharply to the right and I would arrive at a very small parking lot that had what looked like a roadside fruit stand. The counter was open to the air and there was usually a line of people waiting to buy milk and other dairy products. There were always 3 or 4 young guys busily working the counter whose job was to grab milk bottles from the glass front refrigerators located directly behind them. It was a small working area but it seemed to work efficiently. I remember they always wore white pants with checkered red or blue shirts. We had our own metal carrier but dozens of them hung from the wood beam above just in case you forgot yours. All my friends raved about the chocolate milk – but my personal fav was the fruit punch!

I also remember many years of Harpain’s when I just tagged along with my Mom before I learned to drive. Once we arrived at the parking lot, I was off to investigate the farm so I wouldn’t be bored waiting in line. My first stop would be to the milking shed to see if they had the Holsteins hooked up to the automatic milkers. Sometimes it was empty and sometimes you got lucky and it was crammed full of cows! The milkman was so used to visitors he would barely look up at you when you poked your head in.

Then it was off to check out the antique buggies housed in kind of a car port, I only remember the roof but no sides. They all had black leather seats. Next, I would head for the corrals that had various farm animals and occasionally I would see the peacock with its’ feathers in full display. A very small irrigation ditch ran back to the back part of the farm and it was there that I encountered the large Geese roaming freely. The first dozen times I always ran when they started to charge me. As I got older I became more brave and one time I stood my ground. Well don’t ya know that Goose bite the crap out of my leg! It really hurt and from then on, I always avoided the back part. I moved from Fresno before Harpain’s closed. It seems to me that North Fresno just wouldn’t feel like home without the Harpain’s Dairy Farm.
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Lost Fresno
Site Admin
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:08 am

Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby Lost Fresno » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:26 pm

Some Harpain photos to add to our growing collection. Looks like a paper cap from the Chocolate Milk eveybody loved so much. Also a wire carrier of the type they used.
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carry_rack.jpg (63.72 KiB) Viewed 7047 times

Lost Fresno
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Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:08 am

Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby Lost Fresno » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:43 pm

I drove by the old entrance to Harpain's Dairy the other day and this is what I saw. If you're thinking that this is nothing like what the old alfalfa fields looked like when you last saw it, that's exactly what I was thinking!
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38brown
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:50 am

Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby 38brown » Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:50 am

This is really nice to see these old photos of Harpain's. I used to live near the old valley childrens at millbrook and clinton. My mom would drive me there to get a push up ice cream. We would also pet some of the goats and sheep. I can't remember when it closed down, but it might have been around 1980 or so. I makes me sad that all these old neat places are gone forever. This is a great forum, thanks.
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harpains dairy fresno.jpg (22.39 KiB) Viewed 6577 times

RAR
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:54 pm

Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby RAR » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:15 pm

Lost Fresno captured Harpain's well. We were frequent customers all during the 1950s and into the early 1960s until we moved across town. When I was 12, I lived just west across Cedar. The neighborhood kids would ride our bikes over to Harpain's after school and in the summer. Their chocolate milk was the greatest!
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hapains cows.jpg
Click to Enlarge

organistspouse
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:12 am

Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby organistspouse » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:12 pm

I, too, tagged along with mom when she purchased our milk at Harpain's. I don't remember much about the dairy, but I remember their products were superior.
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harpains-bottles.jpg (42.76 KiB) Viewed 6589 times

Lost Fresno
Site Admin
Posts: 169
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Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby Lost Fresno » Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:59 am

I saw this photo on Flicker and the poster wondering if this was the rooster that stood at the entrance of the Harpain Petting Zoo but I have no memory of it.
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harpains petting zoo rooster.jpg

bugherder

Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby bugherder » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:27 pm

My family moved to Fresno in 1971 or so. For awhile we lived near Radio Park. My dad would take us to Harpain's to get chocolate milk and other stuff. I remember the giant rooster. It seemed a lot bigger than this one, but I was a lot smaller, and maybe it was mounted on top of something. When I grew up, for awhile I tested dairy products in a lab. There were a few independent dairy bottlers left by that time, in the late 80's, early 90's, but I think they're all gone now. Belmont Farms might have been the last one. I loved Harpain's, even though I don't even remember what all I loved about it. I think I remember being able to pet the livestock. You can still sometimes find the old bottles at Fresno Ag Hardware.
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Fresno Bee - Oct. 9, 1963 / Click to Enlarge

sjvalleydave
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:55 pm

Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby sjvalleydave » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:17 pm

I think Belmont Farms was the last! Great chocolate milk...@38brown...Valley Childrens was at Millbrook and Shields, not Clinton...

Lost Fresno
Site Admin
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:08 am

Re: My Memories of Harpain’s Dairy

Postby Lost Fresno » Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:32 am

Long live the memory of Harpain's Dairy (got our milk there every week back in the day)
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