Mr. Sloop and the Slop Bucket

To prepare for my show in May, I’m mining my memory for details to enrich the narrative. Sometimes I come up with funny nuggets. Here’s one from my recent exploration. Tell me if you find it as funny as I do. I giggle every time I remember this.

I grew up decades ago in the 40’s and 50’s when life was so different as to be unrecognizable today to people younger than 55. One difference is that we had a butter and egg man who delivered fresh milk, butter and eggs from his farm to our neighborhood once a week. His name was Mr. Sloop. I still remember the incredibly delicious buttermilk he delivered. It was unlike any of that slimy stuff you buy in the grocery store today. He made it from the milk his cows produced. It had bits of butter the size of rice grains all through it. I could drink an entire glass without stopping and since it wasn’t water, Mrs. Butcher thought that was fine. (See my story, Half a Glass of Water.)

Women in the neighborhood saved their food scraps and leftovers for Mr. Sloop. He fed these leftovers, which everyone called ‘slop,’ to his pigs. Mrs. Butcher had a sealed container in her outside shed that was her ‘slop bucket.’ Each week after he delivered his butter and eggs Mr. Sloop collected the slop the women saved for him wherever they kept their slop bucket. Most didn’t keep it in the house proper because of the smell.

At some point, Mr. Sloop’s wife died. He kept his farm going and continued delivering his butter and eggs and collecting slop for his pigs. One difference now was that the older widows took more interest in Mr. Sloop. Slop or no slop, he was a catch. I remember him … he was personable, nice looking, fun, and he had a very successful farm. Any number of women would have liked to be his wife. And one of them on my block of South Jackson St. snagged Mr. Sloop – Mary Hahn, my best friend Delores’s grandmother.

At some point, Mr. Sloop stopped delivering butter and eggs and women stopped saving their food scraps for the slop bucket. It was a hard habit to break for some. My aunt Dorothy kept a slop bucket for leftovers, food scraps the the like until the day she died in 2008. What did she do with it since no one like Mr. Sloop wanted the slop? She did what logic dictated: when the bucket got full, she emptied it into the garbage bin.