Lyle and Sandra Crowson have been named the 2017 Wykoff Fall Fest grand parade marshals.
Lyle and Sandra Crowson have been named the 2017 Wykoff Fall Fest grand parade marshals.

Lyle and Sandra Crowson have been named the 2017 Wykoff Fall Fest grand parade marshals, and their well-known trucks are the answer to the age-old question, “Got milk?” because they were always seen traveling the highways between the Wykoff-Spring Valley area and the Twin Cities and reaches beyond. 

Lyle started in 1958 hauling canned milk in Wykoff. In 1961 after he got out of the service, he and Sandra got married, found the place they call home and went into the milk hauling business all in a matter of just a few years’ time.  They bought their home in September 1961, then bought a milk truck and a car, recalled Sandra, adding “my dad didn’t think we’d make it.”

None of it would have happened if Lyle hadn’t been born alongside his twin brother three miles out of Wykoff. He went to country school for eight years and came to Wykoff his freshman year. 

“I thought I was a farmer until I got out of the Navy.  I was in the Navy for two years. I was drafted, and my twin went in with me,” he said. “When I got out of the service, my dad said that the farm wasn’t big enough for both of us, and so I started at the Preston creamery for about a year, then I started at the creamery in Wykoff.” 

He and Sandra invested in their canned milk haulers first after getting married, then determined in 1964 that it was time to leave the cans at the creamery. He had two can trucks, he explained, but in 1964 a lot of farmers were going to bulk. In 1967, he bought out Elmer Schmidt’s trucking.  He hauled to Spring Valley in 1990, and then he was sent to Pine Island when Land o’ Lakes closed in Spring Valley, then it was up to Zumbrota and then to Woodbury, South St. Paul, and then out to Melrose near Alexandria.  He quit hauling in 2000, but in 2010, they bought a semi, and in 2014 they bought their second semi. 

The girl Lyle married was born in Wykoff and grew up south of town on County Road 12.  She had a sister and three brothers.  Her father was a farmer, too.  She went to country school and to St. Johns, and graduated from Wykoff in 1961 before she and Lyle married that same year.  He was in and out of the service while she was still in high school, where she was a cheerleader in Wykoff. 

“When I was a senior in high school, he gave me a ring on my graduation night.  We got married in September of the same year, and we bought this place and fixed it up, added on a lot,” she said.

They have three children – Doug was born in 1963, Keith was born in 1967, and Jan was born in 1968. 

“Doug was older, but having two babies within a year apart was like having twins…I didn’t think I’d make it through those two,” said Sandra. “And Doug was a reader, a bookworm, and Keith was in football, basketball, and Jan was homecoming queen, Valentine’s queen and a cheerleader, too.  We have 10 grandchildren and one new great-granddaughter.

Keith bought the business last September, but he hauled for his parents for about 27 years before that.

Generally, the Crowson’s schedule revolved around cows, even if they didn’t have their own.  Lyle would have to plan to leave for morning milking rounds at 2 a.m. to be on the road in time to fill his bulk truck at area farms, then repeat in the evening if there was nobody to take the route.  Over the course of the years, they employed numerous faithful drivers, including Keith Raaen, Bob Voeltz and Loren Brandt. 

“The milk route was all we knew for 60 years,” said Sandra. “We used to dance and go out a lot, but if the sitter couldn’t make it or the route driver was sick and couldn’t find a substitute, then Lyle would have to go out.  He hauled milk for 59 years and retired in 2000.  All our grandkids are grown up and getting married, and we’re so excited about our new great-granddaughter.” 

Sandra volunteers in town at St. Johns Lutheran Church, where the couple belongs, whenever needed and Lyle has lent a hand with the church’s food shelf. 

“Lyle goes uptown every morning for coffee and breakfast, and I volunteer at church whenever they need a cake or something,” explained Sandra. “He has been a good neighbor…helping people, and he’s part of the veterans’ marches and helped with the veterans’ memorial park in Wykoff.” 

Lyle commented that retirement means not minding the cows’ timing…that it’s been udderly pleasant to be home every day.  “I keep the weeds down.  We do a lot of feeding the birds,” he said.