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HOME DELIVERY <br> A FAMILY-OWNED <br> MILK OPERATION <br> STILL WORKS THE <br> OLD-FASHIONED WAY

"Whatever I do, I want to do it the best way I can," said Robert E. Hoover II, manager of one of the few remaining dairies in the state that bottles and delivers milk.

As he said those words, he was leaning over a large metal milk can, stirring in thick chocolate syrup with an oversized ladle. That technique would raise eyebrows on many dairies, where a less expensive, but less tasty, powdered chocolate mix is used, he said.

Hoover's Dairy, at 6030 Hoover Road, Sanborn, employs 10 people. Eight represent four generations of the family. Two others, Leonard Beutel and Larry Steingasser, are longtime employees. The most senior worker in the family enterprise is grandfather Eugene Hoover, who still helps out at 76.

Besides bottling the milk -- whole, 2 percent, skim, chocolate, and at this time of year, eggnog -- in quart glass bottles, the Hoovers also deliver to about 1,500 customers.

"We also have a lot of people come here to the dairy," said Hoover, where they can see the freshly filled bottles come off the assembly line on Wednesdays and Fridays.

"I like the glass. I think it tastes a lot better," Hoover said.

The bottle itself has an old-fashioned look. An inspirational message on the side says, "Attend CHURCH for health of mind. Drink MILK for health of body."

The Hoover family's roots go back seven generations on the farm. Their ancestors, who were Mennonites, emigrated from Switzerland to Lancaster, Pa., then to Yates, N.Y., and finally to Sanborn in the 1820s.

The Hoover family milked its own cows from 1920 until 1984, when government regulations made it more efficient to purchase milk from other dairies, Hoover said. They still raise cattle -- about 100 head of dairy replacements, he said -- and "are trying to get back into doing our own milk."

The dairy's eight trucks are on the road every day, delivering to Cambria, Lewiston, Lockport, Town of Niagara, North Tonawanda, Pendleton, Sanborn, Wheatfield and Youngstown.

The dairy is open until 5 p.m. on weekdays and until 1 p.m. on Saturdays.