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Spilled Milk

I hate giving away my age so often by telling the kinds of stories about my childhood that reveal something that hasn’t been done or hasn’t been seen by one and (maybe) even two generations.

But it’s true, when I was a little girl, milk was delivered to our front door. The glass bottles, quart-sized, were filled with pasteurized milk, which meant a layer of cream was at the top of each one. We would put out the empty bottles in the morning in a “metal milk box” and the milkman would come by and make the exchange.

Since I was a latch key kid, it would be my job to pick up the milk after school and carry it to the kitchen and put it away.

I was a bit of a lazy thing. Aren’t all kids, just a little? And the last thing I wanted to do was make two trips. I was instructed to make two trips. I was encouraged to make two trips, but I still did anything I could to avoid it. That meant, at nine years old, I was carrying four quarts of milk in glass containers and whatever else my mother might have ordered from the dairy.

One day, when I was schlepping as fast as I could with an armful of milk, I just couldn’t hang on any longer. The bottles were slick and cold and heavy. What to do?

Idea: toss them on something soft!

And so, on my way to the kitchen, and yes, it may seem odd, but my mother’s bedroom was the old kitchen/dining room, so her twin bed was on the way, and that’s where I dropped four quarts of milk. Every last one of those bottles broke and milk was everywhere.

I was punished severely for that stupidity, a pounding I would never forget.

So, what did I learn? Don’t toss more than one thing on the bed at a time. And no, I did not learn to make two trips.

Pete’s Market

In today’s world, every corner has a 7-11, WaWa, or whatever. But, back then, we had small “mom and pop” stores that carried a little of everything.

I’ve been running my mind through the aisles of Pete’s Market as best I can, but mostly, there are fragments: the worn wooden floors, potato chips in the long aisle at the back, penny candy near the register, a black worn counter at the register that I could dig my fingernails into when no one was looking, a round lit clock that advertised cola of some kind, and double screen doors was at an angle to the corner of 11th and Park.

The meat counter ran along the short left side of the store but its top was way over my head which put me at eye level with red meat,huge linked sausages, and whole chickens behind glass. When my mother bought meat there, Pete was the one who cut and wrapped the pieces into dark red/brown paper and sealed them with a strip of masking tape.

The year after my father died and I was trying to get used to the latchkey routine, my brother was supposed to come home straight from school to look after, but he rarely did. Not really. On the days he would come home, he would be grumpy and plop in front of our old Philco black and white TV (my mother still had that TV when we moved her out 44 years later). Somehow, he seemed to always have a little money and he would “send” (command?) me to run up the street to Pete’s to buy his favorite snack: a bag of chips and a quart of milk. My enticement would be the promise of shared chips, but of course, the results were unpredictable in the number of chips I would actually get. After some months of this, I caught on and negotiated more firmly for a specific count. That was a flabby year.