Friday Firesmith – The Milk of Memory

I remember my kindergarten class being taken to a milk factory in Dothan Alabama. We saw the milk being poured into vats, being pasteurized, being bottled in glass bottles, and some of it was being processed into paper cartons, which was a fairly new thing back then. We had a bunch of parents with us, and all of us nodded politely and we all said “Yes sir” and “no sir” to the man leading the tour. After it was all over they gave us each a carton of chocolate milk and that was one of the best things ever, really. I’m willing to bet you my next paycheck that I likely would not have remember it except for the chocolate milk.

Flash forward in time, it seems like the two events were a lifetime apart, but we middle school students were taken to some place in Albany to see something that was in a factory, and because I was totally bored and disinterested, I cannot remember what they were building there or why we were there. There was an air hose with a nozzle on it hissing away at me, so I reached over and pressed the handle of the nozzle and the sound of the released air scared the hell out of everyone. The teacher was so angry he led me back to the bus and left me there alone. Poor Mike. Left all alone on a bus with nothing but reading material. I was reading “Cracked” magazine, and they were spoofing all the protests that were going on at the time, and one of the cartoon groups of protestors were carrying signs, “Free the Lapland Six” and for some reason, that has stuck in my memory. Four or five other people were kicked off the tour for various offenses and I wish I had thought to call ourselves “The Lapland Six”.

Leap again, into the future, I was a surveyor, or I was on a survey crew, using a bush hook to cut a line through bushes and swamps. It was incredibly hot and dirty work, and our crew chief was a total jerk. No one worked harder or knew more than he did, and all mistakes were our fault, and when he and his wife were fighting, he took it out on us. Survey equipment was just being computerized at that time, and no one really knew how to use it. While the crew chief and his assistant fought against the demons stored in the computer, I watched as our summer help dude, a clueless and klutzy nineteen year old just out of college, attempted to get into the survey van to escape the triple digit heat. The crew chief never allowed anyone in the van unless it was moving so shouting and screaming ensued.
I took a walk down the freshly cut line, two hundred feet of Viet Nam style thicket at a bottom where a new bridge would be built one day. The line had been cut in the wrong place, it seemed, and now I would shift one way or the other and start hacking away again. I sat down on the back of the stream, which was barely moving, and there in the water was a blue and white glass marble, that looked ancient. I kept it for years, and I wonder if I hadn’t found it would I have remembered that day.

What have you found, or been given that summons a memory?

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

23 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – The Milk of Memory”

  1. I vividly remember the field trips where we went to Mathis Dairy’s farm out near South Dekalb Mall (east side of Atlanta) and milked “Rosebud” – To this date I’ve never found milk that lived up to the taste and quality of Mathis; At the end of the tour we got cups of ice cream; at the time Mathis Milk used to deliver directly to our house; every Thursday Morning around 5-6 AM the truck would pull up and deliver Milk, Cream, Butter or eggs; whatever was checked off on a slip of paper my parents would leave on the front porch the night before… – I may have ‘occasionally’ snuck outside early in the morning and checked off the box for ‘chocolate milk’; then drank the entire bottle before daybreak. We won’t even discuss the perils of home delivery of those huge cans of Charles Chips potato chips…

    I’ve mentioned in some previous comments that we used to spend several weeks of our summers on my uncles farm (in Hickory Flat GA); I remember a few occasions when we herded a group of cattle right down the main highway to a slaughter house (which was about half a mile from my Uncles Farm)… – many years later… the family that ran that slaughter house was now operating as a Dairy Farm which was a popular destination for elementary school field trips; and I only discovered this development when my daughter brought home the permission slip to attend. – I immediately signed up as a volunteer chaperone; I hadn’t been to that farm in at least 15 years but they were pretty much neighbors as far as I was concerned… – My uncle was a third generation of farmers from his family; they had originally been owners of some 500 acres from a land lottery in the early 1800s when the county was first being settled; the people that ran the Dairy Farm had been there just as long and had been neighbors in a rather rural farming area for several generations. That trip brought back a lot of memories; one of the more popular stops on the ‘hayride’ was a pond where they had constructed a large pavilion where they gave out ice cream to the kids… but I couldn’t help but remember all the times we had been skinny dipping in that pond in the years before it became a destination for field trips.

  2. We took a teen trip to Italy when we lived in Germany. Whoever they DYA director was at the time we were stationed there was pretty good at it. It was a pretty nice trip. We rode over there on a big luxury bus and got to stay on the base in Italy. There was a guy there who ripped a dollar in half and we both took one half, I always think about that trip when I look at it. I can’t believe I still even have that thing, but I do. I have other trinkets and touristy type things I bought there of course, standard fare.

  3. My kindergarten class went to a Dunkin’ Donuts for a tour. It’s the one and only time I ever had a fresh, hot donut. I vaguely remember the tour of 50 years ago, but I clearly remember the hot donut! My mouth waters with the thought.

    Same kindergarten. Loose tooth. We (two other kindergartners) played dentist. Ty pulled my tooth. I carried it around in a coffee can until I lost it in the grass. I really don’t think I would remember if it hadn’t been for playing dentist. I don’t know whether the teachers weren’t paying attention, or if we found a place to practice dentistry that they couldn’t see.

    • Krispy Kreme has hot donuts at lots of their locations where the Donuts are made fresh. – They have several locations where you can watch nearly the entire line as the donuts go through the vat, the glazing stream and you can get your order pulled right off the line seconds later…

      I don’t know where Dunkin has ‘fresh’ donuts; I’ve never seen a single store where the donuts were actually made on site.

      • Krispy Kremes are so delicious when they’re warm. I haven’t had one in years because they’re so addictive. “Betcha can’t eat just one” should be their motto.

  4. Whoa, you guys are pushing my memory buttons. I don’t have any kids but Charles Chips cans I thought were the product of my Uncle Charles we rarely saw but always brought one when he visited. I’ve got half a dollar bill from meeting a lovely young lady in a bar one night, and a tooth in my jewelry box. LoL
    As a matter of fact I have a house full of treasures my brother will pile in the dumpster without a second though when I’m dead. Their only value is the smiles their backstory trigger in me. Like the wood spindle from a weaving machine in Pendleton, Oregon, or maybe the 1937 police siren from a Harley that I… uh, found. Moving on, the ratcheting lug wrench from a ’78 Corvette that I… well enough about that.

  5. 6th grade Field Trip to an art museum with a huge winding staircase. I had a walking cast on my leg. No one told me about an elevator close by…
    And the TWO Miller brewery trips in 8th and high school! Vats of hops, overpowering smell. At the end of the tour, chaperones and teachers got beer “samples” (with free refills). Root beers for us.

Comments are closed.