Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Alphabet of Daily Life - M

M is for Milk.

Yes, an odd (mundane) choice of topics, I know, but it's very meaningful in my life.

I was 8 years old, and we were living in Manitou Springs, Colorado. All nine of us kids were staying temporarily in rundown public housing with my mother, during the harshest part of winter. We were just up the hill from Manitou Springs Elementary School, while my father was down the hill living in the Truck, parked in a campground. The 3 big boys were not always home with us, though, as they had been working and staying on a nearby ranch for a few months.

We were very poor then, and had very little money for anything. Real milk was one luxury we never had (although we always had powdered milk - yuk!). I remember once being at the elementary school early one morning, before the other kids had arrived. One of my little sisters was with me. We had a few coins in our pockets and were goofing around in one of the bathrooms. For whatever reason, I put one of the coins, a nickel, into my mouth. I think I liked its metallic tang on my tongue. Before I realized what was happening, the nickel had gone down my throat. I could feel it lodged in my esophagus trying to work it's way down to my stomach. It hurt! My sister and I went to find a teacher - I don't know what we thought the teacher could do for us, but we thought it was the best tactic.

The teacher was naturally alarmed, but there really wasn't much she could do; I wasn't in any type of actual distress other than discomfort. So, her solution was to take us down to the cafeteria and request a (FREE!) carton of cold milk and a warm roll from one of the cooks so she could give it to me to help move the nickel down my throat. Wow, this was the type of food we never had - we didn't have the money to buy food from the cafeteria. The teacher had us sit down at one of the long communal tables in the dim empty dining hall and told me to finish both food items. She definitely didn't have to tell me twice! I ate every bit of that soft warm roll, following bites of it with swigs of cold creamy milk. My sister looked longingly at it, but I didn't wan to share my bounty, and never gave her any. She asked me what it tasted like and I described it to her, but I didn't let her try it, not even just a little bit. I still feel so badly about that greed and denial toward my hungry little sister.

At our house on the hill, when the boys would come to visit us after working on the ranch, they were allowed to bring large multi-gallon jugs of milk home (the ranch was a local milk supplier). The clear plastic containers sat on a shelf in the refrigerator of the rented house, and had a spigot that milk could be poured from into a cup. This meant we could go over to the fridge any time we wanted and have all of the cold creamy rich milk we wanted - any time and as much as we wanted. My God, that was the life.

No comments:


LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs