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Growing up in the Land of Milk and Petey 

Kathy Werner
Posted 3/18/22

Does anyone else remember milk boxes? Growing up, we had one of those galvanized covered boxes in our garage by the back door, and the milkman from Yasgur’s Dairy would deliver milk right to …

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Growing up in the Land of Milk and Petey 

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Does anyone else remember milk boxes? Growing up, we had one of those galvanized covered boxes in our garage by the back door, and the milkman from Yasgur’s Dairy would deliver milk right to our house in thick glass bottles with a wax paper wrapper that hid a paper lid with a tab to lift it off. And there was always cream on top, which I still find mystifying. How is cream lighter than milk? Anyway, that’s how we got our milk, until Dad bought a cow.

Oh, yeah, we had a cow. In a little barn behind our house. Our cow’s name was Bosco or Cocoa or something like that. I think my sister Mary named her. She was either a Jersey or a Guernsey, as I recall. And every morning and evening, my cousin Tim would come from next door to feed her, milk her, and bring in a big bucket of milk. Mom would strain the milk through an old diaper held onto another big bucket with clothespins.

So we all grew up drinking milk straight from the cow, no pasteurization. I think at one point my folks bought some kind of gizmo that was supposed to pasteurize the milk, but I don’t ever remember them using it.

At any rate, I credit that whole milk from dear old Cocoa with the fact that I keep passing my bone density tests with flying colors.

We also had a pony that my father named Herman the German, a name that wasn’t totally appreciated by my Uncle Herm. Herman was a wild pony who specialized in escaping from the electric fence that surrounded his pasture. He especially enjoyed running over to St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary (the current Job Corps) which was right through the woods behind our house. The seminarians were delighted to get out of class and chase our wild pony up and down the fields.

We had a little wagon that Herman would pull us in, and in the winter Dad would hitch him up to a stone boat and have him pull us around the yard. But my sister Laurie was the only one who could really ride him. He was not a particularly nice pony. Soon enough, Dad decided to sell Herman. Several days later he read us a story in the daily paper about a black and white pony that was seen running down the Quickway. Herman strikes again.

We had a full complement of animals growing up. There were always dogs. Our first two were English Cocker Spaniels named Soho and Sugar. They were such nice dogs to us children and were highly protective of whichever of us happened to be in the playpen at the moment. They were known to bite unsuspecting babysitters. Cave canem and all that.

We had cats here and there and a few parakeets as well. I was sobbing softly after I discovered our parakeet lying on the floor of his cage one morning. I only got hysterical after my ever-practical sister Billie suggested that we feed poor little Petey to our cousins’ cat. I think she’d seen too many Sylvester and Tweety Pie cartoons. Not to worry; I saw to it that Petey had a proper funeral.

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  • KGH

    Yasgur's milk bottles: I remember laying in bed, mostly asleep and hearing the van roll into our driveway, and the clank of the quart bottles as they were carried and placed in the milk box. In the winter you had to get them before they froze and in the summer before it curdled. Who remembers our local creameries and milk cans?

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