Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Milk Check

This Blog is primarily to record some of the experiences and observations of my life for the potential benefit of my kids, grandchildren and the people who I think might be interested. Due to that, there is little of significance, although my sometimes pontificating may indicate that I pretend otherwise.

The gross payment for the milk produced was delivered every two weeks, so we were more like factory workers than farmers in that regard. My dad kept books like most farmers of the day; what he owned was in the left pocket of his bib overalls and what he owed was in the right pocket. Not much else mattered.

There was one bank account which meant that my mother had no resources for “hiding” expenses and that created for her a dilemma one Christmas. So, she “appropriated” one of the milk checks. It didn’t get to the bank, she delivered it to John, the local furniture retailer and mortician—furniture on the main floor, viewing upstairs, bodies in the basement.

The word “milk” was pronounced differently at home. Not as noticeable as our pronunciation of “creek” which was definitely “crick,” but not like standard, talking-head way of saying it. Came out more like “melk.”

Wallie noticed that the “melk check” was missing, but chalked it up to some administrative miscue at the dairy and decided to figure it out later. The check was swapped for his Christmas gift, a recliner chair. This was probably in the late 1950’s and I have no idea what that chair sold for, but it struck me the other day that the production of our capital (say, 60 cows, barns, feed, vet services, etc) and our labor (at least two men, 3 hours minimum per day, 7 days per week for two weeks) was traded for a chair. We didn’t know how poor we were and how little we were paid for our efforts.

As little as it was, it kept us on the farm. Every March 1, the traditional day for selling farm land and for the rent to begin, our neighbors would sell out and leave for California where they could buy a chair for less than two weeks of work.

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