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.

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