One Lucky Kid

One Lucky Kid

By Donald L. Hindal

–As told to Joanne Klassen

 I can still close my eyes and taste the smooth, cold chocolate milk as if I’d just taken a hearty swig. I’m 81 today, but I was barely a teenager when that icy cold treat made me feel like one lucky kid.

After we finished our west side milk route, my buddy Emory Campbell and I would each reach behind us on Mr. Fisher’s big old International Harvester truck and help ourselves to our first reward: our own quart bottles of chocolate milk.

Freezing in the winter, singing in the spring, sweltering in the summer and whistling in the fall–for two years, starting when we were thirteen. Mr. Fisher would pull up at 4 a.m. and we’d hop on, one on each side, hanging on to the back of his blue milk truck.

We’d help Mr. Fisher deliver bottles of milk and pick up the empties, sometimes with money frozen inside. We’d travel first along the west side, then the south side of Des Moines. At 6:00 a.m. we’d be back home in time to grab a bite to eat and get ready for school. On Saturdays I got to drive Mr. Fisher’s car for Mrs. Fisher when she collected the milk money from customers.

The pay? Chocolate milk and fifty cents each at the end of a shift; a princely sum in 1935 when jobs were mighty hard to come by. With ten kids in the family and Pop on relief, there was no question where the money I earned was headed. I handed my pay directly to Mom and never minded.

How many guys had the pleasure of popping the paper tab off a glass bottle and drinking their own quart of chocolate milk every single morning? As I said, I considered myself one lucky kid.


Behind the Cookstove

A Peek Behind the Cook Stove

By Peggy Hindal

 On a chilly day, if you were looking for my younger sister Mary or me, in our home in rural Iowa, a good place to look was behind the wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen.

In the cozy warmth and shelter of the big black stove we worked on puzzles together, drew pictures, played dominoes, checkers, or Old Maid, hour after contented hour

Here we’d come to dress on cold mornings. Here we’d spread a blanket on the worn linoleum and create a magical kingdom for just the two of us.  Here we’d whisper our secrets and dreams.

I remember vividly when I was seven and then again at ten, when I was sick with Rheumatic Fever. Mother even had to hold the spoon to feed me.  A cot was placed behind the stove.  Mother kept a close eye as she bustled around our big country home, but it was the boys she asked to move my cot closer or further from the stove.  They did all the heaviest work..

Mother needed the help of my two older brothers when our father was away at his job as a conductor on the Rock Island Railway. I can still hear her call out, “George, you help Charles shovel a path to the wood box before school. I’m going to need a heap of wood today, it’s nearly zero.”

Sometimes, after bath time, Mary and I would curl up with our books behind the stove and drift off to sleep. How sweet it was when Father was home and scooped us up and carried us up to bed.

When my daughter asked me about our kitchen when I was growing up, I really couldn’t recall anything, it was too far back. But as I began to describe the wood-burning cook stove, so different than any she’d seen, a flood-gate lifted and memories poured forth as clearly as if I were there again today.  It’s surprising to discover the details that unravel from a single everyday object.

The space behind the stove, a perfect private play room for children when I was growing up, lives on today only in the realm of fading memories.

–As told to Joanne Klassen by my mother, Peggy Hindal 2016