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.