Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lefty, the Milkman

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

For those who are not familiar with milkhouses, they are buildings used by dairy farmers for cooling and storing milk. They are also the place where the milking equipment is washed and sanitized.

When we were kids, we used to play in the barn and outbuildings, but the milkhouse was pretty much off limits due to the need to keep things totally clean and sanitary. After all, this was the building that housed the milk which was sold to generate income.

Once a day, usually late morning, a big milk truck would pull into the driveway and stop in front of the milkhouse. The milk truck driver’s name was Lefty and, no matter where we were on the farm, we would come running when he arrived.

Lefty would run a big hose from his milk truck through the small hose port on the side of the milkhouse. Then he would go inside and hook the hose up to the milk cooler. We would wait patiently while Lefty drained the cooler contents into the tank of his milk truck.

Hanging on the wall inside the milkhouse was a big tin cup that we used to “catch” the last bit of milk that didn’t make it up the hose. And, Lefty, who had a big soft spot in his heart for us, would “accidentally” leave a bit more milk in the hose than he should have.

Then he would unhook the hose from the cooler and pour the perfectly chilled milk into our tin cup, which we would pass around so that everyone got a taste. It was especially good on a hot summer day.

I mentioned above that the milkhouse was pretty much off limits to us kids, except when we were helping with the milking. However, kids will be kids and occasionally we would take advantage of the availability of the water and sprayers that were in there to clean up the milking equipment (sorry, Dad).

One summer day when our cousins were over, we decided to “pay back” a neighbor girl who had stolen something from our sister Phyllis when she had come over to play. She and another neighbor girl came walking down our driveway toward the milkhouse.

So we ran inside and one of our cousins (you know who you are, David!) grabbed the sprayer, stuck it out the milk hose port and sprayed a cold blast of water just as the neighbor girls walked past the milkhouse. The funny thing is, they didn’t find it nearly as entertaining as we did.

Due to the decline in small family-owned dairy farms, these wonderful little buildings have begun to fall into disrepair. So we try to capture them with our camera whenever we get the chance. And we will always fondly remember Lefty, our favorite milkman.

Happy Shunpiking!

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