Become a Fan
By Robin Adams
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
This story is a fictionalized retelling of a story I heard from my father. One of his first jobs was as a milkman in the early 50's.
The sky was still covered with the paint strokes of night’s canvass, when the young man emerged from his house. His freshly pressed, white uniform stood out against the darkness of the morning. The cigarette that hung from his mouth illuminated the blue name patch on his shirt. The name read O’Connor. He walked away from the house and the lettering on the back of his shirt stood out. It read Foxboro Milk Supply Company. The street was deserted at the early hour of the morning. He walked for half an hour before he reached the last turn. A cigarette dangled from his lips, when he turned into the industry of the milk plant.
“Top o’the morning to ya, Patrick.” Called out the voice of Mr. Flanagan. “You’re a wee bit early this morning. We’ve a full load for ya, so you’ll hav ta wait a few minutes before the truck is ready.”
“Alright.” He crushed his cigarette on to the floor in front of the desk.
They talked for several minutes before Patrick was called to the truck. Patrick tipped his hat onto his head and started the old engine. It roared to life and the milk bottles in the wire cases rattled against each other. Pushing in the clutch, Patrick put the truck in gear and drove out to the empty streets. There were a few paved streets but most were still dirt or cobble stoned. Coming to the first group of houses, Patrick started his route. Most of the homes had a cold box on the back porch where he would leave the new bottles of milk. The empty bottles sat outside of the box. Patrick collected the old bottles and brought them back to the truck.
In the short time it took for him to bring the first delivery to the house and return, the milk had begun to separate in their bottles. The bottom was watery and the top was becoming a solid white substance. Patrick climbed back into the cab of his truck and continued on his route. It was over an hour of deliveries when Patrick arrived at the last house in town. Before continuing with the rest of his route, he leaned against the truck and lit a cigarette. Patrick looked at the brighter sky. The morning sun had risen over the horizon. The ocean wasn’t visible inland but the early morning sunlight reflected streak of beautiful colors that seemed to be reflected by the ocean off in the distance. Shaking himself from his daze, he crushed the cigarette under a shoe and started continued again.
Finished with his town deliveries, Patrick headed towards the country roads. He had been riding this route for more then a year. During that time, he had rarely seen anyone in the houses. The Andrews Sisters were singing on the radio as Patrick turned down the dirt road lined with full maple trees. The house couldn’t be seen from the road.
Patrick parked in the driveway and grabbed the two racks of milk for the house. He walked up the back steps and opened the back door. Walking into the kitchen, he headed towards the icebox. He set the milk on the counter and opened the door. As he was putting the bottles inside the door swung open and a man’s arm reached past him.
“Don’t mind me. Just getting some breakfast.”
Patrick’s eyes followed the arm as it retracted back. The man wasn’t wearing anything.
“Honey?” a female’s voice called out. “Are you coming back? The kids want orange juice.”
Patrick looked through the door behind him and he almost dropped the bottle in his hand. The women and the two children were naked. They were sitting at the dining room table to a normal morning breakfast. Patrick stared few more then a few moments. He regained his composure, finished loading the icebox, collected the empty bottles, and tipped his hat to the family as he left.
Patrick smoked all the way back to the depot. When he reached the loading docks, he walked up to the supervisor and handed him his hat. Removing his uniform, he grabbed his schoolbooks from behind the counter.
“I’m late for school. I don’t think I’ll be back. My education just leapt forward a few years and I think I need to catch up.”
Patrick walked the mile to school and entered the building as the last bell rang. He wondered what the world was coming to as he entered English class. The world held many fascinations for the young man, and it was only 1950.
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