Categorized | The Past

Stealing the Milk Money


Can you imagine not being able to pick up a jug of milk simply by stopping at the grocery store? When you lived in the 1960’s and earlier, milk came by way of the milkman. He brought it to town with him in glass bottles. After he left the full bottles and the owner had made use of the milk, the bottles would be cleaned and put back on the porch. Daily he would park a bottle or two by your door, depending on how much money you left in these cleaned bottles.

People all did this “on their honour”, and it was a good system. 

Sadly…regrettably, I became part of a bad trend; one where people want something for nothing, and where you can’t leave a nickel laying around for fear of it disappearing. It wasn’t exactly my idea to steal the milk money, but I still went along with it, so I was as guilty as I could be. I’d been inspired by a cohort to do the dirty deed. I was quite young and naïve. It never occurred to me that my ‘friend’ didn’t volunteer to assist me in any way. I guess he was happy to just be the mastermind. Our devious intention was to use it to buy all the tempting candy of our childhood dreams. I dutifully set out to fill our plans.

candies-and-pop

 This was the first time I’d stolen anything. My heart was pounding a mile a second as I approached the neighbour’s house. Every possible flaw in my plan swam before my eyes. What if someone was home, I was seen, or the money didn’t come out…but it went well. I then hurried back to our rendezvous spot as fast as my short legs could muster. My accomplice decided to look after the bootie, and took it home with him.

I was only a block from home, so I carried on in that direction. My conscience was working overtime of course, but logic told me that nobody would ever know. It was ok…yes, fine, I kept assuring myself. Then I heard my mom calling me. I couldn’t think of a single reason why she would be calling me. It wasn’t supper time yet. She never called me that early. Why was I so worried anyway, it couldn’t be anything to do with what had just happened, right? Worry crowded out everything in my head. My feet drug slowly along, like there were great weights tied to them. I wondered how long I could put off going home.  My body felt unwilling to obey my logic’s call to duty. She called again. I knew I had to go, but felt frozen in space. I tried to read the intonations in her voice. I thought “she couldn’t know – it was too soon!” “Yes, for sure it was too soon”. I finally convinced my limbs to co-operate and went to meet her inside the doorway.

The words from her mouth said “The neighbour says that her son has some stolen money and he swares YOU stole it”. Fear was what you felt when there was a big hand, a belt, or a big spoon waiting to meet your bare backside. Disgraced was what you felt when you had disappointed your mom. The discipline and embarrassment were ‘just’ in this case. I’d been taught the way a child should live in order to avoid that consequence. It all became clear to me at that point. There was no rug big enough to hide my shame under. I resigned myself to the fate of the lickin’ in store.

The lickin’ didn’t happen. I wished afterward it had. It would have been an easier fate. I didn’t know there was a tougher discipline than a lickin’- far tougher. It was repentance, and restitution. It was going back to the lady I had stolen the money from, ringing her doorbell and waiting for the moment I had to lay bare all that shame. I felt that I just couldn’t do it. The thought of facing her was so awful! The door bell rang because I made my finger do it. “Oh…to die now”, I thought. No one answered. What now? I didn’t feel like coming back again for another round later.

The milk bottles still sat empty on the porch. If I didn’t put the money back in, she wouldn’t have any milk when she came home. People’s babies relied on this milk. I’m sure my mother must have enlightened me to those facts. I decided to put the cash back where I had taken it from, and slipped away like greased lightning.

Never, never again, did I want to be in that predicament. Never.

Money in Antique Milk Bottles

 

 

 

 

 

It takes relentless and wise parents to raise a child. Without that, milk money can’t be left on porches – so to speak.

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