The very last time I recall my cousin Danny (my partner in crime), and I, getting into trouble, occurred just before he left our 32nd Street home for his new life. I don’t recall that we ever attended Sill School together, so I’m guessing it was some time during my first year attending public school that the event took place. It had all of the repercussions we experienced when we tried flushing the paddle down the toilet a year or so earlier.
I was five or six years old at the time and we had a pact about not eating certain foods. Mine was “Dinty Moore Beef Stew” and “sweet potatoes.” The potatoes gagged me, and still do to this day. I do not know what triggered this phobia I have for them. Danny’s hurdle was drinking all of his milk. One night I had been forced to eat a bowl of the aforementioned stew when I wasn’t feeling so well… “You’re not leaving the table until you finish your dinner” was the usual instruction, which in itself isn’t an abnormal request by any parent. I recall feeling feverish and managed to down it somehow. I went to bed shortly after dinner and within a few minutes I rolled to the side of the bed and threw it all up. I learned then throwing up is not the greatest of experiences, especially when it makes its way out through your nose as well as your mouth. And, here it is almost seventy years later, I have never had another bowl of a Dinty Moore product of any variation.
In our little kitchen, where we generally ate our meals (at a little table by the window), was a pipe on the floor about a foot high and six inches in diameter. It sat right next to the sink under the dish drain counter top. This pipe had a domed metal cap that could be rotated horizontally with just the littlest bit of effort on our part. When our parents became frustrated with our dilly dallying with our food, sometimes a strategic move on our part, they would wander off to another room or out on the front porch leaving us with the usual, “you aren’t leaving the table until you finish this.” Once they were out of sight it was then that Dan and I made good use of the pipe. Yup, everything went down the pipe. We got away with that for a very, very long time.
It was a Saturday morning, Dad had put out our breakfast, probably a cereal of some sort, leaving Danny and I with very large glasses of milk to finish. “I don’t want to see you two outside until you finish your breakfast” he instructed. And so… we thought he was headed for the little shed out near the alley, where he normally spent his Saturdays tinkering.
Well, you know what we intended on doing don’t you? And we (of course) did it! It wasn’t a full minute before Dad stood in the kitchen doorway asking… “Did you two drink all of your milk?” Dan and I looked at each other and lied… “Yup!” We then turned to look at Dad… he was covered head to waist in what he said felt and tasted a lot like milk. It seems Dad hadn’t gone out to his shed as we thought, but instead, was under the house cleaning out the sewer pipe, just as we let loose the milk. He had a face full of it. It was not a pretty site for us or him, and besides our suffering the paddle… our little secret dump zone had been exposed forever.
My cousin Danny, my best friend and accomplice, soon thereafter began a new life. His mother had married and it was time for him to join her in her new home. Dan became Dan Brennan and with his mother and new stepfather Bob Brennan, moved to Plymouth, Michigan. His mother worked there for the Diasy Air Rifle Company. Not long after that I became the proud owner of an official Red Ryder BB Gun. It added much to my newfound cowboy persona.
Danny didn’t disappear totally, although I do recall coming home from school one day and he was gone unexpectedly. We were able to stay close for many years visiting on weekends and during our summers down on the farm in Indiana. After High School, he joined the Navy and I joined the Air Force. I still feel very close to my cousin, who I think of as a brother, even though we have lived almost a continent apart for most of our lives. I don’t get to see him as often as I would like, but when we are together we just seem to take up where we left off.
Got milk anyone?