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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Valleroy

The Milk Store

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

With the humid July sun and the fragrance of the linden trees reaching the height of their potency, Lenna and I would walk along Thornell Road on our way to the Milk Store. We were six and eight, and the freedom of the 70’s made it possible for young children like us to wander the narrow, winding shoulder of the road without getting harassed—or worse. We were Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, adventurers that were not yet tethered to the harsh realities of life. No, we only sought the pleasure of sugar and the fulfillment of walking a long way without noticing the passing of time.

I don’t remember sweating or overheating no matter how hot the day. Perhaps this was because the thick woods arched like a cathedral along the roadside shading us most of the way. When we got back there would be no swimming pool awaiting us, no sprinkler to run through, no air-conditioned house in which to seek refuge. Back then we were desensitized to heat and humidity because it was our reality. There was no place to escape it; there was no need to escape it.

The Milk Store was an old, dilapidated house with rickety wooden steps that we shot up two at a time so that we could get to the candy counter as quickly as possible. It was even hotter inside, but we were not bothered by that. Nothing could distract us from the only thing we had on our minds: Sugar! We were there with our pennies, nickels, dimes, and the odd, extravagant quarter to buy all kinds of sugary gum and nothing else. There was Bubble Yum and those sour gumballs in the narrow cellophane packets. Despite the fact we had walked a long distance I never remember being thirsty, but always having an abundance of salivation that would triple once I started chewing. We would fill our mouths like squirrels shoving in piece after piece as the sugar waned. Sometimes we would even swallow pieces to make room for more in our sweet arsenal.

It was two miles there and two miles back, and by the time we got home, we had nothing to show for it. Our parents never checked to see what we had gotten. They never collected the extra change from us. Perhaps it was because we were so contented, unlike the kids of today, who with their ADHD sit on couches playing video games, imbibing sodas, and juices, eating power bars. Our sugar fueled our every step. It burned off as we walked under the blazing summer sun. It was only after we finished this pilgrimage that we would sit and take a well-deserved rest and read… albeit comic books.

By Catherine Valleroy

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