Old Stories

A little background information: My grandparents both grew up in New York. My grandpa grew up on a dairy farm.


Grandpa:  Well, going down to the creamery every morning, we always stopped at the newspaper store and got a newspaper. 
Grandma: In the station wagon.
Grandpa: [describing a station wagon] It was made kind of like a SUV except it was wooden. We stopped at this place to get the newspaper and on the way there [the creamery] I got the funnies out and I was reading the funnies. And Ronny was driving and we had seven 40 quart cans of milk in the back of the truck.
Leigha: That’s a lot of milk! Ten gallons in a can. Isn’t that heavy?
Grandpa: Yeah. So here we are going down the road and I wasn’t paying attention to Ronny and he wasn’t paying attention to the road ‘cause I guess he was reading the funnies with me and he side-swiped a telephone pole.
Leigha: Oh, great.
Ben: Ha! Wow.
Grandpa: Well he started from the front fender and went right down the side of the truck, took off the door handles on that [right] side, and smoothed out the back fender and when we did that, all the milk cans slid, tipped over, and all the milk came right up over our heads. And we was covered with milk. Only two cans didn’t spill ‘cause the top was driven on so hard that they wouldn’t come off. So we got the rest of ‘em all straightened up and drove the rest of the way to the creamery and take ‘em off and we were coming back home to the thing and the milk house was a ways from the barn. So we come up the hill coming into the farm and on the front of the milk house there was a porch like, you know? and of course this [left] side of the car wasn’t bad but that side there was some bad stuff and we was just driving around the corner when my father hollered, “Where you kids been? To hell and back?” And Ronny said, “No, but we should have went there.” And we told him what happened. [laughing] Oh, man, that was a bad day. We wasted a lot of milk. You know how much milk was? We sold the milk for four and a half cents a quart.
Leigha: That’s not very much. It goes for a lot more now.
Ben: Half a cent? How do you do half a cent?
Grandpa: If it was two quarts it would be nine cents.
Leigha: But what if they bought an odd number of quarts? Did anyone buy an odd number of quarts?
Grandpa: Well, we’re talking about the creamery we sold a lot at once.

Grandpa: Do you remember Bruce Vanloom? He come from Pearl River. 
Grandma: Vanloom?
Grandpa:Yeah. You know were old Pearl River High School was?
Grandma: Yeah.
Grandpa: He lived just down the street from that. Well, he was one of Harriet’s beaus. And this guy was tall.
Leigha: Like Isaac tall?
Grandpa: Yeah, like Isaac tall. And my father couldn’t stand him so we’d take and stick him in the trunk of the car and we’d go pick up Harriet and…
Leigha: I’ll bet he fit very well.
Grandpa: [Laughs] Yeah. Well the trunks in the old cars were big. And soon as we got far enough away we’d stop and let him out. We used to go to drive ins.
Grandma: I don’t know if they know what the drive ins are.
Grandpa: You know what a drive in movie is?
Leigha and Ben: Yeah.
Grandpa: [Laughing] Well, we’d go tot he drive in and about four of us would get into the trunk of the car so we wouldn’t have to pay for going to the drive in.
Leigha: All four of you fit in the trunk? Old cars must have had really big trunks.
Grandma: They did.
Grandpa:[Still laughing] Yeah.

Grandpa: One time we was with Bruce Vanloom and Harriet, Ronny, Freddie, and myself and we was going to go pick some apples in this apple orchard. And they was saying, “All you have to do is go up this little dirt road, over the bridge, and we will be in the back part of the apple orchard so we could pick apples. Now mind you, we couldn’t drive up there with the lights on because the guy will see us going up there to pick his apples, you know?
Leigha: Wait. So who’s apple orchard was it?
Grandpa: Another farmer’s.
Leigha: Oh, just some other farmer. Let’s just go pick some of his apples.
Grandpa: Well, you know…
Grandma: Everybody shared back then.
Leigha: [Laughs] Or got stolen from.
Grandpa: So here we are going up this dirt road and they said, “Well, we don’t know where the bridge is so we better let someone walk ahead of us and find out where the bridge is so we don’t run off the bridge. And Bruce says, “I’ll do it. I’ll get out.” Well, he steps out of the car and steps off and we’re sitting there on the bridge and he fell right off. 
[Everyone laughs]
Grandpa: We didn’t know we was on the bridge.
Grandma: Poor Bruce.
Leigha: How far was it down?
Grandpa: Oh, probably only about, you know, five or six feet, maybe.
Leigha: I’ll bet that was a surprise.
Grandpa: But if you’re on a bridge and you step out that’s probably another ten inches so when he gets down and is standing in the water, you can only see his head sticking over the bridge. The funny part about it was that the Cotts, which was the next farm over from us, they had all the apple orchards and that’s where we got most of our apples and stuff from and we used to run around with the sons. They were buddies of ours, too, and here we’d be taking apples from another farm.

Grandpa: You don’t see them anymore, but they used to have different little stores and stuff that had machines that had cartons of milk and we had it set up so we could take and put scotch tape onto these quarters. It was like three quarters and a quart of milk or something like that and we’d stick them into the machine, the quarters, and when we got the machine to click off the, you know, drop the milk,  we’d take the tape and pull the quarters back out.
Leigha: Goodness! You were bad children.
Ben: Did it work?
Grandpa: Yeah, it worked. And the funny part about it was that we lived on a dairy farm and we had all the milk we wanted.

Grandma: You heard the one where they went out the back window upstairs and got down the drain pipe onto the ground and they went to the neighbor’s house, was it?
Grandpa: Oh, the farm down near the town. They had a bunch of, I don’t know if they was beef cows or dairy cows, but they had a pretty good sized field of cows and we went down there and opened up the gate and chased ‘em all right down to town and then we ran home and went back to bed and the police came flying up the thing and hammering on the door and woke Pop up and said, “There’s a whole bunch of cows in town can you get your kids to give us a hand?” Haha!
Grandma: Serves you right!
Leigha: It’s a good thing cows can’t talk or they’d be like, “Hey! They’re the ones who let us out!”
Grandpa: Yeah.

Grandpa: I mean, we did mischief things, but nothing that was gonna hurt somebody, you know?
Grandma: That was entertainment back then.
Leigha: Before people had video games…
Grandma: and television.
Grandpa: Do you know what gate night is?
Leigha: No.
Grandpa: It’s the night before Halloween. Gate night. That’s what they used to call it. And we’d get into all kinds of mischief.
Ben: Like toilet paper?
Grandpa: Yeah. You know what we did with toilet paper? We’d take it on a road where you could tie it between two telephone poles. Them people would be drivin’ down the road and all the sudden they’d see this thing and slam on the brakes and go sliding through the toilet paper.
Grandma: You know what they boys did in our school. The doors of the school opened up this way [outwards like a cabinet] so you had a big wide doorway and they all picked up a Volkswagen, one of the teachers’ cars, and they put it in the hallway. Then when school was out and everyone was going home,
Grandpa: You get three or four good strong kids and they can pick up a small Volkswagen and carry it.
Grandma: And they did that so the guy goes out looking for his car and couldn’t find it anywhere. And another thing they used to do on Gate Night. They would take bikes and they would climb up telephone poles and they would hook it like those kind of telephone poles and it would have metal things like this for you to step on.
Grandpa: Yeah. Telephone poles used to have pins in ‘em where you could climb the telephone pole. Well, it was set up where you had to have a ladder to get the first six or eight feet and then you had these pins on each side where you could just climb up the telephone pole. You just took the bike up there and hung it. Lawn furniture and stuff like that would hang up there.
Leigha: Then who goes up there and takes it down?
Grandpa: We don’t know.
Leigha: They just come down?
Grandma: Eventually, “That’s where my bike is!” so they had to figure out how to get it down.
Leigha: It’s all funny until it’s your bike that’s up there.
Grandpa: The bikes back then were a lot heavier than they are now days.
Grandma: Or they would take a plastic bag or a box and fill it up with cow poop
Ben: and burn it
Grandma: No. They’d put it at the front door and ring the bell and run away. So people would come and not know what they had because they couldn’t smell it that great, you know. Especially if it was in a plastic bag.
Ben: Daddy says they used to take them, put poop in a paper bag, then light them on fire and ring the door bell and say, “It’s on fire!” and they stomp it out and get poop all over their foot.
Grandma: That was another thing.
Leigha: That’s so evil. Things are a lot worse now though.
Grandpa: Everything was more mischievous than harmful back then. All the police knew you. If you were in trouble you were better off going to the police than going home to our father. You figure there was five of us brothers plus my sister, then there was…
Leigha: Well, what did Aunt Harriet do? Aunt Harriet wasn’t that bad, was she?
Grandpa: Nah.
Leigha: She was the girl. 
Grandma: She was little miss priss.
Grandpa: She was playing baseball with us one time and she was pitching the ball and I don’t know who hit the ball, but he hit the ball and hit her right between the eyes. Knocked her out and she ended up having two black eyes.
Leigha: Did you get in trouble?
Grandpa: Not really. The only time we really got in trouble was when we put firecrackers under her bed.
Leigha: That’s mean!
Grandma: What was her nickname?
Grandpa: Female.

Grandma: Five boys and one girl and they all called her “Female”.

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