The Milk Run

Holland - producer of the finest cheese and best butter in the world and we couldn't get any.

Although we had ration coupons for milk, there rarely was any. Plenty of milk was produced, but it was mostly sent to Germany, like most other food products.

Each farmer had to furnish a set amount of milk per cow and the containers put on the road to be picked-up by the milk factory truck.

We lived close to dairy farmers but they would not sell unless you also bartered. The barter was vegetable and potato peelings of which we had precious little.

I would gather it in a little sack, and a girlfriend and I set out on our kid's bikes with wooden tires - rubber tires were no longer existent.   We started out at the time in the afternoon the allied planes would be on their bombing run to Germany.   The air raid sirens would go off and everybody was supposed to be in an air raid shelter, including the Germans.   Though the risk of confiscation was minimum, there was a risk of aircraft gunfire. But there were fox holes and ditches (filled with water) along the road.

We went along the country road, sometimes with a stiff wind blowing, which was tough bicycling on those wooden tires.  The diary farm was about 7 miles away.

By 4 p.m., milking time, we were at the dairy farm.  Had to wait for the cows to get milked and for the farmer's wife who scrutinized our bags with peelings first. (Fodder for the cows and pigs)   If she approved the contents of my little bag, I was allowed to buy 1/2 pint of milk (brought my own container).

It was disgusting to see how rich these farmers had become; their homes were full of antique Persian rugs, furniture, paintings - the farmer's wife was bedecked with gold jewelry.   But what are you to do if you need milk?

We happily returned with our booty, the 1/2 pint of milk.   We made these trips about once a week, because it was difficult to gather enough peelings for 1/2 pint of milk.

Only one time were we stopped by the Germans - they were in the process of taking all the bicycles (bicycle razzia) . Here I was, a 13-year old, arguing with an old German soldier - telling him the bike was a kid's-sized bike, which was true, and it was given to me by my Father who was now dead, also true.  He relented and let me keep the bike - he was not interested in the milk.  My girl friend showed him her bike was also a kid's bike and she passed.

Nobody was worried about us 13 and 14 year-old girls making these trips. There were no cars on the road, except German military cars and an occasional horse and wagon - the biggest danger was from the air and we knew how to dive into the foxholes pretty darn quick.



Gouda Cheese Market
Nationial Geographic
Nationial Geographic

From "Fragments of My Life"
~ 1939 - 1945 ~
by Henny Carlisle
©Henny Carlisle - 2002
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