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Everybody needs to drink milk -- pasteurized milk

WORTHINGTON -- Oh yes. In a time gone by -- years and years gone by -- I drank raw milk many times. I had five uncles who lived on farms. We visited uncles and their families quite regularly for Sundays, for birthdays. Every kid needed to have milk at every meal. That's what everyone believed.

I loved chore time when the uncles and the cousins headed for the barns to milk the cows. Very often I had a stream of milk squirted in my direction. I can't remember that I ever caught a stream with my mouth, but I had many glasses of milk which were only minutes from a cow.

I think almost no one said raw milk. Only milk. There's the cow, here's the milk.

I had adventures with milk. Milk got me in trouble at school for the first time. Kindergarten. Grace Kies.

At about 10 every morning, good John Benson, genial and smiling, came through our schoolroom door carrying a crate filled with half-pint bottles of chilled milk. It was as close as we came to a school lunch program.

My woe began early. Mr. Benson provided a drinking straw with each bottle of milk. I believe it was the first time I saw a straw. We didn't have them at home. I realized you could not only suck on a straw to empty your bottle; you could blow on a straw and make bubbles. I giggled. It was one of the great things I discovered in life.

I suppose Mrs. Kies warned me more than once. I don't recall that. Soon she was out of patience.

At the back of each room at The Grade School -- later, Central Elementary School -- were two cloak rooms, one for boys and one for girls, each with handsome folding oak doors finished off with a green stain.

For blowing bubbles, I was banished to the boys' cloak room. The doors were closed, and I was alone. I wasn't deeply troubled. There were open spaces at both the top and bottom of the doors. There was light in my prison.

Adults of that time began batting an issue back and forth that didn't concern 5-year-old students deeply. Raw milk vs Pasteurized milk. I see in the papers that controversy is raging once again.

Worthington had two dairies, both of which underscored their milk was pasteurized milk. John Benson, who brought our school milk each day, was a partner with Axel Sorensen at Benson-Sorensen Dairy on Second Avenue. John Fenstermacher, who became a popular Worthington mayor, had Capital Dairy on 10th Avenue. The name derived from Turkey Capital.

Between them, the dairies probably served 98 percent of Worthington's milk drinkers. They made deliveries -- quart bottles and pint bottles, milk, coffee cream, whipping cream -- house to house in the early hours of every morning.

There were others. Genevieve Peters lived with her mother on an acreage along the south edge of town. Genevieve delivered milk with a horse-drawn wagon which might have seen earlier service as a mail delivery wagon.

The dairies, pasteurized milk. Genevieve and others like her -- Eddie Renken -- raw milk.

Schools and teachers favored pasteurized milk and gave it encouragement. Pasteurization destroyed harmful germs. There was a movie at that time -- Paul Muni in "The Story of Louis Pasteur." If we went to movies, we were encouraged to see "Pasteur."

I felt for the country kids. They had little choice but to drink raw milk, all the while being told raw milk was dangerous and pasteurized milk was the way to go.

Another incident with milk still is vivid in memory. Three or four of us went through the line at a U of M dormitory cafeteria (Pioneer Hall) and settled at a table with our meals and our milk.

There was an anthropology major there wanting to show off. He chided us: big kids drinking milk. Everyone needs milk, we insisted.

Boy anthropologist countered that no one on these prairies was more healthy, generally, than the Indian natives. Indians survived Minnesota winters in tipis made of buffalo skins. Indians did not keep cows and goats. Indians never drank milk.

Well, we said, Indians didn't know what was good for them.

It was a feeble response.

Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column runs on Saturdays.