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January 19, 2014

Time in a bottle

A rosebud by any other name. What does it conjure up for you?

I have enjoyed it in poetry and in song. I have savored it on the bush and in perfume. I have heard it in motion pictures and on television shows. Simpsons fans might recall a famous episode called “Rosebud” in which the iconic 1941 Orson Welles movie “Citizen Kane” was parodied. I have visited places with that name and eaten at Rosebud restaurants. 

I also have fond memories of the former Rosebud Creamery in Plattsburgh when local and regional milk processors dotted the landscape. I worked on farms and marveled at how the milk hauler could lift the heavy, full cans of cool milk onto his truck for delivery to the local dairy plant.

As I sat in my comfortable kitchen on a sunny January morning, I searched my brain for how much one of those thick steel, 10-gallon milk cans weighed full of whole milk. Unpasteurized milk weighs 8.6 pounds per gallon. That would add up to 86 pounds in those big cans. Ah, yes, but how much does the can weigh?

Anyone who passed by our house on the morning I began this column might have done a double take as they saw this old fat guy in his pajamas step onto the front porch with bathroom scales under one arm. I picked up one of the two old milk cans that flank the door and set it on the scales, balancing it delicately to get an accurate reading. Sixteen pounds, as near as I could tell.

Do the math. For the can full of milk, 102 pounds. Imagine the muscles on that man who could grab the handles of two cans — one in each hand — and lift them from the cooler and easily put both up on the truck in one, swift motion. Those were the days when men were men and stayed in shape without ever visiting a gym.

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