Archive for Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reminiscing with old friends

June 26, 2008

Last week I visited with two old friends, Keith and Betty, whom I worked with about 61 years ago. We worked together from 1947 to 1966, almost 20 years, at Milk Producers Marketing Company in the Fairfax District in Kansas City. Betty worked in the office and Keith was in charge of filling bags and barrels with powdered milk. We worked side by side as I ran the machine that condensed the milk before it was turned into powder.

We went through a lot together and agreed that the most devastating circumstance was the 1951 flood. It was July 23 when our area was completely flooded. The rain fell for 40 days, and the Kansas River flooded in Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City. When it crested, it backed the Missouri River up and caused floodwaters to back up into the Fairfax District. Our plant had 10 feet of water. The water contained oil from the nearby Phillips Refinery, and all our walls were covered with oily grime.

During this time we were fortunate to have another plant in Butler, Mo., and the milk trucks were able to go there where all the milk was processed into cheese. Keith and I had the job of cleanup at our own plant. All the interior walls were concrete and tile, so that was easily cleaned with Steam Jennies and chlorinating the whole interior. We passed inspection and were up and running in two weeks. There were more than 100 motors that had to be sent out to be baked, and this worked quite well as they ran for years after that.

Keith was always very health conscious, and is still active even though he will be 90 years old soon. He always ate an apple a day. Before we worked together, he worked at the North American Bomber Plant, which built the B-25 Mitchell Bombers. He taught me many things, including the correct way to sharpen drill bits. I have since used this technique to teach my own sons how to do this.

It is always good to realize how many great things we learn from each other over the years and to reminisce with old friends.

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