by David Raithby from Muskoka Falls, ON
Nov 14, 15
Autumn was always a busy time in our house. My mother was quite a cook. In October, she would spend hours in the kitchen putting up preserves for the winter ... jams, jellies and her special home made chili sauce.
She was so prolific that she always ran out of containers and jars.
One year, dad solved her problem by bringing home a pile of half pint containers from his work.
My Dad operated a dairy. Not the one with a red barn, split rail fences and black and white cows lazily chewing their cud out in the field. A processing plant in the heart of the city. It was a two-storey, red brick building full of ice cream and steam – the dairy had a number of steam-heated vats for heating the milk; a homogenizer and various stations to package the milk.
Overhead there was a series of pipes and valves so the processed milk, milk shake mix and ice cream mix could be diverted to the milk can filler, the packer or the half pint machine.
Every year, in late October, my dad would switch the overhead lines so chocolate milk shake mix would head to the half pint machine.
He would run a couple of hundred half pints of milk shake, package them up and bring them home. Into the freezer in the basement they went. Because this is what my family gave out on Halloween. The day after Halloween, my school cafeteria was full of kids drinking chocolate milk shakes. Our house was so popular that it wasn't unusual for us to get a couple of hundred trick or treaters.
The year I’m writing about my Mother was out on Halloween, so my Dad was managing the masses. When he ran out of stock at the front door, he would run down to the downstairs freezer and restock.
Everything was going well until the phone rang. It was 9 pm. And it was our neighbour.
“Jack,” she said. “I think you have a problem.”
Dad had inadvertently handed out about 40 half pints of my Mother's chili sauce to trick or treaters. There were going to be some unhappy kids at lunch the next day.
Mom arrived home a half hour later. Dad had to tell her what he had done. And as you can imagine, she wasn't pleased. But my Dad, forever the optimist, found a bright side.
“Just think,” he said. “Next year we will have half as many kids and twice as many mothers!”
The dairy was sold in the 1990's. It is a 7/11 now. My optimistic Dad has been gone for 20 years. But I still smile every Halloween when I remember that night