I grew up attending school at Comanche ISD, a small school system in Comanche, Texas. Our once upon a time high school building had become the J.B. Layne Elementary School by the time I came along, and that grand old building was flanked on either side by two outdoor “wings.”
Of course, there was no air conditioning to be had in any of the classrooms that made up Comanche ISD, but I don’t really remember suffering in the heat even though I was used to central air at home. What I do remember is the chocolate milk, especially the chocolate milk that could be had in the afternoons if one only had his “milk money.”
I’m not sure if this treat was only offered to the youngest children, but I don’t remember the priviledge beyond the second grade or so.
The way if worked was that at a certain time every afternoon, the children who had milk money were allowed to leave the classroom and go to the lunchroom where they could purchase a carton of chocolate milk…not 2% and not chocolate “drink.” No, it was absolutely cold and it was absolutely MILK with everything in it that should be in it.
Even this many decades later, I can still get a whiff of chocolate milk (that I avoid like the plague because of the carbs) and I am transported back to those hot afternoons, and I can still see a little girl slowly walking, missing the cracks, and sipping through a straw the yummy, thick chocolate.
Even this many decades later, I can get a whiff of the delicious stuff and I can still see the spot on my suede penny loafers where somehow a drop landed, a drop that for the life of the shoe stubbornly refused to be erased.
Today, things have changed. The chocolate milk that I drank is no longer allowed near a school building, and a first grader would certainly never be allowed to leave an outdoor classroom and wander across campus to purchase his own milk and find his own way back to class.
Today, it would not be fair to the children without the nickel for those in the money to drink chocolate milk in front of them, and that is probably as it should be.
Of course, there WERE very good lessons to be learned from milk time, however.
Obviously, first of all I had to remember to bring a nickel. Second, walking across campus was very good for me. It gave me a bit of independence and responsibility, and it provided me a great time for uninterrupted thought. I also learned to budget time because it would have been unheard of for a student to be late getting back to class from milk time.
Yes, I remember the chocolate milk and silly as it sounds, it is a memory that I cherish.