Got Milk?

I think I’ve mentioned six or seven hundred times that when I was a kid in the 1950s, I loved the television show Captain Kangaroo. The Treasure House. The Banana Man and Grandfather Clock. Other characters with clever names like Bunny Rabbit (a bunny rabbit), Mr. Moose (a moose), Dancing Bear (a dancing bear), and Mr. Green Jeans (I’ll leave that to your imagination).

The Captain and all of his friends had a positive impact on my formative years. To this day I will hear a piece of classical music and I will realize I recognize it from hearing it on Captain Kangaroo. I can’t go to the zoo without singing “Look there Daddy, do you see? There’s a horse in striped pajamas.” I know, Baby Boomers, now that song is stuck in your heads. My grands look at me like I’m nuts. They’re only partially wrong.

searchI’m telling you this because I’ve been thinking about cereal lately. Cereal is something I can eat on my low fiber diet, but not any that are actually healthy. Nope, only the ones that have no fiber. Cereal like Frosted Flakes. Which, of course, makes me think about my childhood, during which I ate cereals like Frosted Flakes, Sugar Smacks, Apple Jacks, and my mother’s one nod to healthy low-sugar cereals, Rice Krispies (which we liberally doused with sugar, thereby rendering them unhealthy). We used to get the snack packs, and we would bicker about who would get which cereal, none of us wanting the lone Corn Flakes, which always got tossed.

As I pondered my childhood cereals, I realized they were all made by Kellogg’s. I know there were other brands of cereals available. I’m certain at any rate that Post cereals were available, but they certainly weren’t on our family’s pantry shelf. Why?

My conclusion? Kellogg’s must have sponsored Captain Kangaroo, and we listened to the captain.

As an aside, while at the grocery store the other day, I noticed that an entire aisle of the supermarket is devoted to all-things-cereal. Not only are there very many more kinds of cereals, but many cereals have a variety of versions. Cheerios, for example. According to Cheerios’ own website (and yes, this cereal has its own website), there are Original, Honey Nut, Multi Grain, Ancient Grains, Honey Nut Medley Crunch, Frosted, Apple Cinnamon, Fruity, Banana Nut, Multi Grain Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Multi Grain Dark Chocolate Crunch, Dulce de Leche, Cinnamon Burst, and Protein Cinnamon Almond. Imagine. Here are a couple of photos I took at our market….

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As I further pondered cereal (remember that I’m retired and have lots of time on my hands), I began thinking about the milk we pour over our cereal. And how the milk, in my opinion, is the best part. All sugary and delicious.

Both Bill and I still drink the milk from our cereal. In fact, just like when we were kids, we unapologetically drink it straight from the bowl. Because sugary milk does not require a glass or a spoon. And we are proud of our milk mustaches.

I did a quick survey of the grands and their cereal milk-drinking habits. Here’s what I learned…

Alastair – always
Addie – about half
Dagny – never
Maggie Faith – no milk ever; eats her cereal dry
Joseph and Micah – yes, it’s a house rule that they must drink their milk
Kaiya – never
Mylee – never, or eats it dry
Cole – it hasn’t occurred to him and he spills half of it anyway

Cinnamon Toast Crunch seems to be a favorite amongst many of the grands. It’s a General Mills product, so it wasn’t advertised on Captain Kangaroo. Therefore, it was a no-go for me. However, I recently saw this recipe for a brunch cocktail, and while I’m not a fan of fancy-dancy drinks, I must admit this appealed to me. It’s the fact that you use the cereal milk. I haven’t tried it, so I can’t vouch….

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cocktail

Makes 2 cocktails, with more for virgin drinks

Ingredients
3 c. whole milk
2 c. Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
2 shots Fireball whiskey, or other cinnamon whiskey
2 shots rum cream liqueur

Process
Combine milk and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal in a large bowl or pitcher, and let steep for one hour in the refrigerator. Strain, saving the milk and tossing the cereal.

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and add the cinnamon whiskey, rum liqueur and 6 oz. of the milk. Shake and divide between two glasses filled with ice. Use the remaining milk for additional drinks or for non-alcoholic beverages for people who like sweetened milk.

Like me.

Play Dates

Like most Baby Boomers, from the time school let out at the beginning of summer until I trudged the seven blocks back to school after Labor Day with my shiny new school supplies and my book bag left over from the previous year or handed down from my sister, I played outside.

After a breakfast of Frosted Flakes with bananas on top (as a wink and a nod towards actual nutrition), I put on my pedal pushers and my sleeveless plaid blouse, considered – then rejected – my flip-flops (then called thongs), and ran outside barefoot to my back patio.

“Eee-ah-kee, Kathy,” I yelled at the top of my lungs. This was my way of contacting my best neighborhood friend and inviting her to come out and play.

“Eee-ah-kee,” she would respond, and be over at my house in a heartbeat.

I don’t know what eee-ah-kee means or from whence it originated. We are not American Indian. It just became our cry for fellowship. There was, by the way, no need to holler, as my childhood friend was just a quick scamper past our garage and through Mrs. Benda’s garden. But holler, we did.

And play, we did. Games that called for imagination. Riding our bikes. Playing tag. Spying on the neighbors to the south. Playing with our Barbie dolls. Writing and performing plays in front of our patient mothers and neighbors. Occasionally stopping for a glass of Kool-Aid that was toxically loaded with red dye. Taking a break for a salami sandwich and milk. Finishing up quickly as I heard in the distance, “Eee-ah-kee, Kris.”

More call to play.

Baby Boomers everywhere recall these days with joyful nostalgia. Metal playground equipment that was scalding to the touch which didn’t stop us from using them. Merry-go-rounds that you took turns pushing as hard as you could. Mostly we stayed on, but sometimes someone fell off and required Mercurochrome and a band-aid. See? It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. We actually hurt ourselves. We had scabs to prove it. Mercurochrome, by the way, was banned by the FDA in 1998. It’s a wonder we’re still alive.

I often see postings on social media from fellow Baby Boomers recalling these simpler days. I know that our kids are safer now than we were. I don’t purport that we return to the days of riding bikes without helmets. But still, I don’t see scores of Baby Boomers wearing head gear caused by falling off a merry-go-round.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a link to an article from the reputable publication Psychology Today. This article, written by a smartypants as indicated by the fact that he has a Ph.D., reports that rates of depression and anxiety among young people are on the rise, and have been for several decades. He goes on to say that this psychological phenomenon appears to have nothing to do with the idea that our world is inherently more dangerous. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, World War II, and the ensuing years when we all thought we were going to be blasted to Kingdom Come by a nuclear bomb coming straight out of the Soviet Union, we were all still happy campers.

And the reason for the increase according to Dr. Peter Gray? Kids no longer have a sense of personal control over what is going to happen to them. The reason, he goes on to say, is that kids no longer play outside unwatched by any sort of parental figure. Instead, they have Play Dates. As a result, kids no longer solve their own problems. They don’t figure out how to fight their own battles. Instead, parents help their kids make decisions (when they’re not actually making the decisions for them). Parents are choosing their kids’ friends. Kids aren’t able to choose their own interests. Instead, they are put on soccer teams and into gymnastic classes. They must study, study, study because they have to get into the best schools and for heaven’s sake, they MUST go to college. As a result, they are spending more time than ever in school, and less time in free play with their friends.

I don’t know if Dr. Smartypants is right or not. My grandkids seem perfectly happy with their lives. But it does make me sort of sad that they haven’t the opportunity to experience summer in the same way that I did.

And, by the way, kids still drink red Kool-Aid, though I’m certain it’s made with safer coloring.

Here is a photo courtesy of a fellow grade school classmate who somehow had access to this permanent reminder of our youth. I am pretty sure I am the little girl with my back to the camera in the middle row, third from the right, uncharacteristically wearing my glasses. The top row features the women who served us every day at cafeteria. While they look wholly unpleasant (except for the woman on the far right who didn’t get the memo that she shouldn’t smile), I recall them actually being quite pleasant. Ah, sweet youth….

cafeteria line circa 1960 (2)