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Whittling Away: Nemesis


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

I grew up outside of Malone in upstate New York between North Bangor and Westville.  Our little farm was a mile or so from the nearest paved road. 

Calling it a farm stretches the truth just a little. We raised a lot of our own food, having a large garden and chickens, pigs, ducks and an occasional cow or horse. We had woods, fields and a wonderful stream to wander. We worked on some of the neighboring farms, sometimes just to help out and sometimes as we got older for real hard cash. 

My first paying job involved working for a full haying season, which took up most of the summer, for which I was paid the handsome sum of $15. It was wonderful to be so rich at such a young age.

I used to love to help our next door neighbor, Donald, go on his milk route. He went from farm to farm in his flatbed truck with the wooden rack and collected milk cans, which he then delivered to the Sealtest Ice Cream Plant in North Bangor. I got to ride, sitting high, discussing manly things with a grownup and seeing the wide world. 

I helped pull the cans of milk out of the coolers where they were stored and load them on the truck. There were even a couple of farms that still kept their milk cans in a spring house built over a small stream or spring to keep the cans cool. 

Looking back, I wonder how much help a scrawny 12-year-old really was. The milk cans weighed 80 pounds and I topped the scales at around 90. Donald liked the company, I know that. 

I did provide other entertainment, though. One farm had a large gray goose that didn’t like kids. He usually attacked head on, treeing me on the truck’s side rack after a short, terrified run through the muddy barn yard.

Donald and the beast’s owner were no help at all, being too paralyzed with laughter to help. 

It got so that when we’d pull into the farm yard and back up to the milk house, I’d wait in the truck until I had surveyed the surrounding territory for my adversary. If it looked clear, I’d cautiously descend from the relative safety of the cab and help Donald with the cans. 

The goose took to hiding and waiting until my back was turned before attacking. The usual run for my life and the scampering up the side rack resulted in gales of laughter from Donald and the farmer. 

I saw nothing funny about an 800-pound feathered carnivore trying to eat a little kid. I swear, that bird had fangs! 

Then one faithful day, we pulled into the barn yard, backed to the milk house and Donald got out and greeted his farmer friend while I cautiously checked out the surroundings.  No goose so I carefully opened the truck door and cautiously descended. I hurried to the quiet, cool, semi-safety of the milk house. I wrestled a milk can to the door and checked the barn yard before starting the trip to the truck. 

About halfway to the truck, my nemesis came rushing around the corner of the milk house and the usual dash for the truck and the scamper up the side rack occurred. The goose, having been denied his intended prey, turned on the laughing adults. 

Donald joined me on the rack while the goose pursued his owner around the truck and into the farm woodshed. 

The next trip to the farm, the farmer told of the excellent goose dinner they had had on Sunday. 

We peacefully loaded the milk cans and drove away towards the ice cream plant and Donald joined me in a chorus of “The old gray goose, she ain’t what she used to be…”

Thought for the week — “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” ~ Yogi Berra.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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