Reinhardt Family History

Memories of Eggs and Chickens

Stories from Neil Reinhardt

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of Eggs & Chickens


What is a birthday? It is the first time you see the light of day. Every year after that, it calls for a celebration. Some people have many more to celebrate than others. According to my mother, I never would have made it to my first birthday if it weren't for a good doctor and mellins food, a milk substitute. Mellins was used before Mul-soy, for babies that cannot digest milk. According to mom's stories, as I approached my first birthday I weighed only a little more than I did when I was born. I finally made it to have 84 birthdays. My wife Em always baked a cake for my birthday after we were married. So far she has baked 58, the most of them Devils Food cakes, one of my favorites. Besides baking her own cake, she made cakes for the kids. It would make quite a row of cakes if they were all put together at one time.

Living on a farm I have been on hand for the birthdays of many animals. Little pigs, who, five minutes after they were born crowded up to the table for their first meal would never get to celebrate their first year birthday. By the time they reached six months they would be pork chops, ham and bacon. Lamb usually came as singles or twins. If at times there were triplets, there was no room at the table for them all, so one had to be bottle-fed. Calves only had a chance to celebrate two carefree birthdays. After that they were expected to produce a calf of their own or be banished to become McDonald's hamburgers.

I think the greatest birthday of today is that of any boy or girl turning 16. If they had Drivers Ed. and passed a drivers test, they are eligible for a drivers license. This was not the case when I was 16 years old. No license was required. If one lived in the country and was going to High School, you could drive at age 14. I will never forget my 16th birthday. That was the day I had my first accident, first and only one in 68 years of driving. Dad had been called away for some reason, and I skipped school to drive the milk truck. After stopping at a stop sign, I drove out in front of a car coming down the hill. Luckily no one was hurt, but there sure was a white river of milk running down the hill. Shortly after that, a license was required for driving. All you did was fill out some papers and send a dollar to Madison and you received one.

My next big birthday was when I was 21, which meant I could vote. I don't think I have missed voting at an election since. Today the voting age is 18. In my trips to the polls since that law was passed, I have yet to see anyone near 18 years of age there. Maybe they vote at a different time than I do.

All birthdays do not call up good memories. My dad died on one of my sister's birthdays. Recently even one of my own birthdays was celebrated with a sad note. Everything had been arranged by our kids, mostly via long-distance phone calls, for my 80th birthday celebration. It was to include kids, grandchildren and friends. However, just days before the event my brother John, who was 15 years younger then I, passed away. We were close friends, and we knew he would have wanted us to get together, as so many had come from away. We gathered at the Lakeside Park Pavilion, subdued somewhat. We stopped for a moment of silent prayer in Jim's memory, and talked about the times past when we had enjoyed his company. I am sure he was with us in spirit, as in the later years our family had a Birthday club, which he and his wife Corrine had never missed.

At that time I told everyone we would have a bigger celebration in 20 years, I'm looking forward to it. Someone asked to what I attributed living to be 80 years old. It was living one day at a time, and looking forward to the next day. Also, as you work your way through life, there are two rules you should never bend: Never whittle toward yourself, and never pee against the wind. It worked for me.