When I was a kid, our family drank a LOT of milk for some reason. It was the drink of choice at our house; I don't think we stocked soda on a regular basis. I can remember waking up in the middle of the night and just chugging loads of milk straight from the jug.
Nothing quite hit the spot like a glass of ice-cold milk.
Being Knoxvillians, the only place to get your super-good milk was Weigel's, a locally-owned chain of convenience stores that stock Weigel's Farms dairy products.
There was one a couple of miles from our house and it seems like just about every other night, our family would pile into the VW Bug and my dad would drive us over the hill to load up on milk.
Of course, any self-respecting convenience store at the time also had a kick-ass candy aisle and comic-book spin rack. While my parents shopped, my sister and I would speed-shop with our allowance, usually stocking up on whatever gimmicky candy was being pushed; pop-rocks, gold-nugget gum in a denim pouch, chewing gum with liquid centers, along with the newest Archie or Richie Rich comic.
Seasonally, there were kites and fireworks, Halloween costumes and candy canes filled with jelly beans.
Weigel's, for a long while, was the center of our allowance-spending universe.
Last year I cut back to a four-day work week so that I could devote one day a week to helping out at my parent's house. Most Fridays, I take my dad, who now has Alzheimers, out to lunch and then spend a few hours cleaning and organizing their house.
Yesterday, I called my mom from her house to see what kind of groceries she might be needing, and she told me she could use a gallon of milk. So my dad and I got in my car and we headed over the hill to Weigel's. My dad double-checked his pocket to see how much cash he had on him and was out of his seat-belt as soon as we pulled into the parking space. While I got the milk, he quickly grabbed two king-sized Paydays and two king-sized Hershey's bars and waited for me in line at the check-out. I reminded him that he had a bag of Hershey's at home and convinced him to put those two back. I told him he could get a lottery ticket with the money instead. He loaded his loot into his pockets and we headed home.
I'm always on the look-out for landmarks as I grow older that serve as a rite-of-passage; occasions that let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I've become an adult. This was definitely one of those moments.