The year was l975, and Chub and I were planning to stop in New
Zealand on our way home from Australia, so a mutual friend
introduced us to a visiting professor and his family. He had
completed his assignment at the University of Missouri, and the
family came out to the farm just a few days before they were to
leave Columbia. It was late October, and the children had
attended a local school and read about jack-o’-lanterns but
had never seen a real one.
Chub and I had bought some pumpkins earlier. On the spur of
the moment, I put a plastic tablecloth on the floor in the living
room, and the mother and I sat on the floor with the youngsters
to carve pumpkins. Finally, we had transformed them into
Even the toddler, with his mother guiding the sharp knife, had
a turn at carving. We cleaned up the mess, discarded the waste
and put the plastic tablecloth in the sink to soak. Then we put
in candles, lit them, put on the lids and set our glowing
jack-o’-lanterns out on the front porch. We turned off the
lights, and the children were delighted. It was a joy to share
this part of Halloween with this fun family from Down Under.
They invited us to come to their home for three days on our
way back from Australia. What great hosts they were!
The children’s grandfather was Maori a Polynesian
native. He said that when Europeans came to the New Zealand
islands, they fought, and the natives won but then accepted the
intruders. His wife’s ancestors were from Europe.
He was Maori and was also an executive in the largest dairy
operation in the country. He discovered that Chub and I were
especially interested in seeing the dairy plant, so he took us
there at about 10 p.m. while the night-shift workers were on
duty. The huge plant was beautiful with its outside lighting.
We saw the huge stainless steel tanker trucks that brought
milk from farms in many areas of New Zealand. Controlled cream
temperatures and modern churns permitted our host to push a
button, and in only five minutes, cream became butter. Then he
gave us samples of something I didn’t know could be made of
milk: dried milk bars. We nibbled on one of those lightly
sweetened, flavored bars like dried ice cream the size of
bars of soap. We saw the enormous warehouse where wrapped dry
milk bars flavored with vanilla, chocolate, pineapple and
strawberry were wrapped and packed in containers, awaiting
shipment on pallets.
All of those huge boxes were full tons and tons of
tasty, nourishing food belonged to Third World countries that had
no facilities for storing foods such as this. Milk bars required
protection from insects, animals, thieves and so forth. They
required controlled temperature and humidity, but that kind of
storage facility didn’t exist in many countries that needed
milk for growing children.
Government officials bought the packaged milk bars and left
them stored in the New Zealand dairy’s warehouse; they then
ordered shipments of small quantities as needed. As with ice
cream, I chose vanilla as my favorite; it was mildly sweet and
tasted a lot like ice cream but it didn’t drip!
Thinking back, I recall that in 11 days of cycling in mainland
China, we were served no milk except in tourist coffee. I asked
our Hong Kong interpreters about milk for babies. "They
nurse their mothers about two years," our interpreter said,
"and that’s all they get."
Hopefully New Zealand has now introduced dried milk bars in
several flavors to children in China.