By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Robert Cohen - 1958

Notmilkman's Autobiography, Chapter 2

My father tells the story of how a cow's tail lashed me
across the face at the New York State Fair when I was three
years old. I do not remember the episode, but to this day
have an innate aversion to bovine asses (dairy farmers &
milk marketing people?)

I attended P.S. 78 in the Bronx. I was in
first grade. The year was either 1957 or 1958.
I remember the earaches well. Dr. Rosenberg
had delivered me, and was still the family doctor.
I remember the constant pain and doctor's visits.
If only my parents had known what doctors now
are learning. Milk is the culprit.

It was just about a dozen years after atomic weapons were
dropped on Japan, and the United States and Soviet Union
were engaged in a cold war that terrified children with the
threat of nuclear war. We practiced air raid drills, and
huddled against the walls in school hallways. Milk was only
a few pennies per carton then for students.

By fourth grade, I refused to drink milk. I had heard or
read about nuclear fallout and strontium 90 in cow's milk,
and persuaded mom to buy my intellectual argument. I really
hated the stuff, even then.

I was once very shy. Kids used to pick on me. In public
school, one boy named Michael Tartack used to hit me every
day. He intimidated me. He stole my milk money. One day, in
a torrent of tears, I revealed all to my father. Dad then
taught me how to box.

For three days, I continued to take Michael's abuse. He
stole my milk money on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On
Thursday, I wound up, curled up my fingers, and delivered a
Whitey Ford-like fastball to Michael's cheek with my fist.
My hand hurt a bit, but I broke two bones in his face. I got
into a bit of trouble, but the milk-drinking bully of my
life proved to me even then that stealing milk money and
drinking milk does not prevent bone breaks! As a matter of
fact, the bones in his cheek may have broken because the
calcium in his milk from my milk money was so poorly
absorbed. See:

I received a "poor" in conduct, "excellents" in every other
subject. Eliminating the milk bully kept me from skipping a
grade, and jumping past third grade to the fourth.

I became a discipline problem on my own merits in fourth
grade. I trace my aggressiveness on that new found power
gained by the milk punch in the second grade.

Deep in the subliminal mind of a youngster may have been a
vow to one day seek revenge upon the entire milk industry.
The rest is history.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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