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More for Your Money


Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, March 12, 2001

When the clock radio comes on these late winter mornings, I am often surprised by how much daylight already exists at that hour. I lose track of sunrise during the cloudy months of January and February.

This time of year makes me recall a long period during which I witnessed every sunrise. When I was a dairy farmer, I made it a point to be up and in the barn quite early every day. The radio played a part in those days, too, but it was not the clock radio that sat on my bedside table. The radio of most importance was the one in the barn that was always tuned to WCCO. The barn radio came on with the main barn lights and played constantly. The WCCO programming set the pace for the milking activity and other chores.

If I could be in the barn and have the ground feed in front of the cows by 5:45 a.m., then I knew that I was on schedule. I didn’t have to look at my watch or wait for Charlie Boone or Roger Erickson to say the time. I could tell from the program exactly what time it was. If all was going well, I had three cows milked and the milkers were on the fourth, fifth, and sixth cows in line. I would be located right under the radio when Boone and Erickson sang their signature song. They’d sing, "Good morning, good morning. It’s grand to be on hand. Good morning, good morning to you." If I heard that song clearly, then it was likely to be a good morning. The chores were going as scheduled and I felt like it was starting out to be a good day.

If things weren’t going so well, let’s say a drinking cup had run over during the night and the mangers and gutters were full of water, then I would likely hear an entirely different type of program. The programming from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. was mostly foreign to me as that was the time I normally did crop work or other outdoor chores. So, if I was still milking in the morning and heard Howard Viken come on with news or I heard the Northwest Orient Airlines gong, then it was proof that something had gone awry and my day was off to a tough start. Similarly, if I was still milking in the evening when the baseball game started at seven, then I was behind my normal schedule.

Listening to WCCO in the barn was a habit I picked up from my father. His radio was always tuned to WCCO. Maybe it was one of the few stations that provided a signal strong enough for adequate reception. It certainly provided a signal strong enough to imprint a few details onto my brain that have stayed there for decades. For example, I can recall and, under duress, could even sing the jingle for Sepko. Sepko was a white powdered soap used for cleaning milking equipment. The lyrics are as follows:

More for your money, more for your milk.
Sepko cleans so easy, leaves your hands as smooth as silk.
If you’re looking for the easy way, try Monarch products soon.
The greatest thing in dairy since the cow jumped over the moon.

I wasn’t the only one to listen to WCCO and have some of those jingles welded onto my mind. My wife grew up in town and is several years younger than me. She and I can remember and sing the "Weather-Ball" jingles. The Weather-Ball was a plastic ball lit from inside by colored neon bulbs. It sat high atop its sponsoring bank in downtown Minneapolis. For a country boy like me, to hear the Weather-Ball jingle was a connection to an immense and exotic world beyond my tedious milking chores. Although you may remember better, I recall that it goes something like this:

When the Weather-Ball is green,
Precipitation is foreseen.
When the Weather-Ball is red,
Warmer weather is ahead.
When the Weather-Ball is white,
Colder weather is in sight.

These are not necessarily priceless memories, but it makes me wonder if anything I hear today has a chance of being a memory decades into the future. Evidently, I need to be more careful what I listen to because I can never tell what will stick.

By Wayne Pike

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