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Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 2/26/2001

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk Transcript

Today, Shelley Fraser Mickle has some fresh ideas about spilt milk. 

There’s that old saying, “Don’t cry over spilt milk.” And when you are a kid, you first hear it when you are about four years old, and I don’t think I ever once heard it when I really spilled my milk. No. Then I mostly heard, “Get a rag and clean it up.” 

I’ll admit that there are times when I hear myself say, “Well, I guess there’s no sense in crying over spilt milk,” which exonerates me for doing something I can’t undo. It lets me off the hook for not being perfect, and I like that. 

Yet it seems that when I was a child, I heard “Don’t cry over spilt milk” whenever I did something when I should have known better. Like the D in Deportment I got on my report card when the teacher warned me forty two times to stop talking during math. And at recess when I threw my favorite marble into a game with Collin Doworth, the Minnesota Fats of marble shooting. 

The fact is, I’ve looked everywhere to see if I could find out who first said “Don’t cry over spilt milk,” and whoever it is it must not want to admit it. Because I can’t find a single thing about it on the Internet or in the encyclopedia or the Watergate tapes. I’m afraid, though, it was my Uncle Louis. 

You see, Louis was twelve years old when he was sent down the road to milk Gertrude, his neighbor’s cow. His mother sent him because recently the family cow had died, and Louis was the oldest of ten brothers and sisters who really did need that milk. While Louis was in the barn milking Gertrude, his neighbor’s wife opened the door to the freezer that was plugged in there in the barn and told him he could help himself. Bags of frozen cookies were lined up on the top shelf. The fact was, the neighbors were ashamed of their cow and were offering the cookies as a consolation. You see, Gertrude was a cow with an attitude. And Louis had to spend the next two hours getting her to fill the milk bucket, and while he did, a whole bag of cookies had time to thaw.

On the way home, Louis ate the cookies. Then, at the top step to his house, he tripped, the bucket turned over, and the milk spilled onto the ground. While his brothers and sisters cried, Louis looked at them and said there wasn’t any need for that. And then he turned around with his empty bucket and headed back. Yes, like my Uncle Louis always said, there’s no sense in crying over spilt milk, especially if you know where the cookies are. 

Posted in Food, Stories