Published on -8/5/2014, 9:19 AM
It is with much nostalgia I read of our Fort Hays State University dairy closing. I feel a bit of possession since I spent many hours of my adolescence working and milking there. I began my career at 9 years, 10 months digging dandelions on the Fort Hays campus for 18 cents an hour.
My first paycheck was $3.47. Although the money was good, I knew greater things lay ahead. Sure enough, by the middle of the summer, I got raised to 22 cents per hour. Much of the time we were working in the vicinity with German prisoners of war. We never felt threatened in any way. These guys were "happy campers," and usually about 10 of them were guarded by one M.P. with an M1 carbine. I felt they could have passed it around and taken turns guarding themselves.
In the seventh grade, I was "promoted" to the dairy barn -- the location being where Wiest Hall is today. Al Graf was the dairyman and the source of much of my early education. Graf originally was from suburban Victoria and relayed all of the excitement (previous and present) from Victoria. I thought Victoria surely was having more fun than we were. I felt the dairy would close when Graf retired.
We generally milked approximately 42 to 44 cows. Most of the time, they would be in the pasture where the buffalo now are, and sometimes I would get on a horse to get them -- if they didn't come in by themselves. It depended how the lead cow felt about it. Other pastures extended to ground west of the present bypass. We ran two shifts. Each cow knew which shift they were in and what stall was theirs. DeLaval milkers were used, and we weighed and recorded the production of each cow. Cleanup of the barn floor always was a delightful experience. The story now goes from "we" to "I." The state of Kansas furnished me with a scraper, a No. 12 scoop shovel and a wheelbarrow. But remember, at 45 cents an hour, the money was good.
The summer between my junior and senior year in college was my last tour of duty with Fort Hays. That was the summer of '54, and our main projects were the fence around the bypass and building the current dairy barn we just retired. I hurt my back, got some time off and went to Kansas City to visit my future wife. So it wasn't all bad.
Stan "Bud" Dalton,