Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Milt Montague


When Milt was six or seven years old his favorite radio shows [television had not yet been invented] were The Shadow and Little Orphan Annie. He loved to listen to the singing commercials that introduced these two child oriented serials. “Little Orphan Annie” was sponsored by Ovaltine, a sweetened chocolate flavored powder, that was supposed to induce children to drink their daily quota of four glasses of milk. The Ovaltine company, in order to sell more of their product, had a special promotion to their radio listeners

“Just mail in the two seals from two different containers of Ovaltine, with your name and address, and we will send you an UNBREAKABLE ANNIE GLASS. Now you can drink your Ovaltine and milk in your own special Red Orphan Annie glass.” [This was 1930, long before the great era of plastics.]

Milt was intrigued by the concept of an “unbreakable drinking glass”. The only glasses he knew were the reused “yahrzeit glasses”. [heavy glass tumblers half filled with wax and a wick, that were lit to honor a deceased close family member on the yearly anniversary of his or her death. They burned for about 24 hours and then were carefully washed and recycled as drinking glasses. They were strong and resilient but they were made of glass and breakable.]

Milt asked his mother to get the Ovaltine for his milk. His mother couldn’t understand why he wanted to buy Ovaltine when she made her own delicious chocolate syrup but
in the end she yielded to her only son’s blandishments and Ovaltine appeared in the family larder.

Milt drank lots of milk and soon the two precious Ovaltine seals were on their way [his older sisters helped with the details of mailing]. He waited for the mailman every day hoping his package would arrive. Finally his big day came and the postman delivered the parcel into his waiting arms. He eagerly tore open the wrappings to see his precious drinking glass. He waited for Annie to come on the radio and drink his first glass of Ovaltine and milk, in his new Red Orphan Annie Glass, with Annie and Sandy [her dog.] Soon he heard the popular refrain on the radio,

“Who’s the little chatterbox ? The one with the auburn locks. Who could it be ? It’s little orphan An-n-n-ie. Arf, Arf, [the sound of a dog barking twice] goes San-ndy. “

He drank it all in one gulp. It was o.k…… Orphan Annie said that the cup was unbreakable. Milt found a hammer in his father’s tool box under the kitchen sink.

It was unbreakable, huh ?

He hit the cup with the hammer.
It shattered.


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