The electric churn
by Ruth Baker
Oct 03, 2010 | 2268 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruth Baker
Ruth Baker
During World War II while my parents were in Birmingham working, I lived with my maternal grandparents, Buster Ed, known by all as Uncle Ed, and Sarah. Their house was in Powell Town on about an acre of land at the edge of a large wooded area. Every inch was put to good use with a large Victory Garden, a cow shed, chickens and a smoke house.

My chores included feeding the animals, gathering eggs, and whatever things my small hands could do. The chore I hated most was churning butter. Every day I would sit before the churn, dasher in hand, with a towel wrapped around the top to start a long process. It seemed to take hours before the butter would start to form and I spent a lot of time switching hands and lifting the top to check on my progress.

So, you can imagine my delight when Grandpa came home one day with an electric churn. It was just a gallon glass jar with a dasher on the same lines as the one I used; however, this one had an electric cord. Oh happy day! I was free at last!

The next day was Saturday. That may not mean much now, but at that time everyone went to town where they spent the day shopping and catching up on the news and gossip. At lunch, we would sit in the shade of the town square and eat our lunch. Afterwards, there would be ice cream in a cup. By evening we would be tired and happy as we returned home for the evening chores.

There was a place called the wagon yard where you could park your car, and even in 1942, many wagons would be there also. The mules would be tied up under the shade trees. Another sign of that era was the many small children put to sleep in the back seat of a car or the bed of a wagon with only an older child playing nearby to watch them.

On this particular Saturday, however, fate took a cruel hand. After breakfast that morning, Grandma put the milk in her new churn to see how it would work. Meanwhile, Grandpa, eager to get to town, decided to blow his horn until we all came out. The kids crowded out and Grandma hustled out in a huff headed for town.

Meanwhile, the churn was busy making butter.

When we arrived home after a long and satisfying day, my grandma entered the kitchen first. It was the only time I ever heard her use THAT word. Grandpa and I crowded in behind her and were struck speechless! The churn had done its job well. The jar was full of butter. The dasher was scarcely turning. At each slow turn, it would spit out a small glob of butter through the hole at the top. The globs were on every surface in the kitchen — walls, counters, and floors.

Grandma did not speak again until the kitchen was clean from top to bottom. Being wise beyond my years neither did I.

I never saw the churn again and the next day found the old churn in its familiar place. I never asked about the electric churn, but yearned in silence as I pumped the dasher up and down.

— Barbara Morita