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Churning Butter Was Misery Defined

Kenneth Avery is a Southern humorist with well over a thousand fans. The charm and wit in his writing span a nearly a decade.

Peaceful but tough to master.

Peaceful but tough to master.

Then There Was a Time When . . .

Ever began to talk about a folksy tale about something that you grew up with, but didn't want to resort to research those numerous internet sites? This is what I'm trying. The reason that I want to write it as I see it is because I saw a butter church when I was seven and I thought that this tool was the best invention since gasoline-powered engines. Don't act so prim. Many of you are in agreement with me when you discovered your first butter churn.

That's right. A true-to-lie butter churn. They were cute as the dickens and twice as handy. These items were very-needed in the early days of the southern territory during the breaking-up of land to cultivate and harvest the great produce that God placed on the earth. This was life for many of those honored pioneers and I say this from my heart.

Many folks, unbelievers, scoffers, and mainly, the loafers, began to make light of the farming family who had a butter churn to use when their sweet butter ran low. Everyone who knows anything about the early south will tell you that there is nothing as delicious as a pan of hot, homemade biscuits, homemade sorghum syrup and yes, sweet homemade butter. It's ironic how things work themselves out.

But the fun-makers, scoffers, and loafers began to worry because they did not even own a cow much less a churn to make butter, so the name of this song was, "Who's Sorry Now?" by the late Connie Francis.

And the families who did own a cow and a church plus flour and water to make those great homemade biscuits didn't bother to jon in and kick these troublemakers while they were down, and just minded their own affairs and let the others be. This is mostly how the early southerners believed and worked in a community. But this isn't to imply that they were stingy or self-serving. But the families did made sure that their neighbors didn't go hungry because it was a learning process of learning how to depend on and love each other.

Sweet butter was made by this contraption.

Sweet butter was made by this contraption.

Remember My Statement . . .

I never said that any of the early southerners were not bright. Not in a million years. There were some families (with a church) who quickly knew the what and who about churning and who was going to do the labor. Did everyone churn? No. Many times the mother, the housekeeper, cook, cleaning woman, did her chores and churning. I pity this woman and the same type of women of 2021.

But the number one person who was almost "the" main one who churned. It was the youngest male child if the parents had a younger son and older kids. But the other kids and their parents did a great job of convincing the "Churn Boy," just how honored he should feel at being asked to do such an important job.

Even this situation had to have an ending and the ending was not pretty. Upon the young boy finding-out how that he had been conned into doing a full-week of churning, he was not angry. He was mad. I mean mad dog mad and he was a force to be reckoned. No older siblings were safe. Sometimes the parents were fair game, but at least they had plenty of sweet butter that the famly could eat or use as bartering when they needed potatoes, flour or meal. This was the lifestyle of the early southerners.

This machine is rough-looking, but very sweet.

This machine is rough-looking, but very sweet.

People Who Knew That . . .

The early churn was made of wood. The body of the churn was polished and had a nice gloss for people to admire. This is not to say that a churn was only a piece of furniture, no. A church was as an important as a wood stove. And that meant that whoever had a churcn or two, respected them as if they were gold.

My dad told me a story about his nuece who loved food. Any food. She also had one of the biggest hearts of the family. Plus her disposition was always upbeat and able to laugh at her troubles made her a favorite to join in and talk to those who visited her and her parents when they visited from Pekin, Illinois.

But once, this girl became missing. No one really thought that much about it because she was almost 17 and could take care of herself, so no one did any searching. In an hour and a half, my dad was growing worried about where she was. But he volunteered to go and find her. Sure enough he found her in the most-peculiar way. She was sitting in a straight chair with a box of saltine crackers in her lap and was dipping each cracker into my grandma's churn where the sweet butter had been made, but not stored. This girl was beyond happy.

The saddest thing about those last thoughts is you can hardly find anyone in 2021, even in rural America, who joined other neighbors to sit on their porch and talk way into the night. Not today. Life has grown super-busy. And the young people of today wouldn't care sit in a char and eat sweet butter right out of the churcn.
No. We will never get this sad again.

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© 2021 Kenneth Avery

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