Early milk delivery time came right from the cow

Published 5:30 am Sunday, May 21, 2023

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Growing up in the country we never knew what it was like to have a milk man to deliver milk in bottles on the doorstep each morning as the city kids apparently did and as we read about in books.

          What we did have was a milk cow and a mother who milked the cow and delivered it each morning to the ice box after a little work.

          The cow’s name was Reddy. I don’t recall ever having another cow, but we may have. That was a very long time ago, but we all remember Reddy.

          Reddy wouldn’t let anybody milk her but Mama and I’m sure my mother’s innate gentleness had something to do with it. However, Mama was also very particular about cleanliness for any type of food. She trusted nobody else to keep the milk clean. 

          She had a thin white cloth used only to strain the milk, usually into big crock bowls. The cloth was immediately washed and hung out to dry. When the bowls were full, she would pour the rest into individual glasses. It was so good to come in hot and thirsty from playing and instead of water, drink a glass of cold milk. I can almost taste the cream on top. It was so good!

          For a special treat she would make what we called “raw egg”. An egg was beaten and added to the glass of milk, along with sugar and vanilla flavoring. The little particles of egg yolk mixed with the cream, sugar and vanilla would rise to the top and oh, so delicious. An old-fashioned version of egg nog without the potent “nog”!

          Most of the cream was skimmed from the bowls and used to make butter. She would put it in a quart jar with a tight lid and hand it to one of us to make the butter. Some had churns, but we rocked the cream in canning jars.

          As we shook and turned the jar this way and that, the little butter particles would appear and start to come together. When gathered in one large lump, she would take it out and move it around in a bowl to get all the milk out; then lightly wash it with a little water and drain well. Then it was ready for the butter mold.

          After molding, it was put in the ice box to get cold and harden. The butter would come out of the mold with a little daisy design on top. The wooden mold had belonged to my grandmother. 

          There was no such thing as margarine in those early days. Later on, I do remember the first margarine we had. It was packaged in a cellophane bag, was white and had a round tablet of yellow-orange coloring in the center. The object was to squeeze the package to release the tablet around to color the white substance, which for all intents and purposes was a fat similar to white lard. It was something new but didn’t compare to butter. Still doesn’t in my opinion.

          We have all continued to drink milk all our lives and we all have strong bones in our so-called golden ages. For some strange reason milk drinking didn’t do the same for our teeth. I guess that has to come from DNA. Mama didn’t drink milk at all. She never had a taste for it.

          This backward glance was brought about by someone talking about hand-milking a cow and how pleased he was that his wife was making butter the old-fashioned way. 

          This jogged a memory and looking back was very good! 

Retired as Associate News Editor, Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column for The Daily News. You can email her at bobann70@att.net.