Hidden gems in 1926 essay by 12-year-old

‘We used to think if milk looked clean, it was alright’

Farm and Dairy archives

If I ever hit the Powerball lottery (which would require me to play the lottery, which I don’t), there are a lot of ways I would spend my money. But the ag journalist in me would put this item on the top of the wish list: Digitize the Farm and Dairy archives.

Most of you know we celebrated our 100th anniversary in 2014. We have every single issue published since 1914, and they are a treasure trove of history as seen through rural eyes. How I wish these delicate pages were captured for all to read online!

Looking through a 1926 issue for our “Read It Again” feature, for example, I spied something that was just too good not to share (but then, I could say that about a lot in these archives).

On the front page of the Feb. 12, 1926, issue was an article about an essay contest coordinated by the Pittsburgh District Dairy Council. The contest for the best essay on “quality milk” was open to farm youth in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia, and the prize was a $150 collegiate scholarship.

Judges couldn’t “decide which essay was the most meritorious,” so the donor of the prize, Dr. W.T. Hulscher, of the Purity Stamping Company of Battle Creek, Michigan (maker of the “Dr. Clark’s Purity Milk Strainer”), announced he would double the grand prize and two winners would be named. Twelve-year-old Raymond Slutz, of Salem, Ohio, and 15-year-old Bernadette Gowday, of Jefferson, Ohio, edged 100 contestants to win the contest.

The best part, however, was that Farm and Dairy printed Slutz’s winning essay. Although I can’t digitize our archives, I can at least share his wonderful essay, and the message that little things matter when it comes to improving milk quality. Enjoy!

• • •

Dear City Cousin:

You sure would be surprised if you could see how Dad has changed things around here. But as you can’t come, I’ll do the best I can to tell about what you wanted to know.

You see, we used to think that if milk looked clean, it was alright. Then Dad found out about bacteria and how milk that seemed to be OK wasn’t fit for use, he just made things hum around here for a few days. He said his milk should be as clean as the best or he’d know the reason why.

First, we cleaned the barn from top to bottom. Every cobweb was swept down and all the old rubbish taken out and burned. That was a dandy bonfire, I’m telling you.

Then we put in concrete floors and whitewashed all the walls and stanchions. We put in a couple more windows so the cows could have more light.

Then we were ready to begin on the cows. All their udders and flanks were trimmed and every cow was made as clean as possible. Dad said it would be my job to see that they were kept that way. I have to see that they have clean bedding and all loose dirt brushed off before each milking. If there happens to be any dirt that won’t brush off, I have to wash it off. It doesn’t take long if I get right after it, and the cows sure do look dandy.

Next, Dad sees that his hands and clothes are clean. He had always milked with dry hands, so he was alright there.

Then he takes the milk out of the stable as soon as it is milked and cools it to about 50 degrees. After that, it is put on the stand in a nice, shady place, covered, of course, so no dust or dirt can get in the can, and then the hauler takes it to the station.

I’ve told you about Dad’s and my jobs and almost forgot to tell what Mother and the girls have to do with keeping our bacteria count low. The pails, cans, strainers and milk house are theirs to look after. Clean milk put in a dirty pail or kept in a dirty place won’t stay clean. So they keep all the milking utensils bright and shiny. They also keep our milk room nice and clean.

Our milk now grades with the best and you can see that it hasn’t cost Dad much to put our milk in first-class shape. A little cement, lime and a couple of windows was about all he had to buy. The other things we did ourselves and what we have done, others can do.

My letter is rather long, but we are all so interested in this clean milk proposition that I can hardly quit writing. Come out next summer, then you can see for yourself.

Your Country Cousin,
Raymond Slutz

1926 Farm and Dairy masthead


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