Do you remember having milk delivered to the door of your home? Most milk bought at local grocery stores came from Dairy Brand or Meadow Gold, or one of the other commercial dairies. But Norris City also had small family-owned dairies that delivered milk to local households. Some of the commercial dairies also made home deliveries.
Frank Black and Hal Norris had dairies, and they bottled and delivered milk in Norris City. Frank and Hal had glass bottles with their names on them. I have some bottles from both of them in my collection.
My parents, Charles and Veda Oliver, also owned and operated a dairy when I was growing up, and I had chores to do in the operation. We did not have glass bottles with our name on them. We just used whatever bottles were returned to us by our customers. Cardboard stoppers were put in the top of the bottles to seal them. The milk was strained through a paper filter. It was whole milk, not pasteurized, and the cream would rise to the top of the bottles. People who bought our milk would often skim off part of the cream to use in their coffee or for making whipped cream.
We had Jersey and Guernsey dairy cows; their milk has high butterfat content. Sometimes we would have a Holstein cow. Holsteins produced more milk, but had a lower butterfat content.
Our dairy farm was about 2½ miles south of Norris City. We usually had someone living in the house there to help, since we also had hogs, chickens and some beef cattle, either Black Angus or Hereford.
In the winter, we would keep some dairy cows in town at a barn behind our house in the west part of Norris City, or at a nearby location, so we could continue to supply milk to our customers when the weather was bad.
We had one-half-pound and one-pound wooden butter molds that made designs on the top of the butter. One of my jobs was to turn the crank on the Daisy Churn to churn the butter. Later, Dad bought an electric motor to churn the butter. I still have the Daisy Churn and the butter molds. They bring back memories.
I had a milk route on the west side of Norris City and I delivered milk, butter, and eggs every day when we returned to town after finishing our evening chores. I made a two-wheel wooden pushcart with sections in it (like a wooden soda pop case for glass pop bottles) to put the milk bottles in and a section for the butter and for the eggs.
Another one of my chores was to put the hay down from the barn loft into the mangers for the dairy cows. At one edge of the barn loft, there were openings to drop the hay down into the milking stalls for the cows. I also mixed their feed and fed them while Dad and Mom did the milking by hand. We would buy some commercial feed and had corn ground at the feed mill. We would have three or four barrels with different feeds in them and I would scoop out quantities from each to make the feed mixture. In the winter, when the cows couldn’t get as much grass from the pasture, I would add some sorghum molasses to the feed mixture. We got the sorghum molasses from “Molasses” Bill Hill who had a sorghum mill east of Norris City that was turned by one horse.
Dad and Mom operated the dairy from about 1940 until 1955. As I mentioned earlier, I had my assigned chores, but I liked to slip off when I could to fish for catfish in the farm pond or, like most kids, to get into some kind of mischief.
Dad and Mom had a Jersey dairy cow that they kept for a long time because she was a good milk producer. She had long horns and she was gentle. When I was young, I liked to go out in the pasture and I would hold onto her horns and ride her around like she was a horse. When I got caught, Dad would get onto me and say that I was going to ruin his “best milk cow.”
Well, the days of milk home delivery in Norris City are long gone now and milk at the store is now all pasteurized. These days you can’t have a dairy and sell raw whole milk. I still like the old whole milk, even though I now drink 2% milk. Mom used to make the best Butter Pie with butter churned from that whole milk.
If anyone has a story to tell about early times in Norris City, please contact me and I will share it with readers of these articles. Please contact me at Edward Oliver, P O Box 456, Norris City, IL 62869 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.