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Kitchen Kollectibles: Molding a Memory of Farm Life

July 14th, 2009 · 4 Comments

by Scott Simmons, columnist

scott

Scott Simmons

My great-grandmother, Lilla Chason Griffin, was a practical woman.

Granny, born in 1888, made her own mops from cornhusks, and brooms from the broomstraw that grew along the roadsides. She matched her feed and flour sacks to fabric she already had to make dresses, aprons and such.

Chason sisters young_edited-1

Lilla Chason Griffin (left) and Lizzie Chason Thompson as teenagers

It wasn’t easy living on the farm in south Georgia. She might’ve already collected eggs and milked a cow or two before breakfast. Evenings would find her sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of her dogtrot farmhouse shelling butter beans or field peas, all the while gossiping with her twin sister, Lizzie, who lived just up the road.

And if her hands weren’t busy doing that, they would have been holding a jar of cream.

Homemade butter churn

Granny didn’t have a churn. Instead, she rocked back and forth, gently shaking a Mason or Ball jar full of cream until it turned to butter.

Once the cream had thickened, she would have salted the butter and spooned it into this mold, patented in 1950 by T.R. Hall of Burlington, N.C.:

butter-mold

The company’s claim to fame: The wing handle made it easy to turn the butter from the mold, and the striped pattern on the inside of the plunger kept the butter from sticking to the plunger.

Vintage – not antique

Chason twins on their 87th birthday

Chason twins on their 87th birthday

I always had imagined the mold hailed from the early days of aluminum kitchenware, in the 1920s and ’30s, so I was surprised when I learned it was made after 1950.

Granny’s daughter, my grandmother Dorothy, always had the mold proudly displayed on a bookcase, as though it were some treasured artifact. Internet searches find them priced around $20.

It’s not ancient, but what a treasure it is! One look at the mold, and I hear the creak of a rocker and get a hankering for cornbread slathered with homemade butter.

***

Scott Simmons is a South Florida writer whose passion is antique china and glassware. He has written about collectibles for more than 10 years as The Palm Beach Post’s “Look What We Found” columnist. His Kitchen Kollectibles column highlights food and dining ephemera. Write him at scott.simmons.writer@gmail.com.

Tags: Food and Family Intertwine · Kitchen Kollectibles: Scott Simmons on vintage items

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Charles Keefer // Jul 14, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I, too, am surprised the patent was 1950. I would have expected earlier. But I have just returned from a trip where I found museums displaying things from 1950.

    Actually, I could see myself behind a sheet of plexi-glass in one of those museums except for the fact that I’m still walking. My patent was 1949.

    The caption? “Here is what was known as a newspaper journalist. They chopped down trees to make paper and ground up earth for ink and still couldn’t keep Ronald Reagan out of the White House even after Richard Nixon.”

    And a tip of the hat to the iPod generation. May you never need another Bob Dylan.

  • 2 Scott Simmons // Jul 15, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Awww, we’re all museum pieces in our own special ways. Always scary when we see “vintage” pieces that are newer than we are. — Scott

  • 3 mutfak dolabi // Feb 8, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I have read all the articles. Very useful information was written. Thanks

  • 4 David // Jun 19, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I have one of these similar to this one…it does not have the “locking” top, it has a round rod on the press part with a star design on the press. Can anyone tell me anything about it? I found it in some estate stuff of my father’s…….
    Thanks!

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