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Country Kitchen: 1936

Country Kitchen: 1936

December 1936. "Farmer's wife churning butter. Emmet County, Iowa." Medium-format nitrate negative by Russell Lee. View full size.


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No city gal, she!

Turn snap latches, Flour bin drawers, Ball jars, pie safe, cream separator and chicken fresh eggs, yep, she's a farm gal. We only 'upgraded' from these antique amenities in the 70's, Smashing the old 9 inch plate Kalamazoo side heater and bun and plate warmer wood stove while I was away in service and unable to protest. I didn't have the heart to tell my old Dad that those stoves now sold for several thousand dollars on the antique market.

Oh that floor

I remember relatives having similar linoleum. It was the most bilious shade of green imaginable.

Not fun!

When we made butter, it was with a regular churn. Mom didn't do the churning-we had to do it. Our arms would get so tired. We used to pretend we were making ice cream, but that only helped a little bit.


This picture is also a tribute to the quality of lumber available at that time. You can't find wood that nice any more!

Butter WWII

When butter was rationed, we made it from cream (when we could get it).

Gas Washing Machine

Wow, good eye, Ron! I never knew such a thing existed. The video demo is fascinating. It's a noisy piece of machinery!

Like Butter

When I was in elementary school, and also a Brownie (junior Girl Scout), we made butter by shaking cream in a jar. This was a common lesson at the time. I know I'm not all that old; do they really not do things like this any more, or are the Shorpy people just unaware of it? I know I'll be making sure my granddaughter gets to do stuff like this when she gets a little older (she's only 18 months at the moment).

Country Kitchen 1936

There are parts of a cream separator, the tank and a milk strainer also a bit of the tinware. However I believe it is all sitting up on a washing machine, the vertical flexible pipe looks like the exhaust for the gasoline motor. The wringer control can be seen under the muffler. It could be a Maytag washer.


I have a friend who is a chef; at a family gathering he took some leftover heavy cream for whipping and demonstrated to the young folks how if you whisked if long enough, bits of butter began to appear. They were amazed.

Butter 'n Egg Money

That mechanical churn looks like it has cranked out hundreds of pounds of butter. Many farm women supplemented the family income by selling fresh eggs and butter.

The items in this farm kitchen would bring a hefty price in today's antique market. The table with the two bins was designed to hold flour and corn meal. The tin "pie safe" on top was used to store bread and other baked goods. Several interesting crockery pieces and canning jars. I don't recognize that mechanical contraption behind her.

[ That's a cream separator. Similar to the one here.- Dave]


I was also thinking what beautiful cabinetry they have. Great photo!


This farm family must have been relatively successful. Those kitchen cabinets were pretty rare in those days, especially on farms. And that wall behind her is a look that many folks are wanting today. The chickens must eat well, too.

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