This is my great-grandmother Viola Tennison Bailey‘s butter paddle. Rather than use a churn, she made butter in a big, wooden bowl. I’m not sure where the bowl is. I never had it. Perhaps Dad does. In any case, using this, Great-grandmother would turn and turn and turn and whip and whip and whip the cream until the butter came together and rose to the top. Sounds like a lot of work to me!
My grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, told me that there were some approved alternate uses for the butter paddle as well and that it got pretty regular use across the family.
Susan was the youngest of ten children born to Viola and Charles Council Bailey. Viola and Charles were married in 1895 and lived most of their lives in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas. They had their first son, Carl Everett Bailey, in 1896. I’ll talk more about them and him in later blogs; there’s lots to tell there. By the time Susan was born in 1919, Viola had been raising children for twenty-five years – eight boys and two girls. Her oldest had already gone off to war, come back, and died. Two more sons had died as children or infants. Not too long after Susan was born, her older sister started having kids of her own. Some of those kids where quite the characters and I am sure got into all kinds of trouble.
That’s where the butter paddle comes in.
Grandmother told me that her mom used it not only to make the family butter but also used it on some family butts! She said that this was one of her preferred discipline tools. Now, seeing this angelic child, can you ever imagine her being in any sort of mischief or needing to be disciplined in any way at all? Hard to imagine!
This is one of the classic pictures of my grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, along with her cow, Blossom. It’s not often that you see a dirtier child than this. But out of that dirt grew one of the finest women I have ever met. She and Granddad were married for sixty-six years and every bit as smitten with each other when they died as when they met. But, that’s a story for another day.