Memories from a Mason jar

By Rick Houser – 

A few days ago I observed something that I have been overlooking for a long time. Maybe this is also something that you observe. For some reason I happened to notice a green Mason jar that has been resting on the hutch in our kitchen. For some reason I noticed it and thought to myself that the mason jar has been sitting there for I have no idea how long, but now that I am looking at it I recall my wife and my mother both having canned green beans in the years past.
Then I thought to myself about how many times had I walked past that jar without noticing? Probably over a thousand times, but tonight I noticed. How odd? Then looking around the kitchen I saw a small crock. It too has been in our home for years, but all of a sudden I see it and remember Mom storing rock salt in it many years before.
With these observations and thoughts I began to walk around our home and I saw vases and photos that we have accumulated over the past 40 plus years. If a person stops and notices, all of these items serve as a reminder of the time when we obtained each one. Maybe we didn’t collect these items on purpose, but we placed them in a spot where they have now become pretty much permanent.
I came to a halt after I looked at the top of the hutch and there next to the Mason jar sat a glass crank butter churn. When I saw the churn, I stopped and said to myself, “Oh my there is Mom’s old butter churn.” It is an item that I seldom notice but to be truthful, I do recall Mom churning butter many years before when I was growing up on Fruit Ridge Road. We had dairy cows and Mom kept some of the milk so that she could run it through a device called a separator and it would separate the cream from the fresh milk and fill the churn along with some salt and a few other ingredients and then she’d turn the crank that rotated the four paddles that were inside.
I can tell you that Mom did a lot of cranking of that churn and I know this because I begged her to let me crank and she would let me. Cranking the churn began as an easy job, but it took time and as you cranked it the more the cream was turning to butter and the harder it was to turn the crank (same principle as the ice cream maker).
As it got harder to crank, I would begin to tell Mom that she needed to take over again. She would agree but then she would always tell me she had a couple of things to do first. “Just keep cranking and I will be right there,” she would say. I now understand that my Mom was going to get the most work out of me that she could. At the time I didn’t think my Mom would trick me like that, but I think I was wrong.
Mom would finally finish the cranking and remove the butter from the churn and form it into a ball shape and center it on a butter dish. Just like homemade ice cream, homemade butter tasted out of this world and spread over a slice of fresh baked bread the treat was one that I still remember to this day. The interesting thing is all this has come back to my memory just by that one glance of an old crank butter churn. For many years the churn held my Dad’s old marbles that he had collected and now it just sits on the hutch and even has one of the four paddles missing.
Its condition doesn’t really mean that much, just it still being around is all that matters.
I think it’s safe to say that most folks see items in their homes and have a flashback from time to time. We all like to reflect back on our lives and the items still around us. Our lives are built on memories and with every year we add to our lives, we accumulate more. I see nothing very wrong with looking back, especially since I also enjoy looking forward.
The other observation is that we have plenty items that we have acquired over the years since we have been married and I have to admit we have accumulated more than our fair share. I watch American Pickers a lot. I watch to see if the places where they go have any of the items we might have and if they try to buy an item I listen to see what the value is. So far I haven’t seen any of our items on their show that would be of any great value. To me our items just bring me great value in memories.
Near where I sit and write I see an old wood plane that was my great grandfather’s and the aerial photo of our farm on Fruit Ridge. But on my file cabinet is a photo of my brother Ben on the last green at a golf course.
Ben is gone now but I can look at him and smile, because of course the memories flow from the picture. This is how most all of us are designed and how we react to an item that is close to us. It is a good response to have. So I will keep remembering, escpecially how good that homemade butter tasted.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories from his past and other topics. If you would like to see more of his stories he has to books for sale; “There Are Places I Remember’ and Memories ARE from the Heart”. He may be reached at