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Melissa Beck


This lesson will take students back to the 1930s and to a farm that supplied milk to the Kelch Sanitary Dairy in Dwight, Illinois. The Kelch Dairy was the first in the area to use modern technology to pasteurize milk.

Pasteurization is the process of heating food and beverages to destroy microorganisms that cause spoilage and diseases. This process does not significantly change the taste and appearance of the food or beverage. Pasteurization was named for the French scientist, Louis Pasteur, who first began in the early 1860s to experiment with heating wine and beer for preservation purposes. Federal laws in the United States now require that most egg and milk products undergo pasteurization.

Students will learn how people in the past obtained milk and the technology that was involved in the process, as compared to the technology used today. Through the memoir, Life on a Farm, illustrations, and the Venn diagrams, students will recall some aspects of 1930s farm living and learn how new technology changed it.


1. Students will transcribe and read a memoir.

2. Students will re-create a scene in the memoir by drawing an illustration.

3. Students will complete an artifact worksheet.

4. Students will create two Venn diagrams.

Illinois Learning Standards

15.A. Explain how economic systems determine what goods and services are produced, how they are produced, and who consumes them.

15.C. Describe how entrepreneurs take risks in order to produce goods or services.

15.D. Describe the relationships among specialization, division of labor, productivity of workers and interdependence among producers and consumers.

16.A. Read historical stories and determine events that influenced their writing.

16.A. Ask questions and seek answers by collecting and analyzing data from historic documents, images, and other literary and non-literary sources.

16.C. Describe significant economic events, including the rise of technology, that influenced history from the industrial development era to the present.


I. Read and discuss the memoir, Life on a Farm, early 1930s.

A. Define vocabulary

1. Pasteurization: The process of heating food and beverages to destroy microorganisms that cause disease and spoilage.

2. Dairy farming: A major way of making money in the New England region by using modern technology to milk cows and distributing pasteurized milk to the surrounding areas.

B. Inform students that they will be given a copy of Ogg's memoir (Handout 1). Ogg is a life long resident of the small community of Dwight, Illinois, who lived on a farm for most of her life. Have students carefully read and rewrite the memoir in their own handwriting for full comprehension.

C. Marjorie Ogg tells her story. Divide class into groups of two to three. Pass out copies of the memoir and decide who will be recorder, time-keeper, and reporter. Tell students that if


they have questions, put a question mark next to it. If all students fully participate, mental pictures of scenes should be in their minds from prior understanding of dairy farms.

D. Read Ogg's memoir. Go through each paragraph to check for understanding and answer any questions.


Paragraph 1. Find out when she was born; talk about the members of the family.

Paragraph 2. Review Holstein cows. What is a stanchion (a device that fits loosely around a cow's neck and limits forward and backward movement as in a stall).

Paragraph 3. Describe a cream separator. What is one used for? What technology do dairy farmers use to clean milk today? What does Marjorie Ogg mean by "the Depression?"

Paragraph 4. How did they get the water in the tank? What technology is used today to keep milk cold?

II. Illustrations: Students Visualize the Past

A. Discuss the elements of a story (plot, setting, characters, illustrations) leading to the importance of illustrations for understanding a story with new terms, such as older technology words like stanchion and cream separator.

B. Divide students into pairs and review the memoir. Assign a scene for each pair to draw the picture that exists "in their heads." Examples: One group draws the family portrait. Another draws milking the cows.

C. Give each group 15 minutes to complete the illustrations.

D. Allow volunteers to reread the memoir aloud. This time have the groups show their pictures while reading.

E. Collect the pictures to create a classroom book.


A. Ask students if they thought of similarities or differences between their lives and Ogg's. Share a few.

B. Ask students if they noticed any similarities or differences between dairy farming when Ogg was a girl and dairy farming now.

C. Have students draw a Venn diagram on both sides (Venn diagrams are two circles the same size that overlap in the middle).

1. On the front side, have them write the title, "Being a kid, past and present."

2. On the back side, have them write the title, "Dairy farming, past and present." The focus should be on the technological differences. Examples might include: chores, housing, schooling, family life, transportation, machinery, and tools.


I am Mrs. Beck's 79-year old grandmother. I lived on a farm until I was 36 years old. Then we moved to Dwight. When I was a young girl I helped my Dad because I was the oldest of five children, three girls and two boys. The sisters helped Mother with the housework.

We had five or six Holstein cows, pigs and chickens. Every day, morning and night, I would help milk the cows. They always knew when it was milking because they would come from the pasture, get a drink of water out of the water tank, then go stand near the barn door. Before we let them in we would put ground corn and oats in front of each stanchion, and they always went to their own place. Then we would slip a bar across their neck so they wouldn't leave. Some of the cows would kick so we put a chain around their hind legs so they couldn't kick over the bucket of milk. They were always swishing the flies away with their tails and we might get hit in the head.

When we finished milking the cow, we let it loose to go back outside. After the milking was done we'd run the milk through a cream separator. It was poured in a big bowl and it ran through several disks. That was quite a job to keep it clean. The milk we didn't want was fed to the pigs and chickens. We took what cream we needed for making butter, then took the rest of the cream and eggs from the chickens to the poultry house in town to sell. This was the time of the Depression, so Mother and Dad needed the money.

Then Dad bought six more cows and sold the milk to his uncle Ernest who had the Kelch Dairy. We had to put the milk in five gallon milk cans and put them into a tank of cold water until the milk truck came to pick them up every morning. The windmill pumped water into the tanks.

If I was lucky, I would get to ride on the milk truck to school, if I had my breakfast and was dressed. Otherwise, I walked or roller skated. If there was bad weather, Dad would take me. By this time I had a boyfriend and many times he waited for me to finish my chores before we went on a date.

In the summer time we had a "Dairy Day" picnic in the park. One year I was chosen Dairy Queen because I milked a cow and got the most milk in a certain amount of time.

I kid my brothers that they never had to milk cows because when they were old enough to milk, Dad bought a milking machine. When the Dairy shut down Dad sold all the cows but two plus the milking machine and bought three Angus beef cattle to start a herd. When they reached a certain age they were sold for meat.

In October 1990 my husband and I went on a Caribbean cruise for our 50th anniversary and met a man that delivered the glass milk bottles to the Kelch Dairy. He was from Chicago. Today we look for Kelch milk bottles at flea markets or antique stores and they sell as high as $25.00.


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