I Think I’m in Trouble

My wife today brought me a story from Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with what we’d just been discussing.  Couldn’t have. 🙂

The Old Dash Churn
September 1916

“All the world is queer, except for thee and me,” said the old Quaker to his wife, “and sometimes I think thee is a little queer.”

The Man of the Place once bought me a patent churn.  “Now,” said he, “throw away that old dash church.  This churn will bring the butter in three minutes.”  It was very kind of him.  He had bought the churn to please me and to lighten my work, but I looked upon it with a little suspicion.

There was only one handle to turn and opposite it was a place to attach the power from a small engine.  We had no engine, so the churning needed to be done with one hand while the other steadied the churn and held it down.  It was hard to do, but the butter did come quickly:  and I would have used it anyway because the Man of the Place had been so kind.

The tin paddles which worked the cream were sharp on the edges, and they were attached to the shaft by a screw which was supposed to be loosened to remove the paddles for washing;  but I could never loosen it and usually cut my hands on the sharp tin.  However, I used the new churn, one hand holding it down to the floor with grim resolution, while the other turned the handle with the strength of despair as the cream thickened.  Finally, it seemed that I could use it no longer.  “I wish you would bring in my old dash church,” I said to the Man of the Place.  “I believe it is easier to use than this after all.”

“Oh!” said he, “you can churn in three minutes with this, and the old one takes half a day.  Put one end of a board on the churn and the other on a chair and sit on the board, then you can hold the churn down easily!”  And so when I churned I sat on a board in the correct mode for horseback riding and though the churn bucked some, I managed to hold my seat.

“I wish,” said I to the Man of the Place, “you would bring in my old dash churn.  (It was where I could not get to it.)  I cut my hands on these paddles every time I wash them.”

“Oh, pshaw!” said he, “you can churn with this churn in three minutes–“

One day when the churn had been particularly annoying and had cut my hand badly, I took the mechanism of the churn — handle, shaft, wheels, and paddles all attached — to the side door which is quite high from the ground and threw it as far as I could.  It struck on the handle, rebounded, landed on the paddles, crumpled and lay still — and I went out and kicked it before I picked it up.  The handle was broken off, the shaft was bent, and the paddles were a wreck.

“I wish,” I remarked casually to the Man of the Place, “that you would bring in my old dash churn.  I want to churn this morning.”

“Oh, use the churn you have,” said he.  “You can churn in three minutes with it.  What’s the use to spend half a day–“

“I can’t,” I interrupted.  “It’s broken.”

“Why, how did that happen?” he asked.

“I dropped it — just as far as I could,” I answered in a small voice, and he replied regretfully, “I wish I had known that you did not want to use it.  I would like to have the wheels and shaft, but they’re ruined now.”

As the old Quaker remarked to his wife, “Sometimes I think thee is a little queer.”


So I might not always pick up on clues as well as I could.  I’m sure she just thought the story was amusing, and there was no other thought behind it. 🙂

Nevertheless, I think I need to somehow find a way to get the garage clean before too long.  I wouldn’t want to tempt someone to drop its contents — as far as she can.  After all, I think there’s at least one wheel or shaft in all that junk that I’d like to have.

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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