Tag Archives: food

The Importance of Cows

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By Casera

When people first moved to Joplin to mine, they brought with them animals. Many of these animals were cows. The cows were used for milk and meat. The farmers were in charge of keeping track of the animals and getting meat and dairy products to the miners. The farmers  would have to find a water source, a barn, and a field for their cows.

The average day for a Joplin farmer would begin bright and early when he would milk the cow. He had to sit on a stool and place a pail under the cow to catch the milk. Then he would grab and pull the cow’s udder. The milk would squirt out, and once he had emptied out the cow’s milk sac, he would move on to the next cow. The milk would then be taken back to his house and used for making cheese, making butter, cooking, and for drinking.

Next, the farmer had to take the cows down to the water. Sometimes they would drink out of a trough and sometimes from a spring or another body of water. “My job was to lead all the cows down to the spring after school,” said Delores Johnson, a longtime area resident who grew up on a Joplin farm.  She explained her daily chores to me. “After I did that, my parents would take them to the field and let them graze. The cows would stay there for the whole day. At night my parents would take the cows back to their barn.” This process was repeated daily.

Cows were an important part of a Joplin resident’s life. They were vital for milk and meat. Even though Joplin started as a mining town, the city may not have been as successful without cows and farmers. They provided the necessary food to the miners and their families helping Joplin to become the boom town it was and the city it is.

Joplin, Missouri: Then and Now

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Joplin has changed tremendously in the past 90 years. There are obvious differences in the style of clothes, the type of food,
and the norms of society.

Ninety-one year old Bettye Foust, who now lives at Spring River Christian Village Nursing Home, was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. When she was a kid she lived in a small home with three brothers and sisters. Helping out around the house and with the preparation of food wasn’t mandatory for them, but they did pitch in every once in awhile.

“Back then, kids didn’t really help out too much; we definitely didn’t help out as much as we should have. When we did, though, it was always fun,” said Foust.

Foust attended high school at the old Memorial High School where Joplin High School’s ninth and tenth center is now located. School was very different back then, as everything was done on paper or a black board. Now, Joplin High School students use  laptops and Smart Boards.

"Historic Joplin." Historic Joplin RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

“Historic Joplin.” Historic Joplin RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

As was common in the 1920s, Foust’s clothes were made by her mother most of the time. She wore cotton dresses that went down to about mid-calf. Pants were not allowed for women at the time.  Although her family did not have a farm, they did have one dairy cow that provided milk for their family, and sometimes for the neighbors. Foust’s daily diet was mainly starches; she had tomatoes and potatoes that her family grew in their garden. Meat, when they had it, was a luxury. Only the richer families could afford to have meat for dinner.

“We only had meat a couple of times, from what I can remember, but when we did, I savored every last bite of it,” said Foust.

Downtown Joplin in the late 20s was the place to be on the weekends. Not only was every business located there, but there were frequent festivals and parades.

“There was always something going on, on a Friday or Saturday. It would be packed with so many people. Sometimes it felt like all

MorgueFile Free Photo.” IMG_9727-lt.jpg. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

of Joplin was there. It was definitely the place to hangout,” recalled Foust.

Every summer around May, Joplin would have a huge festival that just about everyone would attend. There were tons of food to eat and numerous activities to participate in. The activities brought people from anywhere around Joplin who would come to join in the fun. Foust recalls that one year there was even a ferris wheel that, at the time, was the biggest one in the US.

Joplin sure seemed the place to be in the late 1920s. It has grown in many ways and one can assume it will continue to grow.

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