Marshall Historical Society

Interview of Conrad Eisenhut
By Janet Dangler, 1987

Conrad Eisenhut farmed for many years on East Hill with his brothers and sons. Mr. Eisenhut was born in Switzerland and came to this country in 1920. He was the county chairman of the Milk for Health campaign in the 1940s and 1950s. The interview took place at his home on Shanley Road when he was 87 years old. He passed away in November, 1994, at the age of 95.

Janet Dangler: How did the Milk Strike in the 1930s personally affect you?

Conrad Eisenhut: I remember we didn't gain much by it! We didn't know what to do with the milk. We had a separator and we separated the milk and kept the cream, and made butter from the cream with the washing machines; that's what we did. This was in June, the strike was; and they had some calves down there only turned out two weeks, I guess. They went down with cans of milk and the little devils wouldn't drink it any more! Everybody wanted to make cheese, but there were no cheese factories around here. P.N. Lewis had one, an old one; and old Charmom Lewinberger was his name — he lived over here in the Stock Farm. He made cheese up there for a while. As much as I remember, the strike lasted three weeks. A lot of milk was wasted; a lot of bad feelings. People throwing the milk; farmers getting stopped and getting into arguments and trouble: no good! Milk strikes are no good; never amount to anything. We tried to form co-ops. Worked pretty good for a while. Now, to me, it seems as if co-ops don't work anymore either. It may have been that the government should keep their hand off the farmers' business, because we don't farm here like in California — can't use the same rules and regulations at all. So I think they should leave things alone. We got 79 cents for milk back then (the 1930s). 79 cents a hundred. Of course, we didn't pay taxes like they do now.

JD: What changes did you notice in your own life over the years?

CE: Well, there were changes in the farming machinery, but things were pretty much done the same way. The change came slowly. I think farmers were better off. We didn't get into debt the way they do now. The change was when the government started giving the farmers so much credit. We took our milk right up in Deansboro. We had tough winters. The seasons change: we get a later spring and a later fall than years ago. We used to sow peas in March. Now you can't sow peas in March — you're lucky you can start sowing them in April! In 1923 on Thanksgiving Day it was 5 degrees below zero and a lot of snow like you see now in January. We got electricity when Roosevelt was president, around 1932. We really appreciated it, I'm telling you. Made everything a lot easier. Years ago, no refrigerators, no freezers. We kept the milk cold in ice houses: every farm had a ice house. We made ice in the wintertime. The ice man would go around with tongs and deliver ice to the houses in chunks.

JD: What did you do for entertainment?

CE: Sing and yodel. My wife played the piano; we had two accordions, a violin. For entertainment we also walked.

Mr. Eisenhut and his wife were gracious hosts and were very welcoming to me.

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