Works in the Herald 1933

A London expert has declared recently that, to enhance the milk supply, cows should be treated to lively ditties at milking-time. Mournful tunes, on the other hand, are harmful.

Light and airy, at the dairy -- light and airy as a zephyr, trilled the little milkmaid Mary singing to a spotted heifer. And the milk, smooth as silk, in a constant copious stream, came a-rushing, came a-gushing, rich in butter-fat and cream. Light and airy lilted Mary -- light and airy as a feather, and the cows stooped to browse all contentedly together. Spot and Bossy, Bess and Flossie, munching, crunching bran and chaff, chewed and chewed in placid mood, while all nature seemed to laugh. "Swish, swish" -- every dish, every pail and every bucket soon was laden as the maiden 'twixt her pretty shoon would tuck it; singing, "Merry, merry, merry; fol-de-rol and down-a-derry." pretty Mary at the dairy lilted lightly for a living. And each cow, contented now went on giving, giving, giving.

Change the scene ... Grossly mean was the dairyman, and greedy; harsh to beauty, scamping duty; harsh to humble folk and needy. Harsh to Mary. From the dairy now he sacked her, raining curses. Said her singing fees were bring him to monet'ry reverses. Passed her pail to a male, whiskery and unmelodious, loutish, leery, slightly beery, swart and absolutely odious. Harsh, harsh the black mustarsh pressed against the velvet heifer. Harsh, too, the breath he blew; utterly unlike a zephyr. Spot and Bossy, Bess and Flossie turned to gaze and sighed for Mary lilting lightly, sweet and sprightly -- lightly lilting as a fairy. Drab and drear the atmosphere, mute the music at the dairy...."Efficiency my watchword be!" cried the boss; and bought in town a gramophone of raucous tone, on time-payment -- ten bob down. Sub. for Mary at the dairy, now he set it (after tuning) pressed the knob and, with a sob, lo -- a crooner started crooning.

Sour! Sour the pearly shower, dashing splashing in the bucket; gushing hourly yet more sourly, till the milkman had to chuck it. Low in fat the latest issue; for the cows, no longer placid, changed its substance, turned its tissue into awful-looking acid.... The whiskery oaf, content to loaf, muttered dully, "Nothin' doin'." From that hour, turned also sour, the dairyman faced utter ruin.

Little Mary, from the dairy, in a beauty parlor started. Crowds, that drifted to have lifted faces, vowed her golden-hearted. Soon a noodle, dripping boodle, sought her milking hand in marriage.... To the weeding see them heading in a stream-lined motor carriage. Pretty Mary, from the dairy, now to social heights is winging; yet, to her credit -- scribes have said it -- rich or poor, she goes on singing....But, ah, the picture -- that no stricture, no embargo ere may banish -- with precision I envision, fadeless, never to evanish: Milkmaid Mary, at the dairy, lilting lightly as a zephyr -- "Merry, merry; down-a-derry" -- singing to a spotted heifer.

Herald, 27 October 1933, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002