Making cheese in Snowflake

While William was on the road as a fourteen-year-old hitching, walking, and riding trains from place to place in the Southwest, he found himself in Arizona in the eastern portion of the state about midway between Utah and the Mexican border.

Near Snowflake, I saw that someone was advertising for work on a dairy. However, the dairy owner and I ran into a religious conflict. I soon learned that everyone in town was Mormon. The dairy owner was a Mormon elder and insisted that I go to the Mormon church, attend seminary, and learn the Book of Mormon. I put up with that for a very short time and then told him thanks but no thanks.

Next I found work with a lady in Snowflake who’d lost her husband. She was a great pie-maker and sold pies all around town. She also made delicious cheese. I still remember that cheese hanging in various locations around her backyard while it was being squeezed down.

The woman boiled milk, added rennet, and made a concoction that curded up. Then she drained off the whey. Next the cheese went into a sack that allowed her to squeeze out more whey.

In the backyard, the widow’s husband had put up posts scattered about with round wooden containers mounted on top. The containers are what created the cheese’s wheel shape. They were comprised of upright slats that allowed more whey to drain off. A wooden disc was placed on each wheel of cheese, and a horizontal pole was mounted over each container and weighted down with a rock so that it could squeeze down the cheese further, getting rid of whey.

After the cheese was dry enough, the widow wrapped the cheese in cheesecloth and stored it in her house until she decided it was ready. I think she called it farmer’s cheese, and thanks to her, I like that kind of cheese to this day.

Meanwhile, at the same time as she was producing cheese, this good lady baked all kinds of pies…apple, quince, berry, mince. I stayed with her for several months and helped her with all of her tasks, but once the cheeses were made and all set up, there wasn’t that much for me to do.

The widow also required me to attend seminary, like the dairy man before her. This was like attending Sunday school, and I didn’t enjoy it. I avoided this whenever I could and attended grudgingly. If I hadn’t attended, though, neither person would have employed me. I stayed a lot longer with the widow because she was kind and she made delicious food.