Grandpa had a Windmill, Grandma had a Churn

Book, Family, History, Places, Work

Grandpa had a Windmill, Grandma had a Churn

By: Louise A. Jackson & George Ancona
Publisher: Parents’ Magazine Press, 1977
Age Level: All ages
Language: English
ISBN: 0819308722


On a magic carpet of memory, Louise Jackson carries the young reader back in time to that simpler world she knew as a child growing up in rural Texas during the 1940’s. Her vivid reminiscences provide a please akin to discovering an old patchwork quilt, or coming upon great grandfather’s long-lost packet watch and chain. 

The small girl of her tale stands at the bottom of a giant windmill, looking up in awe at the whirring blades. She is captivated by the glass-bodied churn that miraculously transforms think cream into butter while her grandmother sings a quaint song, “Come Butter, Come.” And she shares with today’s child the delights of grandpa’s whetstone and the mystery of grandma’s cellar full of preserves and “the smell of dark rye bread.”

Gifted photographer George Ancona visited Austin, Texas, to capture the very places and things Mrs. Jackson writes about so evocatively. Together, author and photographer have succeeded in recreating cherished bits of a particular American past.




“The author’s first-person memories of rural Texas in the 1940s (it looks earlier), with a photo-illustrated paragraph/double-page recalling each object or device possessed by her grandparents. Grandpa’s whetstone, corn crib, and chopping block alternate with Grandma’s thimble, quilting frame, and food storage cellar. (“”I didn’t go down the steps by myself. I just went down with Grandma.””) But their life wasn’t all work: Grandpa also had goldfish and Grandma her guineas, which she kept “”just because I like to have them around the place. That’s reason enough.”” And at the end there is Grandpa’s fiddle which he plays at night while Grandma plays her piano. The little girl is with them there and in other pictures, and Jackson works in references to her own experience with every object described–a device that she never allows to become mechanical. Similarly, her descriptions of her grandparents at their work unobtrusively explains how each object functions, without resorting to direct exposition. With Ancoma’s expert photos–at the same time sharp for clarity and soft for memory–it’s a surprisingly well-executed and unsentimental contribution to the nostalgia shelf.”

Kirkus Reviews