Archive for Thursday, August 4, 2005

Working at the Old Cheese Plant

August 4, 2005

Milk Producers Marketing Co., known to locals as The Old Cheese Plant, was located in the Fairfax District in Kansas City, Kan.

The two people who started it were Landy Ingram, from Wyandotte County, and E. Augustine, who came to this country from Belgium.

In the early 1930s there was no market for the small farmers to sell their milk, so these two men held a meeting of farmers, mainly from Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties, to form a co-op. There was little money, so with used equipment they started this business to help the local farmers have a place to sell their milk. Many of the members of the co-op's board of directors were from Leavenworth County.

These were all "milk can" routes at that time and some producers had as little as two gallons of milk in their cans. For some producers, the co-op provided their sole income. The farmers were paid according to the percentage of butterfat. A composite sample was made daily and tested once a month.

In the 1940s, this business was a source of income for many of my Lansing High School friends, and at our recent class reunion I counted six of the 11 that worked there at one time. It was good to see Joe Mondero, Bill Wenzel, Bernard Carter, Clarence Huycke and Sherman Yunghans. I was the only one of the 11 that stayed with the company until retirement.

It was a C Grade operation, and turned all the surplus milk from the greater Kansas City area into cheese and powdered milk. Much of the powdered milk was produced during World War II. It was put into 225-pound barrels.

In 1950 the Grade A department was started, and we started packaging milk for 11 other dairies. The Grade C operation faded out and we entered a new era and built a new plant in 1966 in Lawrence. We operated with the All Star Dairy label. There were 110 All Star Dairies in the country.

I started at age 15 and retired after 32 years, processing millions of pounds of milk, but I never milked a cow in my life.

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