The Milk Bank

Logistics and communications location

Until the sixties and seventies of the last century, our village was still very agricultural. There were many cows in the stables of the farmers for milk production.

They were milked every evening and every morning, partly still by hand. Electric milking machines were just beginning to conquer the stables at that time.

After milking, the milk was poured into large milk churns. Then an almost ritual village event began. The milk cans were carried to the "milk bank" in the village.

"Milk banks" were special, raised wooden benches where the milk cans were placed to be collected and transported to the next dairy. In the beginning, this was done early in the morning, in all wind and weather, with a horse and cart in front of an open trailer. In the late afternoon, the horse and cart would return and deliver the empty milk cans, usually with a clatter. Later, the collection was done by the "milk car".

But the "milk banks" were also a part of everyday village life. They were the "village newspaper" and also the "meeting place". While the women and men waited at the milk bank for the milk truck to come, there was of course a lot to talk about - the latest gossip, but also general village events were discussed here.

Communication meeting place and resting place

Pohlheim (ger). A milk bank, which in earlier times could be found as a matter of course along main roads, has enriched the fountain square in Watzenborn-Steinberg since last weekend.

Singers of the Gesangverein Sängerkranz Watzenborn-Steinberg around construction manager Ronald Wehrum had been industrious as craftsmen and thus not only created a new resting place. It is also a reminder of the old tradition of this communication meeting place at the former milk collection stations. This is where people used to meet and chat and get the latest information about village life, Wehrum remembers from his youth. The singers came up with the idea at the regulars' table, "cancelled choir rehearsal". The rehearsal was actually cancelled that evening, so there was plenty of time to talk about the "good old days" over a beer. This brought up the milk bank, where fresh milk was collected in large cans from the surrounding farmers early in the morning and in the afternoon from the former Grieb milk centre in Giessen. That was several decades ago. From the initially fixed idea, it quickly became clear that we wanted to do this. Due to the pandemic, it took two years to implement the idea. The mayor of Pohlheim and the magistrate had already been asked beforehand and signalled the town's support for this piece of living village history. The Douglas fir wood and the concrete foundation slabs were financed by the Sängerkränzler themselves. The building yard helped with the fastening of the terrain and foundation edging. On Friday and Saturday, the men pitched in and screwed and drilled so that the 2.40 x 0.90 metre bench would be suitably stable and available for walkers. The milk cans provided by Klaus Harnisch and Hartmut Reitschmidt from the Weiherhof were firmly screwed to the bench at the side of the seat at the end. Soon there will be a sign to remind people of the history behind the bench. The milk bench will be officially inaugurated and celebrated with choir singing, of course. This is planned for the spring. The exact date will follow.

Roger Schmidt

Technical data

Singing for the Milk Bank

Pohlheim (rge). The singers of the "vocale Sängerkranz" around choirmaster Peter Schmitt sang "Rauschen die Quellen im Tales Grund - The springs murmur at the bottom of the valley" in the well-known choral classic "Heimat" on Saturday at the inauguration of the new milk bank at the Fountain Square in Watzenborn-Steinberg. Despite the freezing cold on this afternoon in April, a number of listeners, including Mayor Andreas Ruck, Head of the village Eva Saarbourg and the local chairman of the Schiffenberg local history association Dieter Schäfer, came to this small ceremonial opening act with choral music.

Werner Funk, chairman of the Sängerkranz, recalled the development of the idea from two and a half years ago to its realisation in the last few weeks. 13 participating singers of the regulars' table "Cancelled choir rehearsal" had contributed to the realisation, he thanked. And the municipal building yard was also appreciated.

Place of remembrance

The new milk bank is a reminder of "Wois froier woar - How it was in the past", because a similar bank had once stood not far from the Goldener Stern clubhouse, where the surrounding farmers delivered their milk to the dairy headquarters. Many of the singers in the immediate vicinity had experienced this as an everyday occurrence in their younger years, Funk said.

Today, the bench with the milk cans is intended to give walkers the opportunity to rest and remember this piece of history. There is also a plaque with pictures and text highlighting this history. This was appreciated as a "great initiative" of the Sängerkranz singers by Mayor Ruck, who, together with the other visitors, thanked them with applause for the German folk song "Das Morgenrot - The dawn" as another "vocale" contribution with the expectant lines "The sun, it beams at us from afar, and gives us life and joy in addition".

Roger Schmidt