Cheese Boxes and Clothespin Dolls

Reader Contribution by Connie Moore
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Two odd items on the garage sale table caught my attention. A small wooden box, writing evident on the sides, it was never the less dusty, greasy and pressed with the grime that only comes from long-time storage.

Using a toothbrush to clean it, we found it was an old Pauly & Pauly cheese box. Taking it apart, we found two large boxes and a smaller one inside. At 25 cents, it was a real find, for the name Pauly & Pauly was used only up ’til 1929 at which time it changed to Pauly Cheese Company.

Nicholas Pauly was a renowned wagon maker in the last quarter of the 19th century. His wife, Lucy, started making cheese in her kitchen about 1878. She was the first woman cheesemaker in Wisconsin. Nicholas saw the potential. Together with their four sons, they built the cheesemaking industry, by 1915 selling 10 million pounds of cheese a year. By 1955 they operated more than 30 factories.

A stack of cheese contained about 10 boxes of squares. Cheese was shaped into twins, squares, daisies, double daisies, horns, midgets and block and barrel. After being paraffined, the cheese was placed in a wooden box, which was lined with a scaleboard to keep the paraffin from being scratched off. Our boxes had held Yellow American or Windsor cheese.

Further along the table was a plastic tub of clothespins. Not the modern plastic clips, these were smooth-from-use wooden pins or pegs. First patented model was in 1852. Civil War veterans used them to make dolls, selling them to support themselves. They often used pieces of their old uniforms or battle flags for the clothes.

Pioneer girls were often given one to make into a doll. Toys were simple back then. A piece of coal marked the eyes, nose and mouth. Quilt scraps stitched together formed dresses, capes, aprons and bonnets. Even today these dolls are popular, craft stores selling all sorts of tiny items to clothe them.

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