Extension clubs served real purpose in mother’s life

By Don McAlvy: Columnist

I always thought extension clubs were started so lonely mothers could have other women come to give them some company. That meant us kids would have a lot of new stuff to eat. (And they would make a quilt if they had time!)

The reason my mother’s club, the Claud Rainy Day Club was started was spelled out by Edna H. Durand, our Curry County Home Club Leader, in 1925: “The purpose of the club is to teach women to make housekeeping and homemaking easier.”

What! Easier! It wasn’t having company and kids to play with, it wasn’t all that good food, and making quilts, and gossipin’?

When we got electricity at our home at Claud in 1939, now that made my mother’s life easier, as the first thing she bought, besides one light bulb, which she screwed it in the socket hanging from the ceiling, was an electric iron, for our shirts and things. Well, I thought she was doing pretty good with her old flat iron she heated on the cook stove. And, right or not, my dad and us kids never heard her
complain.

Well, electricity helped me as it was better light to read my school books by, instead of the cold oil lamps we had.

So, it’s your general feeling that extension clubs made your life easier? Did you say yes? Okay, I’ll accept that. And all this time I thought she was lonely and needed company. And the club wasn’t organized so each woman could bring a beautifully decorated dish filled with food with fancy stuff on top, to show off to the other members?

My mother didn’t share all this information about extension clubs with me. She was too busy raising three wild kids, taking care of a husband who was 20 years older than she, and he wasn’t one to hardly say anything to anybody. She was only 16 when she married, and until us kids were raised she was busy cooking, washing and drying the clothes by hand, at harvest time cooking big meals, trying to keep our house clean (you could throw a cat between the cracks in the walls), and keeping us kids clean (a bath each Saturday night in a No. 2 washtub, my brother first, and my sister and I next, in his dirty bath water).

Mother cut our hair, patched our clothes, cuts and wounds, hauled us off to church on Sunday in our best shirt and pants, or dress for my little sister. I only remembered one good Sunday shirt and pants that I had.

Oh yes, she put a garden in every spring, when we butchered a hog she’d make lye soap and cracklins’ and put up the meat, and she would use our single shot .22 rifle to shoot skunks that got into the hen house where the baby chicks were. One time she stopped Roy Patterson to have him help her pull a calf.

And she did all this, and more, without any pay!

I’m convinced now she needed that Claud Rainy Day Club, or else she’d have gone crazy.