Saturday, March 31, 2012

North Carolina Girls and the Tomato Clubs

By I.O. Schaub, written for the March 1953 issue of Extension Farm-News, after he had retired as director of the Agricultural Extension Service, N.C. State College, Raleigh. Corn and Tomato Clubs were the basis for 4-H Clubs.

From the beginning of the boy’s Corn Club work, there were some girls enrolled for that project. Obviously, however, very few, if any, anticipated that there would ever be a large enrollment of girls in connection with field projects requiring a large amount of hard physical labor. A number of people gave thought to the development of a type of project for girls more suitable than corn.

Some members of the staff in Dr. Knapp’s philosophy, however, that it was better to take one project at a time carrying it along until it received the necessary recognition on the part of the public and then take on additional activities. Apparently the Corn Club work developed more rapidly than Dr. Knapp anticipated and by the end of 1909, he was ready to sponsor activities with girls.

Dr. Knapp and members of the staff discussed various ideas with people in a number of states and out of these discussions it was decided that the girls’ work would be initiated on the basis of having each club member grow and can one-tenth acre of tomatoes. The tomato was selected because it was generally grown and appreciated. It was more easily canned without danger of spoilage than was true with most vegetables, and it was felt that one-tenth of an acre would provide not only for the family but would produce enough for sale. The idea of having some for sale was a significant factor for at that time spending money with the average farm family was exceedingly small.

During the Christmas holidays of 1909, O.B. Martin addressed the annual meeting of the State Educational Association in Columbia, S.C. He outlined the plans for a garden and canning project and pointed out specifically that it would tie schools more closely to the farm homes. The teachers listened with interest but only one responded with definite action. Miss Marie S. Kromer from Aiken County went home and spent her Saturdays writing letters to girls trying to enlist them in the project. By spring, she had 46 volunteers who were growing a tenth acre each according to the instructions from the Department of Agriculture. During the growing season, Miss Kromer, the County Superintendent of Schools, and also the State Farm Demonstration Agent visited the girls, and in time the tomatoes started to ripen and the next step was to get them canned.

Miss Kromer’s project received wide publicity even in the early stages and a public-spirited woman in New England financed a summer of domestic science study in New England for Miss Kromer. She left just after her school closed so arrangements had to be made to teach the club girls how to can.

Dr. Knapp’s office had sponsored the project so that office was expected to furnish the leadership. Mr. Martin was assigned the job. He knew practically nothing about canning so he looked around for skilled help. He enlisted the services of Miss Hyde, the Home Economics teacher at Winthrop College, and also rounded up a tinner, a plumber, and a carpenter. A meeting was called at Aiken on the courthouse square on July 16, 1910. The girls were invited to bring in their tomatoes. A rather large canning outfit was shipped from Illinois and set up on the courthouse lawn. There were long tables at which women and girls worked, blanching and peeling tomatoes. This canning school ran for three days and it was then moved to another town where the scene was repeated.

One 14-year-old girl who attended the session at Aiken produced on her tenth acre plot 512 No. 3 cans of tomatoes, and it was estimated that her profit was $40. This project in Aiken County aroused so much community interest that a fair was organized, capitalized at $8,000 for the sole purpose of climaxing the annual labors of the boys and girls’ clubs.

Wide publicity was, of course, given to this initial endeavor, and by fall there was an insistent demand for a similar type of program in many communities in several states.

About the same time this work was initiated in South Carolina, a similar activity was promoted in Virginia but without the specific project of one-tenth acre of tomatoes. As a matter of fact, Miss Ella Agnew of Virginia received an appointment from the Department as State Agent of Girls’ Tomato Clubs before a similar appointment was given to Miss Kromer. Miss Agnew, therefore, was the first Home Demonstration Agent ever appointed by the Department of Agriculture.

Late in the year of 1910, similar agents were appointed in Tennessee and in Mississippi.

Miss Susie Powell, first agent in Mississippi, visited Washington in the fall of 1910 and, in a conversation with Dr. Knapp, asked the question, “What does it all mean?”

Dr. Knapp’s reply was “Cultivation of the tomato plant will take us into the home garden. Canning the tomatoes will give us entrance to the farm kitchen. Tomatoes fresh and canned will be a valuable supplement to the family diet. The sale of tomatoes will provide an income for the girls. What the program will do for the farm home depends on our interest, intelligence, and perseverance.”

Dr. Knapp, responding to the general demand, arranged with the General Education Board of New York to finance the Canning Club program and at the board meeting on February 3, 1911, appropriated $5,000 for that purpose. His plan provided that where county workers were appointed, the board would give $75, provided the county would appropriate a like amount. It was assumed that this would employ woman agents for two summer months. The salary was low and the work hard, but part of the agents’ reward was the sudden revelation of how much their work meant to some unnoticed and neglected youngsters.

It was from this General Education Board appropriate that North Carolina was given its first allotment. As I recall, we were to receive $300 and to begin the work in two counties. I had become fairly well acquainted with the county superintendents of schools and after a conference with Dr. J.Y. Joyner, the work was offered to Guilford and Robeson counties. For some reason Robeson County failed to develop the program. In Guilford, Tom Foust, the county superintendent, became very much interested and after several conferences it was agreed that instead of starting the work in one school, it would be tried in two, but with a corresponding reduction in salary to be paid to two teachers so as to live within our total budget.

The first club was organized in March 1911, in the Pleasant Garden School with Miss Lucille Kennett as agent. Miss Kennett did not serve the entire summer and she was succeeded by Miss Annie Lee Rankin. The club was also organized at McLeansville and as I recall, Miss Rankin served that club as well as the one at Pleasant Garden. Probably a short time later, Mrs. J.E. Coltrane, the teacher at Jamestown, had charge of a club in that community.

The actual records of those activities do not seem to be available at this time. I do remember, however, attending a canning school at the spring back of the Rankin home at McLeansville, which was an all-day affair. None there had had experience in trying to seal tin cans. I was assigned the job of heating the sealing iron. I could get the iron hot but it just would not give us a smooth seal. We had plenty of grief and I now wonder how many of those cans of tomatoes really kept.

By 1912, Dr. Knapp and his staff in Washington were completely sold on the possibilities, and, with increased appropriation from the General Education Board, the work was expanded into other states and also the appropriate in the first states was increased. During the summer or early fall, I was advised from Washington that they thought it advisable for me to find a woman to take charge of the girls’ canning work. Perhaps they had heard of my lack of success in teaching people how to seal a tin can.

I began searching for a satisfactory person. I happened to be living next door to a lady with a charming personality and bubbling over with enthusiasm for any job she undertook. I approached her regarding this work. She knew scarcely anything regarding the program and naturally was somewhat cautious in making a commitment. Finally, however, she advised me that she would undertake it for a three-month period, but on the condition that if I was not satisfied with her work at the end of the period, I was frankly to tell her so, and also that if she was not satisfied she was to so advise me.

That lady was Mrs. Jane S. McKimmon who took over at that time and from then on became the outstanding leader of home demonstration work in North Carolina, and certainly during her lifetime no one in the United States exceeded her contribution. I think that the greatest contribution I have ever made to Extension work in North Carolina was getting Mrs. McKimmon started in that work.

There were a number of counties in the work in 1912, and at the fair that fall there was a booth exhibiting the products produced by the Girls’ Canning Club members. Already they had progressed beyond the mere canning stage for there were exhibits of pickle, catsup, canning in glass, canning in tin, and a number of other products. Occasionally you would hear a minor explosion in the exhibit for the canning art had not yet progressed to the point, at least for home canning, where all of the products were safely processed.

There was one rather amusing incident in connection with the fair exhibit. Mrs. McKimmon was not on the payroll, but her enthusiasm was already in the work so she stayed with the exhibit practically all of the time and took great pride in telling the fair visitors all about it. One day I observed her talking with a gentleman and she was talking not only verbally but with her hands and her whole personality. The conversation lasted for some time and when the visitor had gone, I asked Mrs. McKimmon if she knew who he was. She said that she did not, but that he certainly could ask lots of questions. I had met him before and knew that it was Dr. Wallace Butrick of the General Education Board in New York, the agency that was financing all of this work. Mrs. McKimmon was somewhat embarrassed but the incident did not dampen her enthusiasm and I am confident that Dr. Butrick left that exhibit with more confidence as to the future than we had had up to that time. He probably did not hear the bottles and jars popping from time to time.

The growing of the canning of tomatoes led almost immediately into other products. The soup mixture was one of the first, and this of course required vegetables. And very shortly some of the girls started in poultry work. All of this led to marketing, for one of the first objectives was to sell part of the product so as to increase the family income. Many problems had to be overcome. It was learned early that if you are going to sell, then you must have a standardized product. There were many problems, but in the long run these were solved, and the work expanded by leaps and bounds. From a very few girls in 1910, the number grew to some 4,000 in 1911, and about 11,000 in 1912, and more than 20,000 by 1913 throughout the southern states.

A Virginia agent, in one of her field reports, made a statement that exemplifies the significance of the work. It was as follows: “After all, this canning club work means that we are to get a girl to do something worthwhile, to have it approved by those she loves, and then lead on to greater things.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

"Feed a Fighter" Program to Win War, 1944

“Carolina Farm Comment” by F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Star, March 6, 1944

The battle of Stalingrad stands as one of the great, critical battles of history. It will rank perhaps along with Gettysburg or Waterloo or Kings Mountain or one of those other desperate struggles on which hinged the fate of nations and people. A Russian general who fought at Stalingrad was in the United States recently and he made some interesting observations about the battle. Among them, he said that the Germans in their desperate retreat abandoned huge stores of munitions of all kinds. They left behind great fields of tanks and trucks and enormous supplies of oil and equipment—but they never abandoned food.

This general observed with great clarity the decision of those ruthless leaders who have built one of the greatest fighting machines the world has ever seen. He had seen one of the greatest demonstrations in all history of the force and value of arms and yet he noted that the Germans were ready to abandon everything but food. Not only did they take their own food supplies with them but, as usual, they ravaged the countryside of its entire food supply that those left free from their slavery might suffer from malnutrition.

That’s the German way. They learned from World War I about food because that war left its mark on the young Prussians who were needed by the generals for another war. The Germans regard food as a weapon of war. They withhold it to have their commands obeyed and they supply it to reward their quislings. For the use of their own people they steal every ounce that the conquered countries can produce above a starvation level. Waste of food is not forgiven. Therefore, I was greatly interested in some remarks made by Marvin Jones, federal food administrator, the other day in telling about a dinner party in a mid-west state. There were 81 persons at the tables and when they had scraped all the edible food form the different plates and weighed it, it added up to exactly 17 pounds wasted by the 81 persons at that one dinner. That was abandoned food, Judge Jones said.

“We have always abandoned some food in America,” he added. “Historically, we have been so blessed among the peoples of the earth with such an abundance of food that we have naturally become somewhat careless and wasteful. We have collected figures recently throughout the nation and have found that we have been actually wasting at least 20 percent of all the food produced in this country.”

If Judge Jones is correct, as we must presume that he is, then we waste one pound of food out of every five that we produce. This is said to be enough to feed the combined populations of Greece, Czechoslovakia, Norway and Belgium. At the various colleges where young men are being trained for the various branches of the armed forces, the Experiment Stations have been making a study of food waste and nutrition. So far, these studies indicate in 37 colleges where the studies have been made that from one-half to two-thirds of a pound of food per student per day is being wasted. No wonder the 4-H Club leaders of America are calling upon the young farm people to produce more food. L.R. Harrill, club leader in North Carolina, has figured out that more than 24 million meals a day are needed to feed the men in armed forces. He says that every farm boy and girl of club age, from 10 to 20, should join in the 4-H Club plan of feeding a fighter this year.

It should be kept in mind that a large portion of the men in the army came from the farms. They have been accustomed to eating rather full meals and they gripe when they do not get the kind of food they want. Now that so many of them have gone from the farm, the boys and girls of club age are about all that are left to handle this job of food production. The week of March 4 to 12 has been set aside as club mobilization week and during that period Mr. Harrill is asking that every one stress the importance of the young people joining in 4-H Club work so that they might go about this job of food production in a methodical and definite way. 

One of the principal projects of the work this year will be “Feed a Fighter.” Hundreds of young people enlisted in this project last year and turned in splendid jobs of production. They were rewarded with free trips to nearby army posts and installations that they might see how the soldiers are fed and trained. The army was delighted to have these guests because our soldiers, like those of Germany and Russia, know also that food is a weapon of war.

Food production is going to be a hard job in North Carolina in 1944. Few general farms can … the 16 units demanded by the officials in charge of selective service. If then, additional men are taken from the farms, this will cut more deeply into the available supply of men left to grow food. The young 4-H club members will therefore face a greater responsibility than ever. Last year 92,000 of them did a great job. This year, there should be over 150,000 enlisted in the “Feed a Fighter” program. Here are some of the units of production which have been set up as being necessary to feed a soldier for one year: 1,300 pounds of meat produced by 2 baby beef animals, 6 pigs or 16 lambs, 300 broilers to weigh 1 ½ pounds each, 50 hens that will produce 450 dozen eggs, feed and care for one cow that will provide 5,500 pounds of milk, grow 113 bushels of corn or 110 bushels of tomatoes or 135 bushels of Iris potatoes, and produce 270 gallons of syrup, grow one acre of mixed vegetable, and can 500 quarts of vegetables. Those who do one or more of these things on each farm in the state may not see their food being sent directly oversees to the boy fighting on the battlefront, but, at least, this food when produced on ever farm will release other food to be sent from the great central markets of the nation. At the same time, we shall continue to have food and to spare here at home.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Patterson Grange, 1935

March, 1935, issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

Patterson Grange Number 616 was among the first to be organized in the state. We are located 10 miles west of Salisbury in Rowan County. We have a nice hall which was enlarged and painted last year. We not only have one of the largest in the state. We have been represented at each state meeting, and we have nine Seventh Degree members.

We meet every Saturday night. On the second Saturday night in each month we have an open meeting known as a “community meeting.” At this meeting we have programs that are both educational and recreational.

Our Grange also owns and operates a small store which is a great help to our members. We have a degree team that has done quite a bit of work in the county, putting on the third degree principally.

Patterson Grange, 1935

March, 1935, issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

Patterson Grange Number 616 was among the first to be organized in the state. We are located 10 miles west of Salisbury in Rowan County. We have a nice hall which was enlarged and painted last year. We not only have one of the largest in the state. We have been represented at each state meeting and we have nine Seventh Degree members.

We meet every Saturday night. On the second Saturday night in each month we have an open meeting known as a “community meeting.” At this meeting we have programs that are both educational and recreational.

Our Grange also owns and operates a small store which is a great help to our members. We have a degree team that has done quite a bit of work in the county, putting on the third degree principally.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Joe Went To College—So Can You, 1941

From the March 1941 issue of The Southern Planter

Four years ago Joe Sanderson bought two pigs. Four years hence, if his plans materialize, he will graduate with a B.S. degree in Agriculture from the North Carolina State College. Those four years dealing with pigs and the 4-H Club work have paved the way.

Here is how it happened. Those first two pigs bought in 1937 at a cost of $27 netted only experience, but determination would not be denied. Two registered Spotted Poland-China gilts and one small male, at a cost of $80 when fed and cared for the 4-H way produced 13 pigs in 1938. In addition, Joe bought seven feeder pigs and conducted a feeding demonstration. From the two projects, he made a net profit of $394.

Joe started 1939 with one boar, two sows and one gilt. He raised 71 hogs. Soybeans and lespedza were grown for pasture, and the hogs fed by a self-feeder. October 5th found Joe and 21 of his hogs at the State Fair, winning $101 in prizes. In 1940 he raised 84 head of hogs, again exhibiting at the State Fair and winning $89 with 23 animals.

During his four years Joe spent $1,465.87 on his pig club project with a gross income of $2,973.87, leaving a net profit of $1,508.

Joe soon learned that a balanced system of farming pays best. In 1937, he produced 106.6 bushels of corn on his club acre, making a profit of $44.94. In 1938 with seed, field selected from the 1937 crop, he produced 137.5 bushels on an acre, making a profit of $66.20. In 1939 he produced 72.1 bushels, making a profit of $28.46. In 1040, by following good cultural practices and wise marketing, he produced $77.05 worth of sweet potatoes, making a profit of $55.60 from is first sweet potato project. The baby beef project made him a net of $38.56, making a gross income of $3,409.81 over the four-year period.

Joe won six championship ribbons, 18 blue ribbons, six red ribbons, and 13 white ribbons with his pigs at the State Fair. What is even more important, he won a gold watch and a state champion livestock certificate, a one year scholarship to the North Carolina State College and a State Champion corn club certificate.

Joe has participated in county, state and district judging contests, has served as music director and reporter for his local club. “During my four years in club work,” said Joe, “I have learned many things about farming. I have learned that balanced farming is profitable, that one must raise not only corn and potatoes but livestock also to consume the farm products. The years I have been enrolled in 4-H Club work have been well spent. I only hope that my future years will be as much pleasure to me as the years I have been a 4-H member.”

America is still a land of opportunity for ambitious farm youth!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Keep Those Victory Gardens Growing, 1945

“Carolina Farm Comment” by F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Star, March 5, 1945

The year 1945 will long be remembered in the homes of America. This is a trite thing to say when my two boys and your boys, and your sweetheart, and hour husband, or perhaps your father are in the armed forces and you pray every day that they shall do their duty and come through unscathed by hurts of war. We shall remember the year 1945 because of them, of course, but if we are not very careful we shall also remember this year because of the food situation. 

Information from Washington is to the effect that the army will step up its buying and that many of the foods which are now critical with us will be bought in larger quantities than ever. We saw that this week in the higher point values going on fats and cooking oils. There seems to be a fear that once Germany collapses, if she does, the peole of the United States will let down in the war effort and will not push things hard enough for us to have the supplies with which to whip Japan into submission. That sounds like good logic but it means that civilians are going to feel the good pinch.

At the risk of being repetitious, therefore, I am going to ask every reader of this column to do something about it. In other words, if you live in town and have a garden spot, please plant a garden and look after it all the year. If you are on the farm, please have a family-sized garden in which you can grow all the fresh vegetables your family will need for fresh use and for canning. If you are selling off your brood sows because of the high price of feedstuffs, please save at least enough of these to provide pigs for your home supply of meat and a little to sell to your town neighbors who know nothing about raising hogs. If you do not have the feed supplies for your dairy cattle or for your beef animals or sheep or poultry, please begin to plan right now about the feed you can grow and see that it is planted, grown, and harvested.

It is not becoming in an agricultural worker perhaps to attempt being a prophet. No one can read the future, but, certainly one can see what the trend is, and despite the lack of labor and the hardships which farmers will have to put up with in 1945, they must look after their home supplies of food and feed. Louis Broomfield said in 1943, I believe it was, that we would approach famine conditions by the summer of that year. He didn’t know what he was talking about because the farmers of America broke all records for food production up to that time and then went on to break them again in 1944. But they had good seasons. So far in this year, we have had no serious droughts, nor any great insect or disease outbreaks to affect our production of food and feed crops. “This has been true now for seven straight, successive years. It is simply too good to last. We may be in for the seven poor years of Joseph’s day. It could not be as serious with us as it was with ancient Egypt because we have a greater diversity of soils and climate over this nation and are not dependent solely upon rains at the upper reaches of a river.

But we could be hurt and hurt badly if something happened to the normal food supplies of the nation. North Carolina should never want for anything. From the seashore of Wilmington to the tops of the mountains, we have soils, climate, rainfall in such variance that some groups, somewhere, will have good crops. We can grow anything that can be grown anywhere else in the nation and then something more. Our orators have told us that time and time again. The ting we must do, however, to think through the situation as it might affect our own, individual farms and then make our plans to that we shall not want on any farm. Then we also have an obligation towards the family in town that normally busy the surplus that we produce. Society is so divided that some of us make our living on the farm from the land, while others make their living manufacturing or trading in the things which we need or in handling the things which we produce. We, therefore, have a responsibility to see that these persons do not suffer from a lack of nutritious food.

We can increase our production of corn this year by using good seed, by fertilizing with more nitrogen, and by better cultivation. We have better pastures for our livestock because we have used ground limestone and phosphates upon them and they will turn out more gallons of milk, more pounds of beef, and more eggs and broilers. Victory Gardens are off to a good start in some states to the south of us. In some of the states, governors have issued proclamations urging all citizens to plant gardens and to husband the surplus. Reports from all parts of North Carolina indicate that we shall have as many home gardens this year as we had last year. This is good as far as it goes; but, the fact remains that we did not have many gardens last year as we should have had.  The town people fell down on this job a little and if they are wise, they will remedy the situation in 1945.

And just this one other word about food supplies. We are going to need all kinds of foods. Meat will be almost impossible to get later on. If we are to be properly fed, we must have fresh vegetables, peas, beans, and other vegetable high in protein. Then, too, there is a place for more small fruits and berries. North Carolina is a natural berry state. The old-fashioned gardens of the past years always contained small fruits and berries. They added much to the diet. They sharpened the appetite. They made delicious refreshments for those who came to see us. Let’s begin to grow more of them and thus better enjoy the other homegrown food that we shall have on hand.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Remembering Rags

“Ragtime” by Florence Oliver in The Precious Past: Reminiscences of the Way Life Used to Be, recollections by Home Demonstration Club members of Washington County, published in November 1992

The present generation is used to the convenience of something ready made available for every phase of housekeeping and cleaning, especially the many products of paper and plastic. Maybe they wonder how we managed before these products were available.

I was born in 1913, so I came through ragtime. Rags increased steadily: underwear, nightgowns, pajamas, shirts, sheets, dish towels, bath towels and wash cloths wore out. When fabric had holes or became thin, faded or frayed, we ripped it into rags. This is our oldest form of recycling.

Sometimes we erred and made instant rags. A repairman grabbed whatever was at hand to dab at a mess. He would snatch a terry cloth towel in the latest color or the dazzling new white dish cloth to catch dribbles of grease or dirty water. A prudent housekeeper would anticipate this need and offer a supply of rags at the outset making sure to remove the good towels. A prudent repairman might arrive equipped with rags of his own. But many of us did not plan ahead, and the new towels became the rags that we forgot to use for the next repairs.

Another batch of instant rags was generated by people who were going to do “just a little painting.” They planned to be neat, but errant drops of green, white, or brown paint inevitably spoiled their jeans, sweatshirts, or socks. These garments were then relegated to a pile of paint clothes that would be worn for major paint jobs if they could be found when needed or if they still fit.

Rags came and went, but there is one kind that I miss—diapers reincarnated as premium quality multi-use rags, which disappeared when the last of the diaper wearers graduated to underwear. Users of the disposable diapers do not know what wonders these soft old cloths were for polishing silver and waxing furniture. By the time our former diaper wearers entered high school, their diapers had become mere threads—two wispy and thin for any more work. Their passing left a void in the rag supply.

Fifty years ago, used cloth was not so quickly relegated to the ragbin. Table napkins were made from the best parts of table cloths. Everyday handkerchiefs were made from the sides of sheets. As fabrics aged, they were often promoted to new and grander purposes. Strong hands snipped old suits, coats, ties, and stockings into strips that were then braided into handsome rugs. Deft needle workers sewed patchwork quilts from the salvageable sections of old dresses. These beautiful, durable products often lived a second useful life, much longer than the first. Some old quilts still eluded the ragbag, for as valued antiques they are used as wall hangings.

Cotton feedbags, both white and printed, were used for making aprons, smocks, kitchen curtains, pillow cases, and even our everyday dresses, if there were two or more of the same design. They wore well. Cotton flour bags, finely woven and soft, made the best dish towels. I still have a bridge table cloth and four napkins made from white feed bags. The hems and a corner design were hand hemstitched. This set won a blue ribbon at the State Fair.

Burlap bags, just folded, were used for foot mats. We were taught to cut strips and gather them into a double ruffle. The ruffle was sewn by hand with a peanut needle and twine string to a flat burlap bag. This made a nice fluffy door mat.

Especially during the depression years, anything was used. For years the boll weevil, a small grayish beetle whose larvae do damage to cotton bolls, made cotton no longer profitable to plant.

Rayons, nylons, polyester, and cotton blends gradually replaced cotton. These new fabrics changed the clothes we wore and the way they were washed. We could no longer boil clothes with homemadelye soap in an iron washpot.

Home Demonstration Agents taught us how to care for these new materials and suggested detergents to use. Needless to say, cotton rags were no longer plentiful. Lots of mending has been done; both patching and darning, to preserve the rags.

Certain common rags should be reserved for the tasks for which they are best suited. Old sheets, pillow cases, and dish towels are unsurpassed for cleaning windows, the older and softer the better. The most excellent dust rags are from underwear and flannel clothing. Frayed bath towels are prized for laying sweaters out to dry, mopping large water spills, blotting wet spots on carpets, and especially useful for washing and drying cars.

A rainy day is a good time for sorting rags and labeling boxes and the shelves where they are stored. This activity should not be scorned as a waste of time. It should be noted that there are triple benefits from a task that allows one to reorganize, ruminate, and reminisce all at the same time. Now everyone in the family can find the right rag for every job and no question need be asked. Launder, dry, fold, and reshelve the rags until they are no longer useable.

We had Ragtime music, too—a type of American music, an early form of jazz first popular, according to Webster, from about 1890 to 1915, characterized by strong syncopation in fast even time and rhythm. To sing or hum along, tunes added amusement to a task.

I am a dedicated recycler of cloth.
   --Florence Oliver

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rebellious Farm Wife Sounds Off, 1942

From "Letters from Farm Women" in the March 1942 issue of The Farmer’s Wife

Every other month or so a letter appears in ‘Letters from Farm Women’ that is just a variation of the same old story. At considerable length some woman describes her humble farm home and how happy she is to be living in it. She tells of the joyous sight of a cellar full of canned goods, a husband coming home at night, dead-tired from a hard day’s work in the field, and contented children popping corn in the evening.

How those letters irk me! Show me the woman who gets more pleasure from a cellar full of canned goods than form a chic hair-do or a snappy new dress, and I’ll show you a woman whose husband doesn’t love her nearly as much as she thinks he does.

And may the Lord save me from a husband who is too tired at the end of a day’s work to practice a new dance step or take me skating on a moonlit rink. He’d probably be bald-headed.

As far as pop-corn is concerned, my children hate it! So do I. So we all see a movie or go bowling and have a capital time. Evenings at home get tiresome.

I can hear good women disagreeing with me already. Let them. My husband and children love me more for my being able to wear a size 14 bathing suit than they do for my cherry pie, which is really super.

Does a woman have to be an old stay-at-home, or stick-in-the-mud in order to be a good farm homemaker? Not if you ask me.

Let other gentle letter-writers spend the $3 they receive from ‘Farm Women’s Letters’ for baby layettes and gingham aprons. If this is printed, my daughter and I shall have twin manicure sets.
--Rebellious, Minnesota

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Columbus County's Outstanding Farmers, 1945

“Carolina Farm News” by F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Columbus County News, Chadbourn, March 22, 1945

Columbus is one of the very interesting counties of North Carolina. Potentially, I believe, it offers possibilities for becoming one of the best farming sections in the state. Within its boundaries will be found some of the best soil in the state. It is still rather heavily wooded despite the great lumbering operations which have gone on there for many years. It has great swamps which some day will provide feed and food crops in abundance. It is noted for its wildlife. Its people live a rather lusty life. They are pioneers, in a sense, because many of them are living on farms that yesterday are were in woods. And there are good farmers to be found all over the county.

I like to go to Columbus County because the people there do things, and they move without hesitation. In the past, woodland products, strawberries and tobacco have furnished the main income sources. But, make no mistake, the future will tell a brave tale of balanced farming, of livestock, of pastures, and a fine rural life.

For instance, J.P. Quinerly, the assistant farm agent, tells about J.W. Christianson of Lees township who operates 360 acres of cropland, and double-crops most of it. He plants and cultivates with machinery and harvests with cattle and hogs. Right now he has 350 hogs and 75 head of cattle grazing on early-planted grain and gleaning a 200 acre field of corn and soybeans. In one of his fields, the rows are a mile long with no stumps, ideal for machinery.

J.W. Soles is regarded as the grape champion of Columbus. From one acre of scuppernong vines, he sold over $1,500 worth of grapes last year. This winter he set out another acre of the delicious grapes with plants that he rooted himself. Tobacco is still his main money crop, however, and will be as long as the present high prices continue. Mr. Soles has to have a good income because he has two daughters in college and the grapes help him to keep them there.

Dan High is another good farmer who wants all his open land to pay him for his labor. Mr. Quinerly said he went to the High farm the other day and with the help of a level, two borrowed scoops, and the High tractor, Percheron mares and farm labor, a shallow pond was filled and Mr. High had another acre of fertile land toad to this particular field. The low place was fixed to that the water would not accumulate there again.

Then there is D.L. Jordan of the Western Prong section who made an average of 60 bushels of corn last year and has not made less than 50 bushels an acre in over five years. Mr. Quinerly says that Dave Jordan has reached this satisfactory yield by building up his land through the use of winter and summer legumes, by careful soil preparation, thicker spacing, sallow cultivation, and liberal applications of fertilizer supplemented with from 200 to 300 pounds of nitrate of soda around the corn when it is about knee high. David also produces about 1,700 pounds of good tobacco per acre, and he has hogs and beef steers to sell every year.
W.J. Bussey of Hallsboro has just bought a fine Holstein sire from the famous McEarchern herd at Wilmington. He plans to build a better dairy herd and to add to the 100 gallons of milk which he now sells every day in Wilmington.

L.H. High of Welches Creek makes money with hogs. He is not an “in and out” grower, according as the prices of hogs rises or falls, but he keeps about seven brood sows all the time and breeds them to farrow each fall and spring. He says the pigs come at the right time to glean his fields, to graze upon the fresh, green forage crops, and to grow up into healthy animals. He keeps parasites under control by strict sanitation and sees to it that his hogs get plenty of fresh water, minerals, and protein feed.

Other farmers of the county believe in keeping their livestock in good condition. Charlie Raper, the farm agent, says that over 400 work animals were treated at 18 clinics recently held over the county in cooperation with a local veterinarian. The men were so pleased with the results of the clinics that they asked for them to be made annual affairs.

The new freezer locker plant at Whiteville is meeting a real need. Practically all of the 553 lockers have been filled with nice meat and other farm products, and there is a waiting list of about 50 farmers who want to use the facilities. One farmer told Mr. Raper that he just had to have a larger locker because he had to take out 3 pounds of home-grown steak to put in four pounds of nice, home-made butter. The locker will be a great help in meat curing next season, and some farmers say that instead of trying to kill and cure all of their meat at one time, they will spread it out over the season since they now have a place where it can be cured without loss.

Columbus people are also very much in the poultry business. Flocks of 30 to 600 hens are to be found over the county and many growers plan to increase their flocks as they grow more feed. The whole county is moving forward in a steady, progressive sort of way. Bill Hooks, one of Columbus County’s progressive farm leaders, has already been selected as one of North Carolina’s master farmers and there will be others in the few years just ahead.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Canning Supplies for England; Enriching NC Farms, 1941

From Carolina Farm Notes by F.H. Jeter, in The Southern Planter, March 1941 issue

Canning Supplies for England
Home Demonstration club women of North Carolina have contributed $106.93 so far to provide food conservation equipment for the country women of England who need to grow and conserve more food than usual and who, in some cases, have had their existing equipment blown to bits by murderous aggressors from Germany. The money donated will be combined with funds from other states and used to buy pressure cookers and other canning equipment.

The Women’s Institute of England, corresponding to the Home Demonstration clubs of America, has been asked to assume the leadership in promoting home conservation of food, and these contributions will help to provide equipment not now available in sufficient amount.

Lespedeza Pays on Mecklenburg County Farm
“Before I began seeding lespedeza on my small grain about 10 years ago, I made 28 to 30 bales of lint cotton a year on 50 acres. But last year I made 37 bales on my allotted 29.4 acres,” says P.C. Harkey, a farmer in the Sharon township of Mecklenburg County.

“Furthermore, my farm is 40 per cent more valuable than it was 10 years ago because the soil is more fertile and the fields less eroded.”

Mr. Harkey said he would not plant 50 acres of cotton now even if he were allotted that many acres for the simple reason that he has learned to make more on fewer acres. Lespedeza has made his soil easier to plow, causes it to hold moisture better and permits the cotton plants to hold squares and bolls to maturity. Corn has benefited to the same extent as cotton. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Woman Proposes Government Help Distressed Families Keep Homes, 1935

“As a Woman Sees It” by Alice Dugger Grimes, as published in the March 1935 issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

How fine it would be if some plan could come out of Washington whereby the government would lend to distressed home owners before they became delinquents, a plan just a little different from the well-known Home Owners Loan Corporation now in operation. Perhaps an addition to it could lend to those who are struggling so valiantly to meet the mortgage payments each month, and are meeting them, despite insufficient food, thread-bare clothing, lack of physician’s care and dental attention. A plan whereby these mortgage payments could be lessened each month and thereby stretched over a longer space of time. To many home owners, in reality just partial home owners, this difference, though it might be only of a few dollars, would bridge the gap between security and deadly insecurity.

Nothing is more heart-rending than to see a family forced to vacate a home upon which many payments have been made through the practice of the most basic sacrifices. A home where so much of one’s self has been poured out in the form of lawn and trees, walk-ways and fences, shrubs and flowers, fruits and vines; each nook and corner, each door and window, each porch and pantry planned with the purpose of comfort for one’s own immediate family.

The government is particularly interested in saving the home of the average man, so maybe before long this particular type of homesteader may be reached. We who fall under this classification must remember that Rome was not built in a day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Using Rabbits for Food, 1945

From the March 1945 issue of The Southern Planter

There is a place for the raising of domestic rabbits on many farms. …meat supplies are sharply cut by the war, rabbit raising is a flourishing business and rabbit meat is an import food item.

And as the war progresses, the little jingle that follows may become a reality with many homemakers:
Bye Baby Bunting,
Mamma’s gone a hunting
To get a rabbit for our meal.
She can’t find beef, pork or veal.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Causes of Death, 1908

From mortality statistics for 1907 and 1908, nearly one-fifth of all the deaths that occurred in the United States were those of infants under 1 year of age, and over one-fourth are of children less than 5 years of age.

“The general death rate of a country is largely dependent upon its infant mortality, because the death rates of infants and young children are high and they affect a relatively numerous element of the population.” (page 8, Mortality Statistics 1908, Dept. of Commerce and Labor)

What were the most common causes of all these deaths among babies? Premature birth, congenital debility, venereal diseases, diarrhea and enteritis, measles, acute bronchitis, bronchopneumonia, whooping cough, croup/diphtheria, meningitis, laryngitis and other diseases of larynx, scarlet fever, and convulsions.

Among adults in large cities (defined as those with a population of 100,000 or greater), the most important causes of death were typhoid fever, measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, diphtheria and croup, tuberculosis, cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, diarrhea and enteritis, Bright’s disease [kidney disease], suicide, and other violence. Smallpox, plague, yellow fever, leprosy, rabies, and pellagra [a vitamin deficiency, although the cause was not yet known] caused relatively few deaths.

From the Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census’ Mortality Statistics: 1908, Bulletin 104, published in 1909

Monday, March 19, 2012

Filling Up With Esso at Toxaway Lodge, 25 Cents a Gallon, 1942

This wonderful photo taken in North Carolina in 1942 is from Reminisce magazine,
“This is my uncle Leslie Lease, originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin, filling up a 1920s-era car from a gravity-feed pump at a station in North Carolina,” notes Bob Durling of Highland, Indiana. “The license plate reveals the year to be 1942. Check out the gas price of under 25 cents, including tax. On back of the photo is written ‘Leslie’s first and only customer…Toxaway Lodge, taking Mr. Reid’s place.”

Clay County Boy's Corn Earns Him a Scholarship, 1935

March, 1935, issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

By growing 137 bushels of corn on 1 acre of land at a cost of 22 cents a bushel, Charles Galloway of Clay County has been declared the champion corn club boy of the state and given a 1-year scholarship to State College.

The total production cost was $30.15 and the corn was valued at $1 a bushel, giving him a net profit of $106.85. Galloway figures his cost for labor at $17.35, use of a team at $6.30, Fertilizer at $7.15, 65 cents for seed.

He won in competition with more than 1,200 other corn club members. The scholarship was awarded by the Barrett Company, distributors of Arcadian nitrate of soda.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hog Growing Contest, 1947

“Carolina Farm Comment” by F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Star, March 25, 1947

The small cooperative livestock association based on the Cofield shipping point in Hertford County is conducting a sow and litter contest this year. The contest is for the farmers of Hertford, Bertie, and Gates counties, who are members of the little mutual association and who ship their finished hogs from that point—when they have hogs to ship.

The purpose of this kind of hog growing contest is to develop the hog population of North Carolina and to make the industry more profitable to those who have a part in it.

The first phase of the contest is to see who can produce the heaviest litter of pigs at 56 days of age. The second is to see who can produce the heaviest litter at 6 months of age at the greatest profit to the owner. It is figured that through the use of good brood sows, many litters, when six months old, will weigh a ton or more but records must be kept showing exactly how much feed the pigs consumed, what the feed cots amounted to, and the gains made on the feed.

Selected Sows
By reason of these contests, and a number of them are beign held all over North Carolina this year, the farmers will try to develop register-of-merit brood sows. Then they plan to select their brood sows in the future on the basis of their performance rather than on the basis of their appearance.

Jack Kelly, swine specialist, visited members of the Coefield Assocation the other day and reports that in Bertie County, H.W. Spruill of Ebenezer, Billy Burkett of Lewiston, Willie J. Butler of Askewville, N.J. Miller of Riverside, and A.T. Powell of Trapp have all indicated that each of them would enter one or more litters of pigs into this contest. Other farmers in Hertford and Gates also will enter the contest.

Ton Litter Contests
The farm agents of Northampton, Hertford, Gates, Pasquotank, and Currituck counties are sponsoring ton litter feeding contests and are planning to have a show and sale of fat hogs, grown out in these contests at Elizabeth City on May 9 and 10, and another at Winton next fall on September 17.

Mr. Kelly has been working with the swine growers of that section to help them in getting their pigs off to a good start. He says that thrifty pigs are produced by healthy, vigorous, heavy-producing brood sows that have been fed the right kind of feed before and after farrowing.

Hand Feeding
For instance, the specialist recommends that the sow should be hand-fed during the gestation period and supplied with enough feed to keep her in good, medium condition. He recommends a mixture of 1 bushel of oats, 1 bushel of corn and 6 pounds of fish meal or tankage as a good feed mixture for the animal during this period. High quality mixed supplement also can be used, or the sow can be fed corn with one-third of a pound of tankage or fish meal per day.

At any rate, these brood animals should always get plenty of water and green feed. They need a mineral mixture which can be made up of 10 parts of ground limestone, 5 parts of bone meal, and 2 parts of salt. This keeps the body of the hogs in good condition and prevents breaking down of the legs and back.

Green Feed Important
Green feed is always important. In fact, Mr. Kelly says that, where possible, brood sows should farrow on a good pasture because this is a regular resort for the young pigs. Growers have found that the use of pasture will cut the cost of gains in pigs by as much as 30 per cent on the protein supplement.

Good pasture helps in preventing wormy pigs and when the youngsters are free from worms, they grow faster and make better gains on less feed.

After the spring pigs are farrowed, the brood animals need further attention. It is well to hand-feed them until the pigs are 2 weeks old and then put them on a self-feeder with grain, minerals, and the protein supplement, such as tankage or fish meal. Wean the pigs when they are 8 weeks old and continue them on the self-feeder and pasture.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lumberton and Mebane Women Share Recipes, 1935

In the March 1935 issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower), North Carolina women shared recipes in the magazine’s “The Woman’s Touch” column

Brown Sugar Pie
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons sweet milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix ingredients and beat well. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake until brown enough for meringue. Raisins and a little coconut add much to the filling and may be used if desired.
--Mrs. N.A. Kinlaw Jr., Lumberton, N.C.

Fruit Flummery
Placed canned cherries, blackberries or dewberries in a sauce pan and add enough water to weaken juice some (1 pint to 1 quart of water to 1 quart of canned fruit). Bring to a boil and then add 3 heaping tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in a little water. When good and thick, pour in bowl and let it get good and cold. This is grand served with cream or whipped cream.
--Mrs. Harvey Mann, Mebane, N.C.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hens Raise Chicks Together, 1935

March, 1935, issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

This is a story about 11-year-old Richard Leiper and two Barred Rock hens as told by Richard’s father, Bart Leiper, advertising manager of the Pilot Life Insurance Company in Greensboro.

Richard had two Barred Rock hens which he had raised from some biddies his grandparents had given him. Last fall one of the hens wanted to “set” so Richard put eggs under her. The other hen kept right on laying.

The day the biddies hatched the laying hen laid an egg. Just as soon as the “setting” hen brought her brood off the nest, however, the hen that had been laying turned mother and took one-half of the brood from the hen that had hatched the eggs. And together the two hens brought up a fine bunch of chicks.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Carolina Farm Notes, April 1941

From Carolina Farm Notes by F.H. Jeter, in The Southern Planter, April 1941 issue

When L.R. Harrill, 4-H Club leader, began to search the records of leading 4-H club members to find the best one for 1940, he couldn’t get away from the fact that two records stood out above the others. It was almost impossible to decide between them; but since the prize for being the outstanding club member is a four-year scholarship to State College, some selection had to be made. So Mr. Harrill went back again to the records before him. He analyzed them, compared them and called in others to investigate the matter. Finally, like Solomon, he divided the prize and decided that each of the two boys should have a two-year scholarship. The two boys receiving this honor are John B. and Fred Wagoner of Guilford College, identical twins, who have done the same club work and accomplished about the same results since they joined their local club back in 1933.

The scholarship award was made by A.G. Floyd, state manager of the Chilean Nitrate of Soda Educational Bureau and a graduate of State College.

Robeson County Club
Robeson County, largest in area and one of the most important agricultural counties in the state, took another progressive step on February 25 when 250 representative citizens met at St. Pauls and formed the Robeson County Club.

This organization is non-political, non-sectarian, and will include in its membership both men and women who will work for the general advancement of agriculture, industry and business throughout the county. More than 100 persons joined the club at the initial meeting, and plans were laid to have other meetings once each three months when vital problems affecting the county will be discussed and acted upon.

The club is largely the result of active planning and effort by J.A. Sharpe, editor of the Lumberton Robesonian. He received the staunch support of county farm agent D.W. Reynolds and other leaders. Paul Thompson of Fairmont was elected president of the new organization and future meetings will be held in different parts of the county.

48 HD Curb Markets Now Open
There are 48 home demonstration curb markets now operated in North Carolina, largely under the direction of home demonstration club women, and 2,045 rural women sold $401,108.19 worth of surplus produce on these markets in 1940. New markets were opened in Harnett, Duplin, Randolph and Sampson counties during the year. In addition to sales on these curb markets, rural women also sold $298,787.80 worth of produce by shipping to large hotels, institutions and individual buyers. A good example of this is the cooperative shipments of dressed turkeys from Anson County under the direction of Mrs. Rosalind Redfearn, home agent. Mrs. Cornelia C. Morris, extension home economist, also reports the sale of about $26,000 worth of handicraft articles made by women in 72 counties.

Improved Cows
When the Forest Hills Farms of Clemmons joined the local cow testing or herd improvement association back in 1935, the 18 cows then in the herd produced an average of 5,870 pounds of milk and 307.8 pounds of fat. After six years in the association, 20 cows in the herd are producing an average of 7,561 pounds of milk and 403.1 pounds of fat per cow per year.

The original record was good, said R.H. Ruffner in commenting on the progress made on this farm, because the feed cost then was only $1.16 per 100 pounds of milk; but the record last year shows a decided improvement. Last year, it cost only $1.03 to produce 100 pounds of milk. Good breeding and testing always pay.

Spring Egg Festival
C.F. Parrish, poultry specialist announces the second annual Spring Egg Festival to be observed during the weeks of March 6 and May 1. During those two weeks, consumption of eggs will be promoted by large national food organization and by poultry food  growers of North Carolina. A committee of poultrymen has been appointed to handle the campaign and it consists of L.R.H. Singleton, Cary; Thomas O. Minton, Champion; J.C. Livingston, Wilkesboro; James Honeycutt, Landis; D.R. Moore, Granite Falls; Mrs. S.C. Vann, Murfreesboro; Mrs. A.N. Wilson, Rocky Mount; and the Beckwith Hatchery, Acme.

Paid Its Way
E.E. King of the Burnesville community in Yancey County bought a farm, improved it and paid for it with the produce grown on the farm. He says it was an easy job when one has a variety of income sources. Last year, for instance, Mr. King sold $279.57 worth of tobacco, $40 worth of green beans, $40 worth of cattle, $58 worth of lambs, $32.40 worth of wool, $8.62 worth of fresh pork, $27 worth of pigs, $42.75 worth of butter and cream, $36 worth of fryers and $41.68 worth of eggs.

There are only 85 acres of cropland and pasture in the 187-acre farm. Corn yields have been increased from 20 bushels to 40 bushels per acre, and two acres of pasture will carry an animal unit where it took four acres to do so five years ago. Hay production has doubled; trees have been planted; and nine acres have been removed from cultivation and seeded to permanent pasture.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Electricity Can Change Farming, 1935

March, 1935, issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

Electricity may soon replace elbow grease for churning, food mixing, washing, milking, grinding, pumping water and in doing a number of other farm chores, thinks David S. Weaver, of State College, projects director for the State rural electrification committee. For the rural people of the state have awakened to the possibilities of electricity, he says, and are now awaiting the time when they can secure an abundance of inexpensive power through the extension of transmission lines into their communities from nearby power sources.

It may be that funds from various sources will be available to rural communities before long to help in financing the construction of rural lines, he said. However, there is still uncertainty about these funds.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How Life Used to Be in Wenona, North Carolina

“My Memories” by Ann Jackson, as published in The Precious Past: Reminiscences of the Way Life Used to Be, compiled and published by the Washington County Extension Homemakers in 1992.

I REMEMBER WHEN my mother came home from the Home Demonstration Club meetings. I would always inquire of the refreshments she had at the meeting. It was always “that shivering Jello with a dollop of real whipped cream.”

I REMEMBER WHEN there were no paved roads in Wenona, and they were all dirt. So was Highway 99. We always enjoyed getting stuck on the muddy roads after a rain, because we could be late to school! Neighbors would pull the bus out. If there was a breakdown with the bus, we had to wait for the county bus mechanics to come. That would really put us late for school. There were no phones, so I guess the only way the mechanics knew we were having trouble was when our bus was missing from the schoolhouse.

I REMEMBER WHEN I had to, as a child, wear those long stockings to school. When I got away from home, I would roll them down or take them off.

I REMEMBER WHEN there was a bus running from Plymouth to Belhaven every day to carry workers to the Pulp Mill. I would catch it at Mrs. Lucy’s Store on Highway 99 and ride to town to see my friends. Then I’d catch it at the bus station and ride back to the store. Then I would have to walk the mile home on A canal.

I REMEMBER WHEN a group of us kids used to get together and ride our bikes all over the Wenona area. When the weather was dry, we used to ride our bikes through the canals. We would ride down one side and come up the other at great speeds. I am surprised we never fell and broke a limb. We even formed a Bike Club at one time and had parties in the summer.

I REMEMBER WHEN the Wenona section used to have wooden bridges with banisters and railings over all the canals. We used to walk on the banisters from side to side.

I REMEMBER WHEN the Wenona section did not have any telephones or electricity. But my family had a Delco Engine plant behind my house; we had electric lights and running water at home. Today, there still stands the building we called the “engine house”.

I REMEMBER WHEN Plymouth was a bustling town on Saturdays. We used to go to town every Saturday and try to find a parking place where we could park and watch the people go by. Parking places were hard to find, and stores stayed open late on Saturday evenings. There were legal turn-arounds in the street at Water and Adams, and Water and Jefferson.

I REMEMBER WHEN Plymouth had a city bus. It ran out to the Pulp Mill, and nearly everywhere else in town.

I REMEMBER WHEN Mr. Nyal Womble had a drug store where the children’s shop is now located. Then later he moved to the corner where Latham’s Shoe Store is now. The teenagers used to “hang out and frequent” there. I never knew Mr. Womble to be upset or angered at any of us. I am sure he must have us thrown out sometimes. He was one nice man to put up with so many of us.

I REMEMBER WHEN I was small and going to Mr. Ernest Arps Drug Store and eating ice-cream out of a stainless steel dish. I thought that was big!

I REMEMBER WHEN I was older and would get those old-fashioned ice-cream sandwiches.

I REMEMBER WHEN the Plymouth Town Hall was located in the center off Water Street and a meat market was beside it. Upstairs was a meeting hall where Mrs. Laura Johnston used to have her piano recitals. I took lessons from her.

Home Demonstration members in many North Carolina counties collected reminiscences like this one to mark the 75th anniversary of the Agricultural Extension Service. If you are interested in stories from your county, contact your local Extension Center or the historical society.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

1934 Was Good Year for N.C. Farmers

March, 1935, issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

The jingle of dollars in the pockets of North Carolina farmers sounds louder now than it has in more than a decade.

One of the things contributing to the increased income of state farmers is the total of $13,141,978.98 they have received in rental and benefit payments from the AAA up to December 31, 1934.

Cotton growers received the largest amount: $7,090,603.16; tobacco growers, $5,658,055.02; corn-hog growers, $323,125.01; wheat growers, $70,195.79.

“The rental and benefit payments were made to the growers for adjusting their production,” said Dean I.O. Schaub, “but the higher prices received for the commodities have brought an even greater increase in income.”

Friday, March 9, 2012

McAdams Returns from War, 1946

From the N.C. State Agriculturist, March 1946 issue

Charles K. McAdams, who has just been released from the Army, has returned to our campus to become assistant secretary to the Y.M.C.A. Charlie, a native of Mebane, graduated from State in 1942 in Agricultural Education.

While he was a student here, Charlie served as president of the Y.M.C.A., and he was a member of the Golden Chain, Alpha Zeta, Scabbard and Blade, and Kappa Phi Kappa. He was a very efficient member of The Agriculturist staff, and he served as a lieutenant-colonel in the R.O.T.C.

Before he received his discharge, Charlie was a captain in the infantry.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

White Home Demonstration Members in North Carolina, 1957

From the North Carolina Home Demonstration study by Gladys Gallup of the USDA, presented at Rural Woman’s Symposium

In 1957, 41,500 white Home Demonstration club members were surveyed. Members were 57 percent farm, 28 percent rural nonfarm, and 15 percent urban.

Of that 57 percent living on farms, only 27 percent said all their income came for farming. Twenty-nine percent said some of their income came from sources other than farming, and 44 percent said NONE of their income came from farming.

Regarding women under 30 years of age, studies made in recent years indicate that this age group does not belong to formal organizations to any extent. Nationally, 90 percent of women 20-29 years of age had children; 38 percent had three or more children; and 11 percent work away from home. Eighty-six percent have high school diplomas. A third of marriages today are of girls 19 years of age and under.

Income of HD women surveyed in NC: 55 percent made less than $2,500; 31 percent made between $2,500 and $5,000; and 13 percent made over $5,000.

You can find more information online in the D.H. Hill Library Special Collections at

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

North Carolinian's Poem About The Depression, 1935

From the March 1935 issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

The Tragedy of Depression
The tragedy of this depression
   Is not the loss of lands,
Which with prideful joy we’d earned
   By the labor of our hands.
It’s not the loss of bank accounts
   We’d saved with some alarm,
Lest, perchance, we could not pay
   The mortgage off the farm.
It’s not the loss of stocks and bounds
   We’d managed to procure,
That, when apace old age comes on,
   We might then be secure.
It is not even the loss of home,
   The pride of every man;
 But the tragedy of depression is
   The loss of faith in man.

But less of faith is not the worst
   Depression’s brought about;
But remedies which God has given
   We’ve had the nerve to flout.
We’ve hugged to our bosoms
   All that righteousness discards,
And hoping for a better day,
   Have set up other gods.
We’ve relied on our President
   With faith he’d cure the pain,
While the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
   On the cross of doubt we’ve slain.
Thus the tragedy of depression
   To see it is not hard,
That, groping in our own blind way,
   We’ve all forgotten God.
--W.H. McDowell, Scotland Neck, N.C.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Teaching Former City Women About Farm Life, 1935

March, 1935, issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower)

“You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” they used to say out at State College. Now officials are paraphrasing the above, “taking the woman out of the city and the city out of the woman.” For helping former city women adapt themselves to country life is one of the new functions of home demonstration clubs, according to Miss Ruth Current, district home agent.

As an example, Miss Current points to Mrs. A.C. Robinson, Rowan County farm woman who formerly lived in Charlotte and Spencer, and who “didn’t even know how to milk a cow” when she and her husband moved to the farm a few years ago.

She joined the home demonstration club, learned rapidly, and today her canning activities, year-around garden, sewing and record-keeping come near to making her a model farm woman.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

N.C. Farmers Cooperative Formed, March 1935

From the March 1935 issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower), the official publication of the N.C. Cotton Growers Co-Operative Association, the Farmers Co-Operative Exchange, and the N.C. State Grange

Designed to coordinate the work of the 19 main agricultural agencies and institutions of the state, a new organization, the Farmers Cooperative, has been formed.

In making the announcement, J.W. Johansen of State College, secretary-treasurer of the council, said organization work has been underway for several months and that a program of work will soon be announced.

Officers are Dudley Bagley of Moyock, president; J.G.K. McClure of Asheville, vice-president; and J.W. Johansen of Raleigh, secretary-treasurer.

Following a meeting of the Institute of Farm Organizations at State College a month ago, a committee composed of the following was appointed to develop a plan of organization: Dr. G.W. Forster, State College, chairman; M.G. Mann, general manager, Farmers Cooperative Exchange; George Watts Hill of Durham; Dr. Jane S. McKimmon, State College; Claude T. Hall of Woodsdale; E.S. Vanatta of Wadesboro, State Grange Master; and J.W. Johansen of State College.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chatham County Farmers Featured, March 1948

By Frank H. Jeter, State College Extension Editor, as published in the Sanford Herald, March 29, 1948

There are probably as many good farmers in Chatham County as in any similar area, anywhere else in North Carolina. Most of them own small farms when you consider the acreage; but most of them are large producers, considering the progressive way in which they use their land. A good example of this can be found on the farm of P.F. Goodwin, Apex, Route 3. Mrs. Goodwin is the former Lenoia Yates, and the Goodwins bought their present farm, of 102 acres, in 1930, a little over 17 years ago. At that time, it had only 11 acres of cleared land available for cultivation. Naturally, Mr. Goodwin had to put in considerable time when not actually busy making a living, in clearing more land so that he could have a well-rounded farm operation. For the past 17 years, therefore, he gradually added more cleared land until now he cultivates 54 acres. On this 54 acres, he grows 10 acres of tobacco, three acres of sweet potatoes, both cash crops, 12 acres of corn, and 25 acres of small grain. Along with this small grain is 15 acres of lespedeza, usually harvested for hay.

Then, in addition to these cash and feed crops, Mr. Goodwin has 22 acres of pasture, of which 13 ½ acres were seeded to Ladino clover and orchard grass last fall. This was done after the land had been well limed and phosphated. He also used 800 pounds of a 2-12-12 fertilizer at seeding time. In other words, Mr. Goodwin says that if he is to spend good money for grass and clover seed, he intends to see that this money is backed up or reinforced with other money spent on plant food. That, in itself, is a great change in our North Carolina agriculture, but it means that we have come to learn that a good pasture is an important crop—as much so as any other feed crop grown on the farm.

Mr. Goodwin needs this 22 acre pasture because he has a nice heard of 24cattle. At present, he is milking 16 and is getting about 40 gallons of milk a day. He sells a grade “A” product at a premium price because he has built a new 11-stanchion barn complete with milk house and feed room. His cows a are a mixed herd of Jerseys, Guernseys and Holsteins; and the y provide an excellent income along with the returns which he gets from his tobacco and sweet potatoes. In other words, Mr. Goodwin is one of those alert North Carolina farmers who has found that he can continue to plant and grow his full allotment of tobacco, yet supplement this income with milk cows and other cash income sources. He does not depend upon his tobacco money entirely with which to buy everything else that he needs.

It is necessary to have some help handling these diversified farm enterprises, of course, so Mr. Goodwin has one share cropper and one day laborer. The cropper is employed, as a day laborer at any time that he is not needed in his own fields, and Mr. Goodwin says that this helps to provide work the year around. In fact, the labor on the place was used to help build the new dairy barn.

The farm has electrical current; and there is an automatic pump, which makes the dairy business less exacting that it otherwise might be.

The cows furnish valuable manure for building up the soil, and all of the open land is well-terraced with the necessary meadow strips established so as to slow up the runoff water. All the rows are run on the contour, and this further helps to hold the moisture in the ground for the use of the crops in summer. The open, cultivated land is covered in winter with small grain, legumes or the other fall-seeded soil building and grazing crops. Down in the pasture, there is a 2 1/4 acre farm fish pond to furnish a place to swim, to catch fish, or to water the cows. There are two boys in the family, Ted, 14, Bun, age 3. Ted not only enjoys that firm fish pond but he also finds time to take part in the 4-H club at the nearby Bells School. He has a purebred OIC gilt as a member of the endless chain pig club, and purebred Guernsey heifer as a member of the endless chain calf club. Mr. Goodwin also keeps two purebred OIC broad sows to provide meat for his family and for the cropper’s family, as well as a surplus of pig to sell. The soil on this farm is of a sandy loam nature, ideal for growing high class vegetables and the Goodwins always have a nice home garden.

In fact, they are using their 102 acres of land to full advantage. They have been so busy paying for it, clearing up more acres, building the two barns for the workstock? and cattle, terracing the farm, building the fish pond, and otherwise adding to the convenience and value of the place,and that they have not yet been able to fulfill their last and biggest dream. That’s the next thing on the program. It’s the building of a comfortable and adequate farm home to replace the old house in which have lived all these years. The plans have been made and if everything goes as it should, the Goodwins will get to work on that home shortly now and will be living in it by this time next year.

And it all came from the land by hard work, industry and management.

John Bunyan Snipes says that most Chatham County folks are forging ahead. Since many of the new milk cows are kept for a part of the time in barns, especially during such weather as we have had this winter, the dairymen have found that their animals do better when they have been dehorned…..

John Bunyan says some 29 were dehorned by Sherman Butler of Pittsboro….

Willie Lindley has a new grade "A" dairy in which he milks seven cows and he plans to increase his herd to 15 cows as quickly as he can. He is one of Chatham’s latest converts to the grade “A” dairy business. W.D. Wilson of Bear Creek, Route 1, also has a new grade “A” milking barn and just added three registered Guernsey cows to his herd. This spring he will seed a good pasture to Ladino clover and orchard grass. W.B. Phillips of Bear Creek, Route 1, had added a new lounging room to his dairy barn and has bought a registered male Guernsey from George Coble’s herd in Davidson County. Mr. Phillips also will seed five acres to Ladino clover this spring. These Chatham farmers know full well that fall seeding is almost always better than spring seeding. But when a man needs feed for his cows, he must take a chance on those late spring dry spells which sometimes ruin a newly seeded pasture.

The other Phillips families living in the Bear Creek section also are improving their dairy operations. Paul E. Phillips has enlarged the lounging room for his cows. He says that five acres of Ladino clover and six acres of grazing crops which he planted last fall survived the winter freezes and are growing nicely. He, too, has secured a purebred Guernsey bull from the Coble herd. Marshall Phillips is not yet selling grade “A” milk but is in the process of changing over from the grade “B”. He will have to dig a new well to get pure water free from surface run-off or carry his present well further into the ground. Spinks Phillips has only a small dairy herd and while he planted some pasture last fall, he also is adding more this spring.

H.A. Fearrington of Merry Oaks plans to seed 15 acres of Ladino pasture this spring. He may not have the time seed it all but if not, will finish the job early next fall. He has a nice stand of alfalfa planted last fall and believes that alfalfa will do about as well on is sandy loam soil as it will on his heavier clay land.

Some of Chatham’s new settlers are going into the livestock and poultry business. Harvey Brown from Chicago has secured plans for building a dairy farm out there.

Chatham farmers believe in their poultry business. Hatcheries and dealers placed 184,000 broiler chicks in that area last week. Ward Snarr of Siler City, Route 1, put in 184,000 broiler chicks during the recent freezing weather and, despite the snow and ice, the chicks came along fine.  Man of the growers have not been able to start their broiler chicks as early as usual this season because they heat the brooder houses with oil and oil, as some of us know, has not been available. Those who use wood, claim that the cold weather has worked them overtime, chopping wood and firing the furnaces.

John Bunyan says that one of the interesting things happening in Chatham farming lately is the activity of those farmers in the county who have lost their eyesight. For instance, there is Hesler Summerlin of Chapel Hill, Route 3, who is very anxious to partially earn his own living. He knows how to grow truck crops but is almost totally blind. It is planned now to get him small garden tractor so that he will not have to grow feed for his horse and then, with the aid of his wife, he can produce vegetables for the market.  His wife will sell these on the Chapel Hill curb market.

Minter Hadley of Pittsboro, Route 2, a blind Negro farmer, likes to grow chickens and has some experience in fattening broilers for the market. His landlord has agreed to build a brooder house; and the State Blind Commission will furnish the necessary heaters, feeders, water fountains and the like. The Blind Commission also is going to help get that garden tractor for Hesler Summerlin.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Halifax Farmers Harvest 'God's Plat', 1935

March, 1935, issue of the Carolina Co-Operator (formerly The Carolina Cotton Grower), the official publication of the N.C. Cotton Growers Co-Operative Association, the Farmers Co-Operative Exchange, and the N.C. State Grange.

A pride to any town would be rural Bear Swamp Church, erected by farmers in one section of Halifax County at a cost of more than $15,000. It is equipped with its own lighting plant, has a seating capacity of 450 and in addition has nine Sunday school rooms.

During the depression the church was not giving as much as formerly to the missionary, educational, and benevolent objects and had also allowed a small debt to accumulate.

But Bear Swamp Church members who had built such a beautiful temple were determined to keep the church going. Last spring, in response to a suggestion of the pastor, more than a dozen heads of families agreed to cultivate an acre or some  part of an acre and devoted to the church all the proceeds from the crops on this “God’s Plat”. Five bales of cotton were harvested from the land devoted to God.

At the suggestion of A.G. Wilcox, treasurer and deacon of the church, this cotton was pooled with the Cotton Association. Mr. Wilcox has been an active member of the cotton Association from its beginning. “I suggested that the church pool its cotton because I was anxious that we get every dollar possible for it,” said Mr. Wilcox.

The local debts of the church have been paid and it is again contributing freely to religious causes. “I commend the ‘God’s Plat’ plan to other rural church,” said E.R. Nelson, pastor.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Make Your Wife Your Partner, 1916

Editorial from the March 1916 issue of The Southern Planter

The Farmer’s Wife
When the saints immortal stand up to be rewarded for all they have done in this life, we wonder if there will be reward enough to compensate the farm wives. Many great wrongs are being righted, wholly and partially. Some of them by legislation, some because society demands it, some because of education and the tendency of human beings to be more thoughtful and considerate, yet there are some thigns being left undone.

By all of this we do not mean that farm wives are ill-treated, except, perhaps in a few rare cases. They are not actually abused, or anything of that kind. Farmers as a whole are open, kind-hearted men, and would be the first to resent any statement that they are not. Even now, when conditions are so much better than 50 years ago, there are many farmers who do not take the wife into full partnership. The good wife does her share of the work and often more than half. She does that work which is necessary to the advancement and comfort of all on the farm.

Oftentimes working twice as many hours in the day as the man, and more often putting more thought and sound common sense into the business than her husband. Yet a vast majority of women in farm homes have to ask for a little money every time they want to buy clothes for themselves. They are not allowed to be cooperative partners in the business, with drawing account on par with the husbands.  How many of them suffer the humiliation of being compelled to ask for that which is justly their own? And how many high spirited women suffer on account of this humiliation?

If wives were full partners on every farm, many improvements in country life on the farm, about which so much is being written and said, would soon be accomplished. The farmers’ wives in a community would soon get together in clubs and discuss their own peculiar needs in the way of improving the social conditions, the schools, the means of communications, the churches, making the homes more comfortable and convenient, keeping the boys and girls on the farm and many other vital questions were are not suited in the farmers’ clubs and unions. Furthermore, in our opinion, the farm wives, when they are full partners, will continue to settle many of the perplexing problems of life in the country, which the husbands have failed to do, though they have been talking about them for a hundred years.

Give the farm women the right kind of a chance and see what they will do.