Extension clubs more than gatherings for lonely moms

By Don McAlavy: Curry historian

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

Now that is what I always thought.

The reason my mother’s club, the Claud Rainy Day Club was started was spelled out by Edna H. Durand, our Curry County Home Demonstration Agent in 1925. The purpose of the club is to teach women how 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 gossiping?

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, and she screwed it in the socket hanging from the ceiling and then she found out you could buy a socket with two plugins on it, and in which you could screwed the bulb back in … then she bought an electric iron, plugged it in and ironed our shirts and things.

Well, I thought she was doing pretty good with her old flat iron she heated on the cook store. Am I 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, instead of them coal oil lamps we had.

So, it’s your general feeling that Extension Club 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 and fancy stuff on top, to show off to the other women?

My mother didn’t share all this information 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), keeping us kids clean (a bath each Saturday night in a #2 washtub, my brother first, and my sister and I next, in their dirty bath water).

Mother cut our hair, patched up cuts and wounds, hauled us off to church on Sunday in our best shirt and pants, or dress for my little sister. I only remember 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 made lye soap and crackins’ and put in 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.

And she did all this, and more, without any pay! (My poor Mother!)