Down the Lane: Proud to be a homemaker then and now

Published 7:15 pm Thursday, April 25, 2019

This past Tuesday evening the Clark County homemakers groups celebrated another year in homemakers by attending the big meeting of the year, the annual meeting.

Each year there is a theme for the meeting. This year’s theme was “Exploring Kentucky and Our Clark County Heritage.”

The different homemaker groups each year decorate a table relating to the topic.As a group, we try to come up with an idea to go along with the theme.

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It makes it fun and exciting when we go to the meeting and see all the different takes from each homemaker club and see how they decorate their table.

They are always unique and different. This year my club, the Towne and Country Homemakers, decided on the ways our county had become most known for their products.

It was a given to me that an Ale-8-One bottle had to be on our table. For as long as I could remember, there was Ale-8. I remember it costing only five cents a bottle.

I can remember as plain as day the first time I took a drink of Ale-8. It was in the middle of a tobacco field.

My dad had sent my Uncle Ray to the Kiddville grocery store to pick up Ale-8s for the men working in the tobacco field.

He brought me one too. Since I adored my Uncle Ray, I followed him to the tobacco field.

If someone had said Ale-8 would have been served all over the United States one day, I bet my Uncle Ray and my dad would have found that to be hilarious. It is now a fact.

I immediately thought our table should hold Ale-8 bottles and we could fill them with spring flowers for color, which we did.

I also thought of all the turkey farms in Winchester. My mom had worked for the Browning turkey facility in Winchester. I knew there was also Berryman’s Turkey farm.

Closer to my home was the Bush Turkey Farm.

I always thought it surprising that the turkey served at the White House to President Dwight D. Eisenhower one Thanksgiving Day came from a turkey farm in Winchester.

Our table held turkeys to represent the turkey farms. I also thought of the farms through the years that raised, cattle, sheep, hogs and goats.

I decided we needed to include animals in our decorating. Other farms made their living from tobacco.

Many homemaker wives throughout Clark County were taken from the kitchen to help out on the family farm and often had to drop everything to drive a tractor when needed.

They were required to help tobacco or cook for work hands.

I was one of those women for the 20 years I was married to a farmer. When the Clark County Homemakers began, most of the women who joined fit that picture and often did the same thing.

After people discovered the tobacco products caused cancer, the tobacco industry is now fading away.

I thought of Yeiser Eggs in Clark County that sold many eggs across Kentucky. I also thought of the women who sold eggs and raised chickens to eat at the kitchen table.

Two egg baskets holding eggs also graced our table.

In the 1950s when the Clark County Homemakers began, some homes had just gotten electricity and others that were still using kerosene lanterns. Milk was being churned to make butter.

Gardens were grown to feed the family in both the summer and the winter. Most of the meat also came from the farm on which the homemaker ladies lived.

They often canned the vegetables on an open fire outside with a galvanized tub. It would be years later before the microwave oven would be in every household.

I was 21 years old when I joined homemakers in Clark County. I have seen many changes during the 50 years that I have been a member.

I have learned so much from my time as a member because of the many lessons I have heard. I treasure the friendships I have made through these 50 years.

I have met ladies not only within my club but across the county. These ladies are wonderful ladies and their friendships I hold dear.

My love of crafts got fed through the craft workshops offered and the patient ladies who taught me how to make baskets, crochet, knit and paint.

Though I am not as good as most of the other ladies, I have had a great time learning.

As the years have passed, the Clark County homemakers have gone from canning outside in a tub to a pressure cooker.

Instead of taking their meat to a meat locker for freezing, they purchased freezers for their own homes. Now an Instapot helps to cook food quickly. People can even can food in a pressure cooker.

Homemakers used to never go to a restaurant to eat for the meetings but instead, the sessions were in a homemaker’s home. Now, the food has gotten so expensive to purchase that farms are nearly gone.

It is easier to meet in a restaurant, and everyone buys their meal, and you don’t need to spend hours getting ready for the meetings. We still enjoy going to the homes the best, however.

Then, the extension service was a small room in the bottom of the courthouse. As the homemaker groups grew, the room quickly became too small.

Thanks to a group of homemakers going before the fiscal court in the 1980s, I think, to beg for a new building. I was one of the homemaker ladies who went.

Clark County now has an extension service office to be proud of where people can do meetings and crafts in a spacious setting.

The homemakers have done much for this county and have gained respect throughout the county. I have been proud to be a homemaker member in Clark County both then and now.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.