Recently public television honored the Radio Homemakers
and the role they played in farm wives lives. It made
me think of the clubs that my grandma and mother looked
forward to each month when I was a little girl in the
1930's. They belonged to the Centennial Club in the Riverton
Area. There were two other clubs in the same area, all
with different members the "Sunshine Circle"
and the Friendly Fair View Club.
Each club met monthly in its own little community. My
grandma and mother would not miss a meeting. All of the
clubs would occasionally help someone, who needed monetary
assistance. They did not have a lot of money but were
willing to share what they could. But the main reason
for meeting was a chance to socialize, something farm
women had little time to do.
What I remember most was all of the talk about what refreshments
would be served at the meeting. Each woman seemed to have
a specialty. I remember Mrs. Taskey, who made pressed
chicken sandwiches. My sister, Mary Anne, and I always
made sure we went along when it was at her house. She
made the sandwiches by taking pieces of chicken mixing
them with a chicken broth and then pressing the meat and
letting it cool. This was before buying chicken broth
in the can so she had to do everything from scratch. The
chicken was cooled and then sliced. I remember that great
taste as I devoured a sandwich that was a slice of the
chicken between two homemade bread slices.
My mother was noted for her Jell-O salad. She bought bananas
but everything else was diced fruit from that she had
canned. There was no going to the store and buying a can
of fruit cocktail. Grandma made a frozen dessert. She
started with the refrigerator pans used to make ice. The
bottom of the pan was layered with graham cracker crumbs.
Starting from scratch, she made vanilla pudding mixed
in real whip cream and then a can of crushed pineapple.
This mixture was poured over the graham cracker crumbs
and frozen. To serve it, she would cut it into serving
sizes then add a dollop of real whip cream.
I do not remember if all the clubs met in the winter but
I do know the Sunshine Circle met year 'round. In the
winter some of them quilted. If the roads were bad, my
uncle George Simmerman. would go across the road to his
neighbor and get a buggy. He would hitch up the buggy
to his horses and go after each lady. They would start
quilting in the morning, eat lunch and then my aunt would
take them home in the buggy. Once she got back, my Uncle
would take the buggy back to the neighbor.
Each country club in the county took notes and through
the years the Historical Society has been given numerous
journals from those clubs. Each journal is a glimpse into
an institution that was so loved by neighborhood ladies.
The minutes are important enough that if local museums
do not want to keep the minutes they are accepted and
archived by the Iowa Historical Museum or the Women's