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Bread, war effort highlight 4-H history
Liberty lore
0303 good mary 4-H 001
Mary Edwards, a 4-H member from Willie in Liberty County, won first place in the state in the 1939 bread-making contest. - photo by Photo provided.

An interesting book filled with hundreds of articles and photographs of 4-H Club members is “Blazing the 4-H Club Trail 1915-1980,” published in 1980 by the Emanuel County 4-H Historical Commission.
It is interesting to see the many changes that have occurred since 4-H began. The Liberty County program has 1,000 members in it today and is operated through the University of Georgia Extension Office. Kasey Bozeman, the county extension coordinator, and Gypsy James, the 4-H agent project assistant, are to be commended for the great work they do with our young people.
Around 1900, educators wanted to make public education more connected to country life. Learning new techniques in farming did no good for the old farmers set in their ways.
The educators decided the best way to get them to try new ways of doing things was through their children with hands-on experiences.
The club’s motto is, “To Make the Best Better.” The club’s pledge is, “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living for my club, my community and my world.”
Edna Fennell was the energetic lady who was Liberty County’s extension agent from 1930-40. She helped make life easier for many homemakers and young people in the 4-H clubs. Mary Edwards, daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. J.J. Edwards of Willie in Liberty County, won the Georgia State Bread Making Contest in 1939. She received a free trip to the National 4-H Clubs Congress in Chicago and a scholarship to Abraham Baldwin College in Georgia.
The 4-H clubs had many competitions at local and district fairs. Mostly, the girls entered their canning products. Tomatoes were the main items canned. Pears, figs and grapes also were popular canned items.
One girl selected green beans to can using the cold-pack method. She cut the beans in 7-inch pieces and placed them upright in a square canning jar with a glass lid. She won first place with the pretty jar at the local and districts level. Her mother kept the jar of beans for years.
Some girls presented articles of clothing they had sewn for their projects. Boys showed their fat pigs or cattle.
One girl kept a record of how many glasses of milk she drank over a period of time and how many times she brushed her teeth for her projects over a time.
On Oct. 31, 1918, an urgent call went out to all 4-Hers to assist the local Red Cross chapters in their efforts to collect nut shells, seeds and fruit pits to make carbon for gas masks in the War Department. Every 7 pounds of shells or 200 peach pits would furnish enough carbon for one mask. The appeal was for each member to furnish enough for at least one soldier with a gas mask.
Everyone was asked to plant a victory garden for enough produce for their family and others and for the war effort to feed the soldiers. That was why canning produce was such a necessity. Members were urged to plant a variety of vegetables that could be grown almost year-round.
On Feb. 18, 1937, the extension agent wrote to members that as it was shortly after hog-killing time, it was time to think about making soap for the home spring cleaning.
The recipe was simple, but I do not think I will make any soon! Take 5 pounds of grease (lard), 1 can of Red Devil’s Lye and 1 quart of cold water. Put grease in large vessel filled with water about three-fourths full and boil. Strain to remove foreign matters. Let cool and pour water off. Pour lye in 1 quart of cold water and heat until lye dissolves. Cool. Pour lye solution in clean grease and boil 10 minutes. Stir while cooking until soap shows signs of becoming creamy in texture. Pour into a cardboard box or mold. Let stand several days, turn out, slice, wrap and store. You will now be prepared to clean your whole house!
(Can one even buy Red Devil’s Lye now? I remember 60 years ago that Mama kept a can high up on the rafters in the kitchen. That is the reason I know what a devil looks like — red with a pitchfork in his hand!)
In July 1941, there was an Aluminum Parade. The 4-H National Defense Program required each boy and girl member to participate.
President Franklin Roosevelt asked each family to look around their homes and give a worn-out pot, pan, bucket or anything else made of aluminum to help make airplanes. Prizes were given to whoever brought in the most pieces and the oddest one. Two members brought in 13 each. Each participating member marched in a parade, had his picture taken and was given a ticket to a movie.
In Dec. 1941, the Department of Defense wanted old scrap iron to be turned in March 7, “MacArthur Day.” The scrap iron was to be used by Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines. Any worn-out plow points, scrap iron, burlap, paper, used toothpaste tubes, grease, cardboard, old rags, cardboard and old rubber were being collected. The 4-H Club built a salvage depot divided into sections for each kind of item.
This is a project that took place in February 1944 that, I imagine, they now wished had not. There was a letter offering KUDZU roots to 4-Hers under the farm program without it costing the member a single penny. “You can earn $1 per acre for setting them out. It is an excellent soil builder, grazing and hay crop. Plant it in 25 feet rows and 3 1/2 feet in drill. You can plant corn or other crops between the rows the first year. Use 300 to 400 pounds of phosphate per acre or 200 pounds of cotton fertilizer.”
In March 1945, all members were urged to save all their old cooking grease and fat and bring them to their next meeting. The need was more critical than ever, and the supply of fats was inadequate to meet the demands for war use.
In 1945, during World War II, 4-H members sold war bonds to build the “S.S. Hoke Smith” ship that launched in Savannah. It flew the 4-H flag next to the American flag.
April 1-6, 1946, were the dates set aside for the communitywide rat-killing campaign. Each member was provided with enough poison to kill a large majority of rats around their homes. Prizes were awarded to the club members who brought in the largest number of rat tails for the week.
In 1955, 4-H clubs across America were helpful in the campaign against polio, when the vaccine was made public and all school children were urged to get it.
I recall going to the shelter on the side of the Ludowici school lunchroom next to the old gymnasium and getting a lump of sugar with the vaccine on it as soon as it became available to us.
These were just a few of the many interesting items that related to the early days of the programs. Today, there are many different programs going on in the clubs for our modern times.

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