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Village Neighbors Homemakers Club going strong...

It’s rare these days to hear the word “homemakers,” but there is a club in Kenmare that remains active and had a big day last Tuesday (Aug. 13).

8/20/19 (Tue)

It’s rare these days to hear the word “homemakers,” but there is a club in Kenmare that remains active and had a big day last Tuesday (Aug. 13).

All the members of the Village Neighbors Homemakers Club, along with three guests were present for the dedication of a bench that sits adjacent to the Spencer School No. 46 on the grounds of Pioneer Village in Kenmare.

Following the dedication and a few words, the club had a root beer float social inside the school house.

One of the guests, Pam Duerre, is Pearl Nelson’s daughter. She believed it was a heartwarming idea to make such a presentation in her mother’s honor.

The bench was dedicated to Pearl Nelson, a founding member of the club in October 1951, but includes past, present and future homemakers.

The bench was fabricated locally by Creative Industries.

Club vice president and historian Pat Lehman said the bench idea started with a donation from Nelson’s family and the original idea was to plant a tree in Pearl’s name.

But other fund raising efforts along the way that included selling cookbooks and other money given in memorials, produced enough revenue to build a bench next to the school that was also associated with the Kenaston area for many years.

“It all pertains to the school house,” Lehman said. “Gladys Schwartz was in the club and she taught in the school.”

Schwartz, who taught in the one-room school house in 1940 and ‘41, remodeled the building to get it as close to original as possible.

Schwartz became a member of the club in 1955. Nelson was a member of the club during the first nine years of its existence.

Lehman, who is also a longtime member of the club, talked about some of the things club members do when they get together every month.

A roll call is taken each month and a hostess is chosen each month. That club member has the choice of hosting the meeting in her home, at a place of business such as a restaurant,  or a park.

After the Village Neighbors Homemakers Club was organized, projects were done under the tutelage of North Dakota State University Extension.

Since 1971, however, no projects have been done unless someone wanted to do a demonstration of some type. That’s also the same year the club was no longer affiliated with NDSU Extension.

According to Lehman, the club remains active and actually has more members now than it did when it was founded 68 years ago.

It seems unusual in this day and age of digital and when homemakers clubs have disappeared off the prairie landscape.

But this club is going strong and has no intention of following other clubs that have ceased to exist.

There are six women on a committee to come up with the next year’s schedule. They do a number of things during their meetings including breakfast, picnics, teas and, as Lehman described it, gab sessions.

Looking back through the history of this impressive club of women, times have changed but the mission of the club has not.

In 1955, they had a lesson on freezer to table, first aid, sewing and a lesson on laundry.

In 1959, there were lessons on home management and furniture arrangements, as well as a picnic at Tasker’s Coulee.

In 1969, there was a lesson on fondue cooking and international cooking and by 1979, there were lessons on silk flowers and baked Alaska.

The club also had lunches after funerals of club members or someone in the family of a club member.

Today, there are 13 women who are members of the Village Neighbors Homemakers Club, compared to 10 when the club was founded.

Today’s members are Cleone Kolbo, Kate Ankenbauer, Holly Ankenbauer, Pam Norris, Pat Lehman, Donna Christensen, Dorothy Ankenbauer, Pat Caroline, Wanda Rodin, Sharon Nelson, Marion Nelson, Wilma Boughton and Lea Ankenbauer.

Ellen Bjelland, who works with Ward County Extension, agreed there aren’t a lot of homemakers clubs around these days because times have changed over the years.

She said it used to be the social event for the month, as well as an opportunity to learn something.

“Today, they’re learning things on the Internet or taking a class from a business,” Bjelland said. “It was a different time.”

Bjelland said there are probably more homemakers clubs out there  than most people give them credit and a select few remain affiliated with NDSU Extension, with most of those being in the east-central part of the state.

Bjelland herself, has been a guest speaker at a Makoti club that normally meets in Minot.

As far as Lehman is concerned, the Village Neighbors Homemakers Club will continue to meet for that monthly social event and will continue to do things for the benefit of the community they serve.

The first page of the Village Neighbors Homemakers Club lists the North Dakota Homemakers Creed.

Following is the creed: “I believe my home is sacred; a place where love, faith, hope and devotion have their beginning; where each has their rights respected by others; where joys and blessings, sorrows and disappointments are shared in common; where God is revered and honored; fellow man respected and love is law.”

“I believe it is my duty to live up to the best that is in me to attain this, to fear things unworthy, to conquer difficulties by daring to attempt them to be a companion as well as counsellor to my family, and to teach and live, love of home, country, fellow man and God.”

Lehman said recruiting efforts will continue to get new members into the club. It’s not easy recruiting, she admitted, but becoming a member is joining a new, close knit family. Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!