Hampton Homemakers Activities in the Rockingham County Cooperative Extension Service Program

Chapter 23 -- Part 10

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Local homemakers interested in continuing their education through the New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Service got their start at the beginning of World War II. Mrs. Roy W. ("Alta") Gillmore volunteered to be the Hampton nutrition chairman. After the Pearl Harbor attack and the declaration of war against Japan in December [7], 1941, family living conditions began to change rapidly. The Extension Service throughout the country asked for volunteers to extend information to their friends, neighbors, and communities.

Wartime food communiqués were issued to each state by the United States Department of Agriculture. In turn, Extension agents sent summaries to local nutrition chairmen for relay to others. There was a need to motivate New Hampshire voters to pass a law to enrich bread and flour to benefit human health. That law was passed and remains in effect. A Neighborhood Leader System was developed in each state to supplement the efforts of nutrition chairmen such as Alta Gillmore.

During the war, Hampton women voluntarily organized an Extension home economics group to continue their education on civil-defense needs, Red Cross offerings, price controls, victory gardens, and equipment rationing. Extension Service staff trained leaders and also taught classes in Hampton and other county towns. Youth joined in 4-H Club projects in town.

During and after World War II, adult homemakers learned about techniques for remodeling clothing, and repairing and renovating home furnishings. Workshops were held at the Beach fire station hall and at the Catholic Church hall in town. Each person brought his or her own furniture to these workshops.

Mrs. Homer ("Elsa") Johnson, Sr., was one of Hampton’s early Extension home economics leaders. Later she represented Hampton women on the County Home Economics Advisory Council. Local group officers polled homemakers on the most pressing problems on which the majority wished help annually. The replies varied yearly from World War II to the early 1970s. Canning leaders helped extend information and printed materials on food preservation and storage. Group leaders motivated interest for war-bond drives and coordinated information on fat salvage, polio vaccine, home health records, and "sugar shy" desserts.

Each Extension home economics group like Hampton’s chose its own monthly programs from a yearly list of educational projects offered by the County Extension Service. The women joined in the United Nations clothing collection for European war refugees. Hampton contributed to the Williamson-Babb Extension Scholarship for county girls majoring in home economics at the University of New Hampshire or Keene State College. They affiliated with the state Extension Homemakers’ Council. They remembered patients at Rockingham County Home by making many tray favors. Hybrid lilac seeds from UNH were planted in seed trials. Hampton hosted several countywide training schools for drapery construction ("Slick Tricks in Cleaning"), dressmaking, sewing, outdoor cookery, and simple home carpentry. County Camp Anita was held annually from 1947 to the present.

During the postwar period of 1946-50, there was increasing interest in consumer information on such subjects as freezing foods, improvement in school lunches, medical and hospitalization insurance, and the need for cancer dressings. Family-life projects and community improvement activities came in for emphasis. New fabrics on the market required continued learning for selection and care. New construction techniques were taught for using blends of fibers and new threads, interfacings, and linings.

In addition to the local Extension home economics group, other organizations in Hampton also received help on educational programs: the Mothers’ Circle, Hampton Garden Club, First Baptist Church, Future Homemakers’ Group, the Centre School, and Winnacunnet High School.

As more and more Hampton women took positions outside their homes, the need arose for an evening Extension home economics group. Mrs. Fred Anspaugh, Mrs. Everett Pillsbury, Mrs. Indulis Gleske, and Mrs. Barbara Daly were the officers. The women chose a varied program keyed to their interests, and they functioned as a part of the Rockingham County Cooperative Extension Service program. Individuals not interested in participating in a group experience have received Extension help through telephone and office calls, correspondence, printed materials, home visits, and radio and television programs.

The volunteer officers in the Extension home economics group were Mrs. Elmer Eldredge, Mrs. Everett Bundy, Mrs. Richard Waters, Mrs. Vernon Gauron, and Mrs. Winston Ireland, as well as the other presidents previously mentioned.

  -- Ruth G. Stimson
County Extension Home Economist, 1942-82
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