Friday, July 29, 2016

The Doting Grandmother's Club

Museum Musings for July 30, 2016

The Doting Grandmother’s

As I think of my mother with her grandsons and granddaughters I have memories of favorite meals, always having their favorite toys readily available and of photos displaying all of their milestones.  The albums would come out at all gatherings and she then proceeded to tell anyone who would listen about the adorable and later the scholarly or athletic antics of her grandchildren.  My mother doted when they visited as little boys and even now when my sons are adults she still dotes.  This week’s musing is about a group of “Doting Grandmothers” from Junction City that garnered national attention.
Mrs. Frank Flowers began the “Doting Grandmothers Club” in November of 1936.  When her granddaughter Karen was born she found herself doing what she had promised never to do, “I wanted to talk about the child all the time,” she said.  “Before she was two weeks old I had embarrassed myself by my public enthusiasm, so I said to some old friends, ‘Come over to my house next Tuesday afternoon and we’ll have a doting grandmother’s club where we can talk to our hearts content. Bring pictures, too.” Mrs. Flowers is quoted as saying first in a Kansas City article dated February 21, 1937 and later in the Junction City Republic.
In the beginning ten women came together and there were no rules and no by-laws they just sat beaming at each other as they were able to openly and without fear of rebuke gloat over their darling grandchildren. There would be no raised eyebrows by those without grandchildren or by spouses who while also adoring of the newest additions to the family sometimes nudged an elbow stating, “Enough is enough.”  While there was the fun and laughter; wisdom and knowledge was shared amongst these women. They as grandmothers, “were an institution of this world through which life is handed down through the generations,” according to Mrs. B.N. Mead.
The Doting Grandmothers became famous after the Kansas City Star sent a feature writer named Miss Nellie Snead to Junction City and the story of this unique group appeared in the Star on February 27, 1937.  When this came to the attention of other newspapers there were serious discussions such as the one printed on March 27th, 1937.  The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article about the differences between doting and spoiling.  This led to debates of how it might be considered interfering with a new mother’s method of child rearing to spoil or dote.  So there was finally a rule within the Doting Grandmother’s Club: ‘They vowed never to interfere with the mother’s method of rearing her child.  They may not always approve but they agreed the grandmother has no right to interfere,” as quoted in the Junction City Republic article from July 9, 1980.
In 1983 Sherry Blair of the Daily Union revisited the Doting Grandmothers at their monthly meeting.  At that time there were 14 of Junction City’s grandmothers who belonged to the organization.  The rules were still the same: You must be a grandmother and you must dote.  In addition to the normal doting it was fascinating to see how the grandmother’s had changed some were now college students, artists, and one was an accomplished quilter. 
Another special event that took place at this particular meeting according to the article, “Those attending the July meeting elected Dorothy Bramlage to honorary membership in the Doting Grandmothers Club,  “In honor of what she and Fred (Dorothy’s husband, Junction City Businessman Fred Bramlage) have done for this Community.” That was the first time that anyone had been made an honorary member.
At the Geary County Historical Society one of our current exhibits is called “Grandma’s Kitchen,” and it evokes memories of pies cooling on the window sill while grandmothers doted on their beloved grandchildren.  We are also very grateful for the generous support we have received from the Bramlage Family from our beginnings and through to present day.  So please come visit us at the museum during. We are open from Tues-Sunday 1-4PM and look forward to visiting with you.
Photo Courtesy of the Geary County Historical Society
Doting Grandmothers Club 9-21-1948 at the home of Hazel Smiley

Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23rd Musings

Museum Musing for July 23, 2016
Junction City Fire Department through the Years

At the Geary County Historical Society sits a hand-drawn fire extinguisher donated by the Junction City Fire Department.  It was used between the 1880’s and the early 1900’s to respond to kitchen stove fires, roof fires, and small fires. It was known as the Boyer Fire Apparatus which was manufactured by Obecnchain-Boyer Company of Logansport, Indiana.  The apparatus was approximately 11 feet long with the cart having steel-rimmed wooden wheels and painted fire truck red with brass trim. 
The cart was pulled by two firemen stationed at the cart’s four and one-half foot long tongue. When more speed was required a rope harness was attached and two more firemen were assigned to that task as well firemen utilizing the hand grips at the tank’s rear to provide push power. As the right wheel rotated it sounded an alarm as a striker hit the brass bell mounted on the frame.  All the wheels were four and one half feet in diameter.  The forty gallon extinguisher held soda water and was originally pressure activated when sulfuric acid was dumped into the soda water which created a carbon dioxide gas.
According to a Junction City Union article dated February 15, 1929 the issue was the method with which the then volunteer firefighters were alerted to the location of the fire.  As they were then a mostly volunteer unit they were not at the fire station when the alarms came through.  The majority of the complaints centered on the firefighters being unable to get through to the telephone operators when an alarm came through.  Normally the overnight telephone operator shift consisted of one person who had to call the firefighters with the location of the blaze, and then call the waterworks to start the pumps, contact the electricians to shut off power in the fire’s vicinity, as well as the business owners affected by the fire.  This meant that firefighters calling the telephone operator to learn the location of the fire were delayed in responding to the fire. It was not until June 29, 1931 that a new fire siren solution was finalized.  “The new city fire siren, which announces fires and heralds the noon hour, has a permanent home.”
Finally, this article would not be complete without mentioning “Snuffy”.  He was a Dalmatian puppy who was donated to the fire department by the German American Club.  The normally fidgety school age audiences at schools paid close attention not only to the firefighter’s presentations during Fire Prevention Week but to the small spotted face.  This is not surprising as it was the Junction City elementary school children who were charged with naming the newest member of the firefighting family.  It was Jeremy Winklemen who chose the name “Snuffy,” because “she can help to snuff out fires,” according to the Junction City Union article.   Snuffy slept in the front office and children were encouraged to visit the station to visit her.  Snuffy was a great at public relations as not only children but their parents would come and get to know the firefighters.  “The firehouse care for a pet seemed to convey that firemen are people, too.  Which was a good thing to learn.” According to firefighter William Wilcox.  
A special thank you to the Junction City Fire Department for their donation of the Boyer Fire Apparatus.  More importantly thank you for all you do for the Geary County community.  We invite everyone to visit the Geary County Historical Society and Museums during our normal Tues- Sunday from 1-4 PM.   On Saturday July 23rd we will be at the Spring Valley Historic site celebrating the “National Day of the Cowboy” with the Old Abilene Gunfighters between
10 AM-1 PM.  We look forward to see you.

Photo Courtesy of Joseph J. Pennell Photograph Collection at  The Kansas Collection Spenser Research Library University of Kansas.

Friday, July 15, 2016

4-H Free Fair

Museum Musing for Week of July 15th

This week’s mussing will be welcoming in the 2016 Geary County Free Fair by remembering Paul Gwin.  Through the writings of Josephine Munson printed in the book “They Made the Best Better,” a history of the Extension program in Geary County we will look back at the 4-H and Mr. Gwin’s belief that youth learned by doing.
“Josephine Munson remembered how Paul Gwin emphasized the training that would enable his 4-H young people to learn and know how to use parliamentary procedure.  “They were taught how to conduct a meeting, to speak before a large crowd, to work with each other and to be able to accomplish any job that needed to be done.  They learned by doing. He had a way of recognizing the potential in people, particularly youth, and then helping them to reach that potential.  Many of the leaders of the community since that time have been former 4-H members who learned leadership skills through working with Mr. Gwin”.
            “During Mr. Gwin’s tenure as Geary County Extension Agent there never was a “4-H Agent” to assist him in his work.  He attended most of the community club meetings, often led the recreation, and was available to help in every way.  Judging teams were important promotion tools, and he led his county livestock judging teams to state championships for five different years, and two teams went on the win national and international honors in 1942 and 1955”.
            “His county poultry teams won state championships seven different years.  Forty-five members won trips to the National 4-H Congress in Chicago, and seven Geary County 4-H’ers were selected to attend the National 4-H Club Leadership Encampment in Washington, D.C.
            “The International Farm Youth Exchange was started after World War II.  A number of Geary County young people have participated in this program, with the first one going to Germany.  In exchange, many from foreign countries have been hosted on Geary County farms, thus spreading good will and friendship between the nations of the world”.
            “During his many years as county agent, Paul Gwin worked closely with the County Commission and the Junction City Chamber of Commerce as they provided funds and special incentives for the 4-H programs.  A big picnic was held each summer for county residents to thank the local people for their interest and support.  With as many as 2,000 guests attending, the 4-H’ers took charge of the serving the meal and program that always followed.  Through the years, Gwin liked to remind this audience, “I have worked with over 1,700 4-H’ers over the years. Why, half the counties are my kids!” 
            “When it came time for Paul Gwin to retire in 1956, the farm families of Geary County made it one of the biggest events of the year in Junction City.  Appropriately, one of his first     4-H’ers, Marvin Polland, who then headed the County Extension Council, presided over the ceremonies that were held in front of a large crowd gathered in Junction City’s Rathert Stadium”. 
            Polland recalls, “We had plans underway for practically the whole year prior.  We wanted to do something really special for him.  We got the idea that if we could get enough donations we could buy him a new car.  You see, he had always used a county car before then, so this would be his first family car.  We were successful and were able to buy a brand new four-door 1956 Chevrolet, the best model we could get, and presented it to him at the close of the 4-H fair.”
            According to the account printed in the book “They Made the Best Better,” a history of the Extension program in Geary County,  first Marvin Polland presented the Paul and his wife with a memo book containing pictures and letters from hundreds of former 4-H members by then  scattered into all parts of the world.  Then after a talk by the Director of Extension at K-State the car was driven in to the stadium and Marvin presented the car keys to a totally surprised Mr. Gwin.
Please go out and support these young men and women who work hard within our community through the 4-H. There will be something for everyone; the Rodeo, Baking contests, a Barn Quilt contest as well as carriage rides and inflatable amusements and too many exhibits to list here.  The 2016 Geary County Free Fair & Rodeo has Pre-Fair events July-14th-16th, the Rodeo runs from July 15th-16th, and the Fair dates are from July 18th-21st.  The Geary County Historical Society will have a booth at the Fair on Thursday July 21st.  We hope you will stop by and visit.

The photo is courtesy of the Geary County Historical Society.