“Bring us into your world. What is something about your work (past or present) that outsiders typically don’t understand? It can be something required by the job, something that happens on the job, something you feel about the job—but whatever it is, do not exceed 800 words.”
Weekend at Camp
Late in the summer of 1937, I started to work at Ohio State University in the Agricultural Extension department. There was a State Supervisor, a Northeast District Supervisor, a Western District Supervisor, and a Southeastern District Supervisor.
We were very busy getting ready for the fall planning conference. I acquired a box for each county and put in them each segment of the work as it became ready.
Finally we were ready. The Supervisors were loading their boxes when Mr. Brownfield, the Southeastern District Supervisor, came to me and said they would like me to go to the conference for the weekend to serve as cashier and do any other office work that had to be done. Well, I was floored. I had not anticipated that I would have to go. I told him I didn’t have proper camp clothes. He said I could wear any old clothes, especially low-heeled shoes. He would drive me down home, which was a very short distance, and I could get ready. He would go back and pack up the rest of the boxes, then come and pick me up. We would stop somewhere along the way and eat lunch.
I changed into a dress I had made myself that had two breast pockets which made it look like a camp shirt, put on some ankle socks and low-heeled shoes, packed up a couple changes of clothes, some toiletries, and an alarm clock and I was ready.
The supervisors had bought some acres where Pickaway, Ross, and Hocking Counties joined and had a shelter house built there. They called it Ross-Hocking camp. It was new. I think that might have been the first time it was used.
When we arrived at the camp I was amazed at how nice it was. The lodge had a huge fireplace at one end with a little office at each side of it. I took one side (and very carefully read the instructions on one of the two boxes of rattlesnake medicine I found on the window sill). Everett Royer, the Ross County Agent, took the other side which was intended as a first aid room. My room had a desk and a couple of chairs. Margaret (I don’t remember her last name) was in charge of the kitchen. She had two cooks to help her.
As you may know Ohio has 88 counties. Each one had a county agent. Most of them had a 4-H Club Agent; a few had Home Demonstration Agents; and a few had all three. All of the agents came to the conference. Some brought wives and children.
When I had assigned cabins and registered everyone, I had an amount of money that equaled my yearly salary of $1,100.00. Remember, things were different in 1937.
As I remember it, we had corn bread and soup beans, plain cake and jello fruit salad for dessert, and the usual beverages for dinner that night. The evening’s entertainment was square dancing.
When the festivities were over for the evening, Everett and I were closing up shop. We had to decide where to keep that money. I had assigned myself to the cabin with the cooks and I didn’t want to carry all that money up there. He had about the same situation in going to his cabin. So his comment was, “Where are we going to keep that money?” I had been working at reorganizing our office files, and I had been taking a lot of teasing so I retorted, “That’s a lot of lettuce. Why don’t we file it with the other lettuce?” So that’s what we did. We took it to the kitchen and literally put it down under the lettuce in the bottom of the refrigerator. Then we checked to make sure everything was secure, and locked the door. He walked me up to my cabin and that was our day.
Next morning we were assembling for breakfast when Margaret came to the door and said, “Those of you who want black coffee or dry toast or the like let us know. We can serve you. The rest of you will have to wait a little while. Last night burglars broke in here and robbed us of all the milk, butter, eggs, and the like. We sent someone to town …” I had seated myself on the bench nearest to the kitchen so I could help with serving if needed and Everett was two or three benches away. We both jumped to our feet yelling “What about the lettuce? Did they get the lettuce?” Everett walked across the tabletops and we ran to the kitchen to check. When we came back, he told everyone, “Relax folks, they didn’t get the lettuce.”
Back to the other finalists.