This is the second in a series of articles by State Rep. Sheilla Lampkin about the history of Drew County EHC Council, a service organization that began more than 80 years ago.
The Southside Extension Homemakers Club is likely the oldest continuous EHC club in Drew County. It was established as a way to help the community. In 1918, Miss Lela Goodwin who was the Home Demonstration agent, organized clubs in various communities. There were three rural schools south of Monticello at that time: Jones, Scrougeout and Bowser. These schools were the centers of civic and social gatherings in their communities. Thus most of the early club members lived and gathered on the southside of Monticello. This first club established was formerly called the Scrougeout Club.
As transportation improved, the clubs consolidated and renamed the combined club for the areas south of town the Southside Home Demonstration Club. This occurred around 1927, while a Miss Lustre was Home Demonstration Agent. Miss Mabel Kitchens (later Mrs. Mabel Owens) replaced Miss Lustre in 1930.
Southside remains one of the most active clubs today. Some of the charter members were: Mrs. Emmett Jones, Mrs. Lukie Cunningham, Mrs. Kelly Wilson, Mrs. Guy Burke, Mrs. Jock Jordan, Mrs. J. O. Cooper, Miss L. S. Jordan, Mrs. John Gardner, Mrs. Ed Cloud, Mrs. Camp Chambers, Miss Ethal Jordan and Mrs. Ed Dozier. The first meeting was held in Mrs. J. O. Cooper’s home.
In 1930, during the time that Miss Mabel Kitchens was the Home Demonstration Agent, canning centers were formed in each community. The government provided large pressure cookers and cans. The farmers brought in their beef and everyone shared in the canning at these centers.
The next available history on the club skips to 1951. Mrs. Earnest Marshall was the president 1951-52; Mrs. Lukie Stockton 1960-61; and Mrs. Irvin Reed 1973-74. One early project in the 1970s was a four year stint at making bibs for the nursing home patients.
Southside presidents have always been active in the Drew County Council as well. In 1962, Mrs. J.O. Cooper from the Drew County Council attended the Arkansas State Council meeting at Harding College in Searcy, AR, and the National Council meeting in Lexington, KY. Mrs. Minnie Webb attended the State Council meetings in 1974, 1975 and 1976. Mrs. Glen Perkins and Mrs. Robert Francis attended the 1977 state meeting at Conway.
In 1978, the club made first aid kits for the fairgrounds. The club also works at the Fair Kitchen every year. In 1979 the club provided house plants for Royer Hall dormitory on the Arkansas A&M College (UAM) campus. Some other projects have included making pillows for cancer patients in 1998 and providing items for Options, Inc. in 2000. The club also made cap” for cancer patients with hair loss and made a quilt to raise $254 that was donated to the museum. The current project is providing meals for Hope Place.
Other past presidents include: Mrs. Ione Hines 1974-75, Mrs. Glenn Perkins 1976-77, Mrs. Bob Francis 1977-79, Barbara Shenk 1979-80, Jan Novak 1981-82, Jean Metettal 1996-97, Bobbie Bashaw 1997-98, Lou Knight 2000-01, Nell Cooley 2002-03 and Jean Calhoun 2003-2005. Stella Judkins has served as president from 2005 to the present.
The club won Blue Ribbons on their booth for the Drew County Fair in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1996; Best of Show in 1997, 1998 and 1999; and won two ribbons at the District Fair: a Red Ribbon in 1997 and a White Ribbon in 1999. Southside was named Outstanding Club of the Year in 1979. Della Francis was selected Homemaker of the year in 1979. The club also won three awards for its Project Book: a white ribbon in 1997, a $5 award in 2004, and Third Place in 2011.
Southside members today are not all from the original Southside area. Ease of transportation has brought together members from all over the county. For many years the club met in members’ homes but currently meets at Western Sizzlin restaurant on the second Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m. Current members include: Stella Judkins, Pat King, Brenda Chisom, Janie Fuller, Bobbie Bashaw, Leasa Bashaw, Willie Mae Harris, Lou Knight, Larry Fuller, Elmo Judkins, Ray King, Sharon Beard, Amie Gonder, Mary Parker, Clydine Jones and Edna Baker.
This concludes a brief history of the Southside Extension Club. Membership is open to all – and new memberships are desired.