My 4-H years were from 1955-1962. Although you could still record activities that overapped, there were three main focuses, one per year: Clothing, Food and Nutrition, and Home Furnishings.
Clothing included choosing items, taking care of them, and sewing new ones. Food and Nutrition focused on making good choices, cooking and canning, gardening, serving, and setting an attractive table. Home Furnishings taught choosing fabrics and colors, designs, refinishing furniture, even repurposing it.
The highlight of each 4-H year was the Madison County Fair. Members of the Penn Gwens lived in Penn Township, which is in the far northwest corner of the county. Our moms were busy farmwives so one would volunteer to take neighbor girls’ fair entries so the others could stay busy with their work.
Mom volunteered the summer of 1957, Food and Nutrition year. A popular entry was a One-Egg Cake. Every girl had to follow the same recipe. I baked one to enter that year. So did my younger cousin Jane Neal.
The moms brought over their daughters’ entries, which we assembled in the back seat of the two-tone Chevy. When we got ready to drive to Winterset, we discovered our cat Minnie in the back seat with white crumbs on her sweet face. She’d enjoyed some of Jane’s cake.
What to do? Did Mom call the County Extension Office? I don’t remember. But she carefully trimmed where Minnie had sampled, and the people checking in the entries probably said things like this happened all the time. I wish I knew what the judge wrote!
Mine earned a blue ribbon and was chosen to go to the Iowa State Fair. I baked another one for it. In those days, everyone got a blue, red, or white ribbon. A white meant that the judge wasn’t impressed at all. A red ribbon meant mediocre work. We all aimed for blue ribbons. My cake got a red ribbon at the Iowa State Fair that year, but what fun to get to enter.
We learned to keep an eye on Minnie, even around desserts.