Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chapter 13

Leah Nora Butts

30 June 1886 – 5 November 1975

Leah Nora Butts was born 30 June 1886 in the Aurelian Springs area of Halifax County NC. She married John Calhoun Myrick 12 June 1904 in Halifax County NC. John and Leah Myrick were my maternal grandparents.

The Calvary Home Demonstration club met in the club room at the Calvary School House on April 26, 1939. Mrs. J.C. Myrick, President, presided. There are several other articles in some papers in Mrs. Myrick’s scrap book that refer to her as President of the home demonstration club. It seems that most of the meetings were opened with singing and the club apparently read books. One of the articles quotes is “In giving book reports, Mrs. J.C Myrick reported reading The Return to Religion which brought about a lively discussion and much thought provoking comment.”

The following is an article written in the “History of Halifax County”, “Home Demonstration Clubs,” “1939” “Halifax County Home Demonstration Clubs”, Section G. The Article is titled “HOME, HEALTH, AND SANATION” and is written under the byline of Mrs. J.C. Myrick, County Health Chairman.
“One of the main objects of Home Demonstration work has always been to provide better health. This has been done by teaching the home makers how to feed the family, the best methods of preparing the proper food, and the latest methods of canning, preserving and storing the foods we raise on the farms.
Last year we stressed safer water supply; sanitary disposal of waste; vaccination against disease; and better insect control. A member of the health department met with every once during the year and advised how best to met these goals. Results were: 58 built sanitary privies, 61 screened houses, 70 followed other recommended methods of controlling flies, mosquitoes, and other insects.
“Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation,” was one of the rules prescribed by Benjamin Franklin as a guide for his own conduct more than 200 years ago and it is still a good rule to follow, and we as club members try to pass the idea to those who are not so fortunate as to be members of the Home Demonstration Club.
We have many opportunities of contacting outsiders, especially the colored tenants on the farms. They really get the benefit of our club experience in many instances. “Optomists” look forward to the extinction of disease, but it will only be after children are taught cleanly habits from the very first, brought up in clean, houses, and sent to clean school houses through clean streets.
As far back as Plato’s time cleanliness was prescribed as a necessity to good citizenship, for Plato said, “Early rising and much bathing are profitable to keep a man in health and to increase his riches and wisdom”.
Each year the County Home Demonstration club members observe Better Homes Weak which is the last weak in April. We try to do something to make our homes more attractive and better places in which to live. This year the keynote of the campaign was, “Clean up, paint up, and fix up”.
Many of the clubs have assembled first aid and sick room necessity kits. They may be used by anyone in the community needing them. They contain sheets, pillow cases, towels, bandages, antiseptics, disinfectants, and simple home remedies, that will be safe for anyone to use in emergencies. Our motto is, “Make your bit of the world more beautiful” and the goal for 1938 is, “Beauty through Sanitation”.
Another way we promote better health is by sponsoring the hot school lunch. (The method of procedure for both canning and serving these lunches is given elsewhere in this issue.)
A few years ago we launched a campaign to prevent pellagra. Mrs. Wheeler, home agent, and Dr. Z.P. Mitchell, health officer, visited each home reported as having a suspected case of pellagra. As a result of their visits and advice many cases of pellagra were helped. The club members assisted them in this worth while work by passing this on to people who were suffering from pellagra and by locating and reporting suspected cases to them.
Mrs. Wheeler is tireless in her efforts to secure the latest and expert information for us on all subjects pertaining to better homes, better health and sanitation.”

The following article is from the Roanoke Rapids (N.C.) Daily Herald dated Wednesday November 19, 1958.

“Calvary Clubwoman named Woman of the Year

Served as President for 25 years

Mrs. John Myrick of the Calvary Home Demonstration Club yesterday the honor of  “Home Demonstration Woman of the Year” in Halifax County.
Mrs. Myrick, who resides on Littleton Highway, has been president of the Calvary Club for 25 years.
She became a member of this club in 1921 and has been an active member since then. She also attended all short courses at State Collage for a period 10 years and has sold on the curb market in Roanoke Rapids for five years.
In addition to her activity in the home demonstration club, she joined other Halifax County women for a tour to Nashville, Tenn. and through the mountains. She also has been on tour to New York and Niagara Falls with the county women.
She has been handicapped during the past year due to the illness of her husband, but nevertheless, sends food to suppers of the club and is acting treasurer for the club.
She has paid each light bill for the club house for the past two years from her own funds.
The Calvary Club is her “pet project” and always has been.
According to club membership, Mrs. Myrick has been on of the most cooperative members and will go along with any project the majority of the club members may decide to do.
In addition to her club work, she has served as president of the Littleton Parent-Teacher Association while her children were in school: taught Sunday School in Calvary Methodist Sunday School and is active in other church work.
Her other self-imposed duties include visits to the sick and sending trays, cards and letters of comfort to bereaved persons. She also took an aged man into her home and cared for him for years.
The woman of the year is noted for “being willing to give advice and help any one possible.”
This article also includes a four column picture of Mrs. John Myrick and Mrs. Estelle White, Halifax County home agent in which Mrs. White is giving Mrs. Myrick a letter entitling her to a $25 War Bond.”

Leah was a farmer’s wife. Her activities were cooking, cleaning house, laundry, gathering eggs and preserving food.
I always referred to Leah as Mama and to John as Papa. I suppose I called them Mama and Papa because that’s what my mother called them. I also called my mother Mama.
Leah seemed to always be up early cooking. She made biscuits every morning and sometimes made biscuits more than once a day. She always had sausage, ham, fat back etc and biscuits in the kitchen. Usually there were other things like roasted peanuts, sweet potato pudding, banana pudding, fried chicken, barbequed chicken, to be eaten at any time. Occasionally other items like possum, rabbit, chocolate pudding, sweet potato pie etc would be available.
 I do not recall Leah as ever sitting down at the table to eat a meal with the rest of the family or quest. I am not sure of the reason for this. She seemed to taste what she cooked a lot and eat small amounts in the kitchen. She would see that everyone else at the table had what they needed.
As long as I can remember Leah always had gray hair tied in a bun at the back of her head? She always seemed to be looking down with her chin drawn in toward her throat. As she aged this became more pronounced and the upper part of her back was curved making her appear almost hunched back.
I remember her entertaining me as a child by playing guitar and singing “Little Brown Jug”. She also had a fiddle but I do not recall her playing it.
Mama (Leah) was active in the Home Demonstration Club and Calvary Methodist Church. I have seen news articles and I may have a copy of them showing her as “Club Woman of the Year” etc.
A few years before her death she was in Duke Hospital and had to have a leg removed. She was quite ill and I felt that when she left the hospital she was being sent home to live out her last few days and die. I also recall that when she got to within about 15 or 20 miles of home she started improving dramatically.

My first memories of going to Church were in the 1940’s when we went to Calvary Methodist Church. We went to my Myrick grandparent’s on Sunday and in those years we went early enough for Church. I believe Mama played piano at Calvary. Later we went to Church at Norlina but I do not remember why that change was made. We still went to my Myrick grandparents on Sunday, Just that we went after Church on Sunday rather than earlier.
Lot’s of times some of my other relative’s would be at my Myrick grandparent’s house. Uncle Murray, his wife Arlene, Murray Wilson, Shirley and his wife Julia, Corliss Ann and Wayne, Elsie Butts Wiley, Grandma’s sister, Edward F. Butts, Grandma’s brother and his son Edward.
I think that most of the time we would have Sunday dinner at my Myrick grandparent’s house. A lot of time’s I would walk over to Carlton and Jean Myrick’s house and go horse back riding with Carlton or riding in his pony cart.

By: David Perkinson

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