Blast from the past

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Grant County extension agent and husband bring history to homemakers at annual meeting

By Deanna Godman

The Spencer County Homemakers caught up with each other last month, as well as 16th president Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd.

The homemakers held their annual meeting April 15. The meeting is open to all members of all the homemakers clubs and their families. There were approximately 60 attendees.
The entertainment was provided this year by Nelson Doyle, retired history teacher, and his wife Joyce Doyle, 4-H extension agent in Grant County. Nelson Doyle performs dressed as Abraham Lincoln, and on this occasion, his wife joined him by portraying Mary Todd Lincoln.
The meeting started with a potluck dinner. The Homemakers Council provided fried chicken, and each member brought either one large dish or two small ones.
The Doyles captivated the audience, and even stayed in character to answer questions from the crowd after their presentation was over.
Nelson Doyle began the presentation by announcing that he and his wife were going to a play later that evening to celebrate the end of the civil war. He then told of Lincoln’s childhood and how the couple met. The presentation ended with Mary Todd Lincoln talking about the turn her life took after the assassination.
“I thought they were wonderful,” said Judy Broyles. “I think that’s one of the best entertainments we’ve had.”
The Homemakers Council wanted to have a Lincoln impersonator as the entertainment at the annual meeting in 2010, which was Lincoln’s bicentennial, but no one was available.
When the subject of this year’s entertainment came up, Mollie Tichenor, the 4-H extension agent, mentioned that she learned that the husband of the 4-H agent in Grant County was a Lincoln impersonator.
“I thought the entertainment was incredible,” said Donna Houghlin, adding that it often is difficult for people to feel engaged with history. “They made it interesting and funny.”
The annual meeting serves two purposes. It is a social meeting for the various homemakers clubs to interact with each other and bring their families.
It is also the meeting where officers for the Homemakers Council is installed for the coming year.
Mary Trice, Edith Judd and Cheryl Bowling are continuing in their roles as secretary, treasurer and second vice president. Broyles and Houghlin traded positions. Broyles is now the president of the Council and Houghlin is now the first vice president.
Houghlin received a pin for being a homemakers member for 25 years. She was working for a judge when Kathy Lilly, the extension agent at the time, visited and suggested she join homemakers.
Houghlin was worried about being able to keep up while she was still working, but Lilly mentioned she could be a member-at-large. That way she could still keep up with the programs and classes, but not have to attend every meeting.
“It was an honor,” said Houghlin, of receiving the membership recognition. “It is an organization I am proud to be a member of. I’ve met so many new people and renewed so many friendships.”
“The annual meeting is the one where we can bring a guest and one of the few times that all the clubs get together,” said Broyles. “We can see what we’ve done throughout the year.”
The list of accomplishments by the homemakers during the year is long. Members donated many volunteer hours, including working with 4-H kids, raising money for the school that the homemakers sponsor in Ghana, and raising money for scholarships.
“I like to go because it brings the husbands in,” said Donna Bulf. “It helps the husbands to know that it isn’t just to go chit-chat. We do good in the community.”
Houghlin enjoys participating in the annual meeting because it is inclusive.
“All the clubs get together and we can invite our husbands,” said Houghlin. “I think that’s awesome.”
If you have an idea for a future At Home article, contact Deanna at ideas@funmama.net.