Members of the Genesee County 4-H Dairy Club recently completed a series of interviews with 4-H alumni in Genesee County.

The goal of the project was to learn about the alumni’s 4-H experiences and learn how 4-H has changed during the last 70 years. The alumni include local leaders, business owners and mentors.

Sixteen interviews were conducted. The first of these appears today. Look for additional interviews in upcoming Lifestyles/Extras.

Today’s interview with Esther Johnson was conducted by Bing Zuber, a fourth-year member of the Genesee County 4-H Dairy Club and the Chops and Hocks Swine Club.

Bing took a few moments on a Sunday after church to interview, Mrs. Johnson, who was a member of the Genesee County 4-H program in 1937 and 1938.

Following is the conversation between one young 4-Her and one 4-H alumnus:

Mrs. Johnson would you like to share your age with me?: “I am 92 years old.”

Were you a member of a 4-H Club? “No, there were no clubs. But we met as a group at our school. Our school, Daws Corner School, sat on the corner at the intersection of Route 98 and Batavia/Elba Townline Road, Elba.”

Can you tell me about your 4-H Group? “Mrs. Henries was our 4-H leader. She taught us so many baking and sewing projects. She was a great teacher. We only had a coal stove at our school, but we were still able to learn cooking skills, like how to measure flour properly. There were 12 girls in my class that completed the 4-H projects as a group. We would meet during school once a month to complete our projects. I can remember Mr. Merton was the county extension agent at that time.”

Did you ever enter any projects at the county fair? Can you tell me about them? “Yes, I entered baked goods at the fair. One year I entered muffins. I earned a red ribbon with those muffins. All week, there was a man asking to buy those muffins. So when the end of the week came, he gave me 10 cents for those muffins and he ate them right there, at the fair.”

What was the Genesee County Fair like in 1938? “OH,it was a lot of fun! It was by the racetrack, at the same location it’s at now. There were the barns for the sheep, pigs, cows, horses, chickens, and ducks. There was also a building called the Floral Hall where all the flowers were. I had so much fun spending the week with my friends. I can remember the Ramp show of Lucky Teter. He was a stunt daredevil. They would jump cars off ramps onto new ramps. It was a great show. And I also remember the Balloon Stunt show with Eddie Allen & Sisters, The Flying Allens.”

Would you recommend youth, today, to join a 4-H Program? Why? “I think it’s a good thing for kids, I really do. I think it helps teach responsibility. And, although I never had an animal project, my nieces and nephews had shown animals and I think it’s great for the kids to teach them responsibility.”

How do you think your 4-H experience affected you and your life? “I learned a lot about cooking and sewing. I have nothing against sports, but I think 4-H provides skills that last a lifetime!”

Thank you, Mrs. Johnson, for sharing your 4-H memories with me.

– Bing Zuber

Johnson Newspapers 7.1