By Sam Sagastume
The Better Homes Campaign, sponsored by the Cass County Council of Farm Women, was an opportunity for local families to learn about, make, and view easy and inexpensive improvements to home and community.
On November 15, 1929, at their annual meeting to plan the next year’s work, the Cass County Council of Farm Women decided to sponsor a home in each community that had done extension work in More Attractive Homes and More Attractive Home Grounds. At the next meeting, there were nine volunteered homes, and four volunteered later.
In December of that same year, Miss Rocheford, State Specialist in More Attractive Homes from the College of Agriculture, and Margaret Nelson, County Home Demonstration Agent, visited each demonstrator and gave suggestions on the work to be done. Then, they visited them in March to check on their progress and offer help. Nelson gave 21 interior decorating demonstrations, including color harmony, house furnishings, chair reseating and upholstering, and lamp shades.
Here are examples of two locations that were featured during Better Homes Week:
The Davis Home
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Davis bought their farm on March 1, 1930 and immediately began making improvements. On the outside of the house, they put in foundation planting, perennial borders, and screen plants.
Mrs. Davis tied her son, Frankie’s, little express wagon to the back of the car to bring the stones for this birdbath. The construction was done by her two uncles who were stonemasons.
Mrs. Davis, being “exceptionally skillful with a saw and hammer,” made the sewing cabinet and darn and patch cabinet as well as the stool, which she made from pieces of walnut she picked up on her father’s homestead.
Mr. and Mrs. Davis also installed a water system and built-in cupboards in their kitchen.
The Gregg Home
Mrs. D.M. Gregg’s goal was to make her home community, Centerview, the best in the country. Her interest in the beauties of nature, including a well-planted lawn and two flower gardens, influenced her decision to install a lily pool in her yard.
During a lull in the farming season, she hired a man to dig an irregularly-shaped pool that was 25 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 4 feet deep. Mrs. Gregg was highly involved in the construction of the pool, mixing the concrete, placing reinforcements, and carefully mixing and coloring the last coat of cement. The pool was watered through a gutter fixed on the garage, an extra tankful of water being supplied during dry months.
Desiring a more natural look, Mrs. Gregg went in search of stones, taking long trips in her hunt. Her husband, amused by her wide-ranging quests, brought her three loads of stones from a farm nearby. The pool became verdant with six varieties of water lilies as well as flowers, vines, succulents, and oxygenating plants. Small fish, tadpoles, frogs, snails, freshwater clams, and algae-eating scavengers rounded out the new ecosystem. Over 100 people visited the lily pool on the first day of the Better Homes tour. Afterward, up to 25 visitors came daily.
All in all,14 homes were improved, 4 lily pools were built, and many civic improvements were made throughout Cass County during Better Homes Week.
Source: “Better Homes Campaign, Cass County, Missouri.” 1930.