By Jessica Nickels, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
As we celebrate the 100th year of Cooperative Extension, we continue to uncover stories of the past that depict how important the Extension program has been in Garfield County.
In 1940, Garfield County Cooperative Extension participated in the Cotton Mattress Demonstration Program, sponsored by the Extension Service in cooperation with the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA).
This was unique program that gave more than 1 million Americans a comfortable place to sleep and helped cotton farmers get a fair price for a surplus crop.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided cotton, ticking and needles to families earning less than $400 per year so they could make their own mattresses. County agents taught people how to sew the mattresses. A government pamphlet about the program said a family of three qualified for one mattress. A family of five could have two.
In Garfield County, applications were sent out, and 27 families were approved by the AAA Committee. The project took place in Convention Hall, scales were borrowed from a local grocery store and sewing machines were rented from the Singer Sewing Machine Shop in town. To help finance the program, each family who made a mattress paid 50 cents, which helped cover the cost of thread, needles and the rent of the sewing machines.
Families that participated were asked to come and make the ticks for their mattress and then return the next day to complete the project. Mrs. Ray Beverlin was the cotton mattress chairman and made sure each mattress was made with only the supplies needed. Cotton bales were opened and cotton was weighed for each mattress. Once filled, the men used hoe handles to beat the cotton down to even it out. The county spent six days helping families complete the mattress. Families were very appreciative of the mattress they made and for many, it was the first mattress they had owned.
Nickels, MS, RD/LD, is Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Sciences educator for Garfield County.