JULY 4: River Valley Museum exhibits ‘Rural Texas Women at Work’

In featured photo at top, long-time Hemphill County resident and famed waitress Alice Garnas visited Charles Lindbergh and his plane on the desert during a three-day visit.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ALICE GARNAS COLLECTION


Beginning June 25, the River Valley Pioneer Museum is presenting “Rural Texas Women at Work, 1930–1960,” an exhibition sponsored by Texas A&M University, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Arts Council of Brazos Valley and produced by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Rural Texas Women at Work” pays tribute to our rural grandmothers and their families in the middle third of the 20th century. Industrious and enterprising, rural Texas women performed the common tasks of housewives everywhere—cooking, housekeeping and doing laundry. In addition, they raised large gardens, tended flocks of poultry, canned and preserved foods for their families, made and repaired furnishings, picked cotton, drove tractors and took over the men’s work during World War II.

“Rural Texas Women at Work” uses photographs and explanatory texts to convey a sense of the lives of rural Texas women, the helpful programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Extension Service and the changes that swept across rural Texas in the Great Depression and World War II.

RVPM Director Wendy Wright has assembled an array of local women who exemplify the time period. Their stories will enhance the exhibit and illustrate the hard-working spirits of women, including: Maxine Cockrell Wilson, a Harvey Girl; Edna R. Bussell Bowen and Lucile Hammack Etheredge, both teachers; Elna Arvilla Anderson Miller, a journalist and printer; and Sallie V. Brock Horton Harris, a historian. Elizabeth Alice Mlekush Garnas, who was born in Austri-Hungary, once served as a waitress for Charles Lindbergh, and persevered through several tragedies in her life.

“I am very excited for the River Valley Pioneer Museum to host this exhibit,” said Wright. “This is an amazing opportunity for us to recognize the sacrifices, hardships, and accomplishments of women during the Great Depression, World War II, 1950s and the 1960s. The best part of this exhibit is that I get to share the history of Hemphill County’s housewives, clerks, waitresses, and teachers. Each of these ladies made their mark here and they deserve to be remembered for their contributions.”

The exhibition will be on display June 25 to July 31. For more information about viewing hours or to arrange group visits, contact RVPM Director Wendy Wright at 806.323.6548.

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