Old Family Tales

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society


Old family stories are not only fun, they enrich us and tell us about our ancestors and their lives back in the old days. If you have an old family story or biography that you would like to share (almost everyone has a either a character or a very interesting individual in their family tree!), please write it in your own words and email it to Sibyl and it will be placed on this page.


Orella Mae Jackson's Bedroom Improvement

This charming article was printed in the Canton Herald, Friday, July 7, 1933. It really shows how life was on the farm in the 1930's. They fixed up, made do or did without. Orella Mae Jackson may have thought that she was "poor" but she was rich indeed with the kind of character and spirit that we envy today.


The following is the story of Orella Mae Jackson's bedroom improvement. Orella Mae is one of the outstanding girls of Van Zandt county, having won second place in the county bedroom improvement contest:

"I joined the Morince 4-H girls club in January, 1933, and as I have always wanted a room I could call my own I took bedroom for my demonstration.

"As we are tenant farmers and moved here this year from Oklahoma, this room I planned for my bedroom had been used as a junk room, so you can readily see it was in need of repair.

"Mrs. Mary Ethel Brandon, county home demonstration agent, met at my house with five other club members, March 8. With her help we discussed the possibilities of my room which contained a bed, machine, dresser, cedar chest and a linoleum rug. The walls had dark, torn and circled paper. The wood work was unfinished and the floor was rough and not stained. We found by doing over the furniture it could be used and by rearranging the furniture the room could be made to appear larger.

"My mother agreed to help me and I started to work immediately while the demonstration was fresh on my mind so that I would leave nothing out if possible.

"The first thing I did was to draw out ten big nails from the wall that had been used for hanging clothes and other articles, tear off the old paper, wash the woodwork with strong soap and water and clean the walls with a stiff brush.

"I then re-enforced the corners with heavy brown paper before papering. this was done in a light cream colored paper to add more light and give the room a larger appearance as it is small and oblong in shape.

"Before papering I stained the floor and wood work and with the help of my mother made a clothes closet out of old lumber that was lying around the farm. The ceiling had been painted a light color. This I washed until it looked nice and clean.

"My linoleum rug was almost new and I wanted to used it so I carried the color scheme out to combine with the rug which was a dark tan with brown, blue and rose floral designs. My bed was a white iron Simmons bed in good condition except the paint was badly scarred. I cleaned and painted it brown to match my dresser and in Mrs. Brandon's demonstration I found I lacked four slats having enough so I added the four and now I have one under each row of coils to the spring, this insured perfect rest and also lengthens the life of the springs. My springs were open to dust so I cleaned them good and boxed them in with old worn cotton sacks that had been washed. This keeps out all dirt.

"My mattress was made by mother. It is a box roll mattress and it is made from long staple cotton from the farm. This I covered with feed sacks. I also learned how to make a bed properly for the first time.

"My old cedar chest was sandpapered and revarnished. In this I keep my bed linens. I revarnished my old dresser, took off the back and hung the mirror from the wall. There are two small drawers for toilet articles and cosmetics and a large drawer for under clothing. I made my dressing stool out of a nail keg, paded the top and covered it with a part of an old leather chair bottom. I put a curtain around it and tacked a piece of old heavy coat material on the bottom to keep it from scratching the floor.

"The bath unit was a very simple thing to make to be so useful. We made it out of an apple box, put a shelf at the top for towels and wash rags and a space at the bottom for water pitcher and soap tray. On top is my wash pan. To protect the wall paper from water I put a white oilcloth on it. This can be cleaned easily. I made a tooth brush rack out of a baking powder can. It holds my brush and toothpaste.

"For my reading unit mother made a book shelf out of a plank which cost me 15 cents. I sandpapered and stained it and placed it on the wall just over my reading table. It holds my favorite books and they are always handy when I want to read them.

"I stained and bronzed a rock which answers for a door prop. It is red looking and gives a touch of color to the room. I also made a magazine rack.

"I added osnaburg [heavy cotton in a coarse weave, used for grain sacks, etc.] curtains of medium weight material for the windows, also rods to hang them on. When pulled together they protect the view from the outside and I do not have to use shades. I keep them pulled back to give all the fresh air and sunshine the widows afford for I have come to know these two are very essential for good health.

"I had a calendar picture of the Spring song for which I made a frame with a glass that cost me 25 cents. My aunt gave me a bedside lamp for my table and also a bud vase.

"My clothes closet was made with a shelf across the top for hats, a rod just under this for racks to hang my outer clothing on. To this I added shoe bags, hose bags, handkerchief bag, laundry bag and a rack for belts and ties. My little sister shares my room with me so the closet was made large enough for her things too."

Wall Paper................$ .87
Book shelf......................15
Paint-stain....................1.00
Table............................1.00
Curtain Material...........1.20
Curtain Rods...................25
Frame and Glass.............25

Total..........................$4.72


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This page last updated 29 May 2007

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