Dookie CWA to celebrate 90th year in July

By Rodney Woods

It was the year former prime minister Bob Hawke was born, New Zealand horse Nightmarch won the Melbourne Cup and Sir Donald Bradman scored his first Test-match century for Australia.

But in Dookie, 1929 will be remembered as the year the town’s Country Women’s Association branch was formed.

The branch started with a group of about 40 members, including president Kath Gibson, deputy president Eleanor Ryan, secretary Marion Henderson and treasurer Jean Knox.

Now with only 10 members, the group will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Dookie branch on July 19 — the same date as the first meeting, although it was not planned that way.

‘‘They had their first meeting on the 19th of July, 1929,’’ current treasurer Margaret Feldtmann said.

‘‘We picked our date a little while ago without anyone knowing that and it’s the same date as we are going to have our 90th birthday celebration.’’

Mrs Feldtmann explained why the branch started and the reason for it being so strong early on.

‘‘It was the days of gigs and horses, there were very few cars,’’ she said.

‘‘If they ever went anywhere they either hired a car or went in someone’s car or went in the gigs.

‘‘Early on, it started because people on farms and in country towns never met anybody — they couldn’t.

‘‘This was to get them together and try different things. That’s why it got started.

‘‘We were quite a big branch for a long time because the (Dookie agricultural) college was a very big place and it was almost another town and the women from out there — the wives of the lecturers — they joined the CWA because it was one way for them to meet people in Dookie.’’

Mrs Feldtmann — a member for 58 years — said her mother signed her up and she had never looked back.

‘‘I joined because my mother put me in,’’ she said.

‘‘I joined before I was married and have been in it ever since.’’

Fellow members Julia McKay and current vice-president Vicki Johnstone, joined because of family member connections to CWA groups around the region.

‘‘My grandmother was in the Shepp East CWA and we’ve got quite a few of her articles of handwork so it’s something I always wanted to do,’’ Ms McKay said.

‘‘It’s been really terrific. I just really enjoy the other women and I enjoy working in a group to achieve things and hopefully pick up some skills along the way.

‘‘Being in the CWA it’s wonderful that there’s always someone to ask if you’re not sure about something, like I was making plum jam and I had to ask Margaret what something meant in a recipe that I didn’t understand.

‘‘The other women are such a good resource for each other.’’

‘‘My mother-in law was in the Dookie group and my mother was in CWA in her youth,’’ Mrs Johnstone said.

‘‘I’ve always wanted to join but I just didn’t think I had the time until now.’’

The current members are on the lookout for needlework, knitting or craft made by former members of the Dookie branch to display in the St Andrew’s Uniting Church Hall on the day of the celebration.

■If you are able to supply any work, or for more information, phone Julia McKay on 0438 251 001.

■The 90th anniversary party will be held on Friday, July 19 from 1.30pm.