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Around The Grange
Do You Remember: Alta Peck

By Betty Jane Gardiner

  NOVEMBER 11, 2012 --

Alta Peck served the National Grange as Director of the Women’s Department from 1954 to 1973.  She was appointed by Herschel Newsom when she and her husband, State Master Donald K. Peck were delegates from Connecticut to the National Session.  At that time the director was appointed to serve while in the delegate body.

Alta was a brilliant lady with many ideas which brought changes to the department.  Brother Newsom apparently decided to keep her on and the program grew under her long leadership.  She started new contests and convinced big companies to come on board as sponsors contributing prizes larger in scope.

For example, did you know the sewing contest was started as a fun project where the men were invited to stitch an apron - and from that humble beginning the National Grange Sewing Contest sponsored by Simplicity Pattern Co. became a huge event for many years until the declining interest in home sewing took its toll.

Alta championed many causes.  A trip to the American School for the Deaf in Hartford opened her eyes to the fine work accomplished there and she introduced projects which involved Granges in the school starting with the overhaul of the school auditorium.  The cause of our hearing impaired friends became a larger project.  The Grange Deaf Awareness program took hold- and in time became a strong standing committee on its own.

Alta was never happy with the department’s name - HOME ECONOMICS!  She felt strongly it denoted that the women of the Grange were “sisters of the skillet” - and she knew they were much more than that.  Many times she proudly said women not only took part in the homemaking skills of the Grange, but led in legislative matters, service to the communities, debates, local affairs, programming and all other segments of the Order.

Her dream was to see the name of the department changed to a more prestigious one.  She worked long and hard to bring about such a change.  It didn’t happen easily, but in time she won the battle and the Committee on Women’s Activities (which started way back under the name “Women’s Work Committee”) was born.  She could not understand how an organization which takes such pride in the fact they were first to give women an equal vote and place would have such resistance to change.  Wonder how she would feel today to know that in some places the word “Women” is not even used in connection with the department.

Alta served the National Grange in her position longer than any other woman, but her untimely death ended her term and left the work to be carried on by others.

Looking back at the contributions Alta made to our Order we realize we could have mentioned far more than we have here, but time and space wouldn’t permit it.  Let’s just say she gave her all for the Grange and we can be thankful that we knew her and admired her many fine qualities.

Do remember Alta Peck!

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