The Rinnie FCE Club began as the Rinnie Home Demonstration Club in 1934. Rinnie is on Hwy. 127 N in the northern part of the county close to the Fentress county line. Records of their early years, unfortunately, are nowhere to be found, but some of the descendents of their original members are still active in FCE today.
Through the years, they have had five members achieve the 50-year member status. Those include Loie Green (mother of Wanda Atkinson and Ruth Manis), Wanda Atkinson, Macel Farmer and Ruth Manis. Manis has been attending meetings since she was in her early teens and has formally been a member for 66 years. Wanda Atkinson brought her girls, as well as her grandchildren, to meetings from the time they were infants, and today her daughter Marsha Polson is continuing the tradition. The youngest members are Bethany and Lily, ages 8 and 3.
The only surviving 50-plus year member, Manis has wonderful memories of what she has learned and shared through the years of “Home Dem,” Extension Homemaker, and finally as an FCE member. She recalls her mother, Loie, used to can beans in a wash tub out in the yard until she learned from Home Demonstration how to use a pressure canner. Manis, at age 11, remembers two ladies, Miss Wheeler and Miss Worley, working with the Extension Service coming to their house to talk to her parents, Johnny and Loie Green, about a loan that was available for the poor to purchase a pressure cooker that had just come on the market.
“Momma wanted one, most people were afraid to use them. So Mama took a loan and bought it. She was very careful, and we couldn’t let the pressure get one mark above the 10-pound pressure mark! She learned to can vegetables safely, and it was wonderful!” she said.
In 1941 another skill they learned was how to make a mattress. Today, it’s difficult to understand how exciting it must have been to finally sleep on a mattress.
Her mother encouraged Manis to attend the “Hom Dem” meetings because she knew she would learn valuable lessons. Manis remembers her first trip to Knoxville with a Home Demonstration group. Her mother insisted Manis go and “Grandma” would watch the children. When she arrived at the meeting place, all the ladies were dressed up with gloves and everything!
“I didn’t have any gloves and I felt kinda funny. But the agent, Maude Keisling, gave me hers to wear, saying, ‘I didn’t want to wear them anyway,'" said Manis.
At this meeting in Knoxville, Manis learned how to make a simple baby/child’s petticoat dress. She was so excited when she got home, she made many of them for her girls out of flour sacks.
“So many of us were poor back then, we needed to learn ways to make items for our families from things we already had,” she said.
Their community outreach includes contributions to the Ronald McDonald House, Imagination Library, Bread of Life, the Love Kitchen in Knoxville and they help to sponsor the summer Bible camp held by the Hiwassee Primitive Baptist Association. They have also helped families whose homes were lost by fire and who have faced devastating health issues.
Their largest fundraiser is a huge yard sale held on the third Saturday of March each year at the Rinnie Baptist Church on 127 N. The proceeds of this event are used to help sponsor a Christian Bible camp each summer as well as other community outreach needs. Another continuing fundraiser is the sale of Rada knives and utensils, made with pride in the USA.
They meet on the third Tuesday of every month at the Rinnie Baptist Church on
Hwy. 127 N. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Their night meeting is perfect for those who work and cannot attend a meeting held during the day. They would like to extend an invitation to anyone interested in learning more about their club to call the Extension Office at 484-6743 or 456-9461.