The old country school triggers memories from childhood. Longtime friends Jean Ann Privett, 78, and Mary Jane Seagle, 80, sit in the former lunchroom, remembering school days and playground fun. While they played “jumping plank” — a seesaw-like game — their moms were inside, learning new ways to improve the lives of their families.
Most women in the northern Cleveland County farm community of Belwood looked forward to meetings of the home demonstration club. Led by a county extension agent, the sessions were a welcome outlet in rural areas where opportunities were limited.
Located between Shelby and Morganton, Belwood has a population just under 1,000 and has never had a stoplight. Motorists on NC Highway 18 zip past town limit signs, scattered homes and a few businesses, rail fences, and open fields, all without a glimpse of a well-defined town. They miss the closest thing, tucked about a mile off the main …