I am an average woman of the United States, a married women with two children and an income of—well, I’m not quite sure what it is, but I know it is not enough to live on as we ought to live. But, small as it is, our church has been trying to get me to budget (horrid word, isn’t it?). We have a person called by a disagreeable name, Stewardship Secretary, going around and giving lectures on how we ought to spend our money. It’s easy for her to talk about budgeting. She gets her money paid regularly, while I have to get mine in dribs, just as I can beg, scold, and wheedle it out of my husband.
I’m very economical, I can tell you that. I don’t keep account of every penny I spend. In the first place, you understand, we must have a roof over our heads, and rents are simply awful. It’s even worse if you try to own your own home and keep up insurance, repairs, and taxes and pay the interest on the money you borrowed to buy the house with. I cannot tell you offhand what we do pay for rent—sometimes more and sometimes less.
Then, there is food. We must have three meals a day, and you know how men are about food. I always say that none of my family shall ever be reported for being undernourished, with delicatessen shops so close. I can always send one of the children over at the last minute for anything I want. It’s hard to say exactly how much we spend on food—sometimes more and sometimes less—but I’m sure you can form a good idea from what I’ve told you as to just what we do spend.
And clothes! I’m a good manager, and I never expect to be a back number when it comes to styles. Cut off for clothes just about what most people spend, but remember that mighty few women get the good results I do for the money I put into clothes.
We spend practically nothing on amusements—nothing worth mentioning. The only thing we do is go to the movies, unless you’d call our trips in our car amusement. I think trips of that sort are a real necessity.
I am sure I give all the unaccounted-for part to the Church. The money goes somewhere, and I always give the children a penny or a nickel apiece for Sunday School—whenever we get up in time to start them off. You look as if you thought I ought to give more! Well, charity begins at home, I think.
—excerpt from ‘Short Pagaents for the Sunday School,’ by Laura Scherer Copenhaver, Doubleday, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1929
Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver (1868-1940) wrote fiction, poetry, and dozens of church pageants, many in collaboration with her younger sister, Katharine Killinger Scherer Cronk. One of Copenhaver’s poems, “Heralds of Christ,” became a well-known hymn.
Copenhaver taught at Marion Junior College in Smyth County, VA and assumed positions of leadership in the Lutheran church and on the Marion social scene. Her father, Dr. John Jacob Scherer Jr., had served as pastor of Marion’s Lutheran church before moving on to the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Richmond, presidency of the state synod, and a place on the Inner Missions Board of the national church.
At the 1922 meeting of the Women’s Missionary Society of the United Lutheran Church, Copenhaver presented an address titled “Mountain Folk in the South” which spurred the organization to create a mission school near the lumbering community of Konnarock.
The Konnarock Training School aimed “to tram the mountain children into true Christian womanhood and manhood,” and provided elementary-level academic and religious education for Smyth County children who did not have access to other public schools.
At the Smyth County Centennial on May 27, 1932, members of Marion College, county high schools, and local citizens presented a historical play written by Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver. Miss Smyth County, Eleanor Fairman, spun the wheel of time and scenes from local history were acted out.
sources: The human tradition in the New South, by James C. Klotter
Smyth County, by Kimberly Barr Byrd, Debra J. Williams