Loblolly Garden Club Helps Out Exchange
By Judie Wiggins
Special to the Pilot
It was a beautiful fall Saturday morning, just a bit damp but the winds promised a quick warm up for the chores of the day.
The chief cook, Debbie Ewing, was already on the roof raking and blowing off all the pinestraw from the log cabin. The cabin manager, Joan Rea, was nervously holding the ladder with a stiff warning that Ewing better not fall and how she had no idea how much needed to be done. The Loblolly Garden Club members kept a steady pace of raking pine straw, mulching the beds, pulling weeds, and trimming the canopy of the trees until the cabin was showing a new face.
About two months ago, an unexpected heavy rainstorm from Hurricane Hanna left the Sandhills Woman's Exchange at 15 Azalea Road in Pinehurst completely flooded and, consequently, quickly out of business. With most of the volunteers for the historic 1810 cabin in their 70s and 80s, the devastation and clean-up seemed impossible. Little by little, the furniture, gifts and crafts, and kitchen equipment were all moved to a portable "pod" for storage.
At their first September meeting, the Loblolly Garden Club members brought up the plight of the cabin during the business portion of the agenda. It was agreed that a call should be made to offer some help.
After several calls, waiting for insurance claims and cleaning to be done, Rea and the club members agreed to begin the work Saturday, Nov. 8.
The charming little cabin has been a landmark in the Village since James W. Tufts, founder of Pinehurst, had it moved to the site in 1895. The Tufts family gave the cabin to the 'SWECPO', or Sandhills Woman's Exchange Cabin Preservation Organization, in 1933. Rea explains that it was first used as a museum and later was a temporary home for a couple of freed slaves.
In the late 1920s, the cabin was enlarged and used for ladies to sell their handmade wares.
"It's one of the oldest volunteer organizations in the nation," says Rea.
The Sandhills Woman's Ex-change is part of the Federation of Woman's Exchanges which was nationally established in 1832.
In the early days when families lived in the country, women from the Exchange would help other women learn crafts, sewing, knitting, cooking, etc. The little cabin gave many a farmer's wife a place to sell her wares for a little extra money.
Today's Sandhills Woman's Exchange began serving lunch in 1959 to help pay the bills and supplement the craft sales. Volunteer waitresses serve homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. This year is the 86th season for the cabin to be open from Labor Day to Memorial Day.
How can others help get the Exchange up and running by Christmas time?
"Call Loblolly Garden Club president Lin Cook at 215-0605 to offer your labor to help clean, dust, sweep, restock and display the Gift Shop," says a spokesman. "Can't help with the labor? Make a tax-deductible donation to SWECPO, P.O. Box 215, Pinehurst, NC, 28370 to help the cabin shine once more for Christmas."
Those interested can join the other 90 members of the Exchange with a $20 annual membership fee.
"This little cabin place makes the spirit of service in our Village bright and shining after a storm, so come be a member of the team that helps restore it before Christmas," says the spokesman.
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