Getting ready for a Cletus Party

Posted by : Staff Reports | On : October 28, 2011

Cletus Haning’s little house in the woods.

By Loretta Humble

I’m inviting 80 – only 80 – of you to a party – a Cletus Haning Party, on Saturday, Nov. 12, 1-4 p.m. You’ll have to buy a gift, and you’ll get a gift, too. You know, like lots of kids’ parties – you give something and you get something to take home, too.

I would really like 10 of you to buy your gift from me. You can find me at Cedar Lake Home Health and Hospice on Terry St. If you’d like, we can ride out there together.

This all started as a fundraiser so the Malakoff Garden Club can do more work on the historic Bartlett House property, but has turned into a lot more than that. The Bartlett House is very dear to Cleatus’s heart. She has put a lot of her own money into it, and an amazing amount of manual labor, considering she is 80-something years old, and about as big as a minute. She is pretty remarkable.

The fundraiser was going to be to sell tickets to tour Cleatus’s new project, which in addition to her Bartlett House labor, she has just completed. It is essentially a replica of the 1880s Ozark cottage where she was born. She has spent the last six months planning and constructing the house in order to teach her great -grandchildren what life was really like “back then,” to show how people really could make it pretty well with no modern conveniences. She hopes they might pick up some old-fashioned values by “toughing it” a little in a beautiful natural setting. It is furnished lovingly with lots of history behind the items inside, and is equipped with real working woodstove, rain barrel, and outhouse.

Visiting her unique little house in the woods will be a treat for anybody, but as we started planning this, we realized that, as wonderful as the little house is, the real prize is the woman herself, and she really should be celebrated. Elsewhere in this paper you will find the first installment of the Lyn Dunsavage’s story about some of the things this lady has done (Page 3A). Please find it and read it. You will see what I’m talking about.
So we decided we would just throw Cleatus a party – at her own place, and we would ask you to give her the gift that would make her the happiest – $25 toward work on the Bartlett property. One part of that party will be a tour of the little house in the woods. The rest will be touring her grounds and her own beautiful home, and sitting and visiting with Cleatus, hearing many stories from her and the folks that love her, and enjoying some absolutely wonderful refreshments. And then you get a gift, too: a copy of a wonderful family cookbook Cleatus’s daughters put together as a gift for Cleatus a few years ago.

Now, if you live out of town and can’t get here, or have something else going on that day, you could still honor Cletus by sending a gift on her behalf to the Garden Club. Every penny will be spent on the Bartlett house.