CHELSEA — Taking a good swing with her cane, 95-year-old Bea Campbellton knocked a plastic knife out of the hand of Karen Jones.

Minutes earlier, Campbellton had poked Jones in the stomach with the rubber-tipped end of the cane, and taken another swing, all at Jones’ request.

“Did you play softball?” Jones asked.

“No, I raised kids,” Campbellton said, getting a chuckle from fellow members of the Chelsea Grange on Saturday.

Part of the program was a demonstration by Jones in using a cane — and a few other common items — in self-defense.

The lesson was part of the regular meeting program, where members are treated to educational activities, said Jim Rogers, a member of the Chelsea Grange. They can range from presentations from firefighters — which they heard recently — and even a belly-dancer, who was part of a recent program at the Freedom Grange, Rogers said. April is Grange month. The Grange, also known as the Patrons of Husbandry, was founded in 1867 as a fraternal agrarian organization. Much of its work now is in public service.

The dozen Chelsea Grange members hesitated a little before joining Jones in a demonstration, and Esther Shaw, 87, explained they are usually peaceful people.

“You don’t have to be peaceful when someone is hurting you,” Jones said.

Jones showed the largely female audience how to swing, poke and even grab a leg or neck with a cane. She also cautioned them to safeguard themselves and give up their property if someone tries to take it, rather than fight.

She told them a cellphone can be their best assistant because it can be used to call for help.

“Always have someone you can call,” Jones said. “If you can’t call, no one can help you.”

Jones, of Augusta, is a preschool teacher by day, and also operates a karate studio in Farmingdale and offers lessons in women’s self-defense through Gardiner Adult Education.

Jones exhibited a cane modified for self-defense with a wider crook, sharpened end and a grooved section to better scrape an attacker.

She held up a a thick padded chest protector as some of the Grange members got in to the swing of things.

Noreen Robinson, 92, of Gardiner noted that the two-piece cane she uses for balance was too fragile to be any good for self-defense work.

Jones told her a one-piece cane would work better.

Then she showed members how to hook someone behind the knee to knock them forward, and how to poke someone with to keep them at a distance. Then for the swinging, she told them, “You’re going to get up and hit the same way you hit a baseball.”

By the end, most of the attendees had taken part and were looking at canes and even some of the items from their purses in a different light.

Later during the same meeting, several Grange members were honored for their service by their peers, including Virgina Allen, treasurer; Esther Shaw, Grange knowledge; Noreen Robinson, long-time service; Joe Shaw, farming ability; and Peter Hanson, good citizenship.

Next month’s program at the Chelsea Grange is a presentation by winners of Chelsea School’s “My Hometown” contest and June’s program is an introduction to vermiculture by Daryl Mashke.

More information on Grange activities in Maine is available through the Maine State Grange website at mainestategrange.org.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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