In many of my blog entries, when I’ve discussed Mom’s relationship with radio, I have often mentioned one man in particular – Bob Allison. His radio call-in program, “Ask Your Neighbor”, really helped Mom to launch and grow her recipes, cookbooks and newsletter. Last week, I was so saddened to learn that Bob Allison passed away on March 25th. He will be greatly missed!
Over the decades, Mom and Bob became great friends through his radio show. She wrote about him and his “Ask Your Neighbor” program often in her cookbooks and newsletter issues. He, likewise, promoted her copycat recipes on his show and in his own newsletters too. You can still see Mom’s “free recipes & information” sheets, today, on the AskYourNeighbor.com website at: http://www.askyourneighbor.com/glo.htm
Radio became a solid cornerstone in the foundation of Mom’s building of what she often and lovingly referred to as a cottage enterprise, a dining room table operation and a family business. When it came to promoting her work through radio shows, Bob Allison was the first radio host to offer Mom that opportunity. In fact, as I’ve also mentioned in other blog entries, it was Bob’s “Ask Your Neighbor” audience of listeners who first dubbed Mom the “Recipe Detective” – a name she loved to live up to and, later, trademarked.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES
Excerpts written by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pages 54-57)
RADIO AND BOB ALLISON’s ‘ASK YOUR NEIGHBORS!’ SHOW
RADIO turned out to be the most appropriate way by which we made people aware of what we were doing. Again, my involvement with the wonderful world of radio actually came about without any specific intention of becoming a regular part of the broadcasting field.
For one thing, I didn’t know I had what is considered a ‘radio voice’. I had never heard my own voice, at least, recorded. Heaven knows, our five kids will, to this day, even in their adulthood, testify to the fact that, on occasion, during their upbringing, I have been known to discover conditions that would prompt me to accelerate vocally in a pitch that only dogs in the next county could hear!
My introduction to radio began with Bob Allison and [his] nearly 30-year-running ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show. [Feb. 5, 1963] I was folding diapers at the kitchen table, waiting for my favorite, daily segment of ‘My True Story’ to come on the air, when, instead, WWJ announced that it had been replaced with a NEW show.
This new show turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. To this day [December 1989], almost every Monday morning, I visit with Bob Allison and his neighbors, now [in 1989] heard weekdays at 10 AM (EST) over WEXL-radio (Royal Oak/Detroit, Michigan), 1340 on your AM dial.
When ‘My True Story’ was replaced by Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show, weekday mornings, I was, at first, very disappointed. [Recipes,] household hints and problems around the house that you cannot solve yourself, seemed like just too much homemaking information to please me.
I soon, however, became ‘hooked’ on the show; as almost everybody does, to the point that, on Fridays, when Bob would sign off and say he would talk to us again on Monday, I was spending the weekends, just looking forward to the show on Monday.
I called the show about two or three times a month for the first year or two to ask questions of Bob’s ‘neighbors’ that my newspaper column readers were asking me. When I could not find the answers from consulting other sources, I knew I could rely on Bob Allison’s ‘neighbors’ to come up with the right answers for me. In return, I would often then phone in an answer that I occasionally had in reply to one of their questions or recipe requests.
Bob did not recognize my voice as a regular caller until I had initiated the newsletter , however. He asked me where the recipe came from that I was giving in reply to one of his listeners requests, which is how his program has always worked. Nobody simply calls in a recipe because they like it. They must, first, be replying to a request made by another caller and, secondly, must have personally tried the recipe.
On rare occasions, Bob will accept a recipe that is NOT tried by the caller, providing it comes from a truly reliable source or has been asked for and not answered for a long time. They also cover services that people are looking for or products that they cannot locate. This is what has always made Bob Allison’s format so unique, when compared to others like it on the air.
In mentioning that the hamburger sauce recipe would appear in the next issue of my monthly newsletter, which I had given in response to one of his listeners previous requests, Bob reacted with great interest and curiosity. ‘You have a newsletter, do you?’ He asked. ‘Well, tell us about it and how much it is and where our neighbors can get it.’
That was all it took to get us well-acquainted with Bob’s ‘neighbors’ and, in no time at all, our subscription orders went from a few too many. Sight-unseen was hardly appropriate to ask people to buy a publication that they could not first examine.
So I spent all of one day and most of the next, thinking about and trying out a single page description with a few sample recipes from the publication that I could send out to interested and perspective subscribers. To this day, we still use the same procedure and it has worked very well. We offer, for a self-addressed stamped envelope, 12-15 sample recipes and, on the other side of the page, all the [ordering] information on our books and newsletter.
The ‘information sheet’…also tells exactly what each costs, including the postage and handling, and has a clear illustration of what the covers of the books are like with an explanation of what each contains. We also have always given a description of the newsletter, which now  comes out every other month.
ADVERTISING WITH BOB Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ radio show, which we later came to do, brought us the kind of audience that made all of the work worthwhile. We had only developed one book at that time. The [ad] spots we bought on his show were quite expensive for our limited budget, but the results were so rewarding that we later even increased the number of spots we took.
As a semi-modernized, yet, somewhat-old-fashioned housewife-turned-homemaker, during the 1970s, amidst the Women’s Lib movement; Mom truly felt extremely blessed to be able to do what she loved most, writing; and be able to do it from home while balancing her many hats as “Mom” and “Wife” and what all those “titles” entailed for her. In those days, as well as being a writer, Mom was also the creator, illustrator, publisher and promoter for her copycat recipes, cookbooks and newsletter. As a family, we all pitched in and helped whenever and wherever needed.
During these unprecedented days of staying home and staying safe, more and more people are now working from home, if they can, and staying out of the public as much as possible. Meanwhile, maintaining social distancing when we have to go out is a must! There has been a substantial increase in the number of people, most of whom are not considered “essential workers”, applying for unemployment because the “non-essential” businesses for which they worked have been forced to close temporarily.
Likewise, there has also been an increase in the number of home-based businesses popping up on “the web”, as those with brick-and-mortar stores that are not considered “essential” to the public’s basic needs were forced to close their doors for a while. They’ve been forced to find other platforms from which to do business so that they can continue to pay their bills. Mom always believed that “whenever a door closes, the good Lord always opens a window.”
Today, as we are forced to shut our doors to the pandemic, trying to flatten the curve, that “window of opportunity” is the world wide web! We are so fortunate to have the internet so readily available to all of us, especially now! I’d, personally, like to give a shout out to Al Gore [@algore] – Thank you for all you did in getting the “Information Superhighway” out to the public! We are blessed!
In honor of National Tater Day tomorrow, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Au Gratin potatoes, like Bill Knapps used to serve. Another version Mom developed can be found in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018) on page 137; along with the following passage.
This is a unique side dish offered at the Midwestern restaurant chain that was one of our family’s favorites, having originated in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1948. Every selection on their menu was a masterpiece and at very reasonable prices. But, I am absolutely in love with their potato side dish. At home, I attempt to duplicate it this way… [and this truly has been one of our family’s favorites for decades!]
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
#NationalMonthOfHope & #StressAwarenessMonth
April begins in just a couple days! It has been deemed National Month of Hope & National Stress Awareness Month! NationalDayCalendar.com says, “this month, we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high.” The website also lists 5 great ways to de-stress if you find yourself overwhelmed by your current situation with this pandemic (or some other situation.)
Shout out, again, to MarcAndAngel.com, for their uplifting article, “7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong”, that really applies to these current, troubled days that we’re all facing. I found the following excerpt from it especially inspiring:
“Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining. Every time you get hurt; you heal. After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning… So if things are good right now, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. You just have to take it and make the best of it.”
REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…
…13 down, 39 to go!