This past Thursday was the 2-year anniversary of my launching this blog, which I created to honor my mom’s legacy as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, food industry investigator of Secret RecipesTM. The title, which Mom eventually trademarked, was bestowed on her in the mid-1970s by her Detroit area radio listeners, as she was frequently on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show, answering recipe quandaries on how to make just about anything. Mom delighted in that honor, of being the Recipe DetectiveTM, for over 40 years, until she passed away in January 2018.
Today is, among other things, National Good Neighbor Day! The celebration was created in the early 1970s by Becky Mattson (Lakeside, Montana). In 1978, Jimmy Carter, then President, issued Proclamation 4601, creating the official national celebration of Good Neighbor Day. It was annually celebrated on the 4th Sunday in September until 2003, when the annual date was changed specifically to September 28th.
There’s an art to good neighboring but, just like anything else in life, it takes time to master the ability. I wish every ones’ neighborhoods were like that of Mr. Rogers. Fantasy or not, the real-world application was always based on caring for and helping one another – plain and simple!
Good neighboring, however, has taken on a new meaning this year, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic and temporary restraints. Thus, necessity has, once again, become the mother of invention as we find new, safe ways to interact with our neighbors and our communities – because, as human beings, we all NEED some kind of interaction with others!
Have you noticed that neighboring and neighborhoods have changed over the years? In the past, people used to bring their new neighbors casseroles or baked goods, just to introduce themselves and say: “Hi and welcome to the neighborhood!”
Sometimes they would offer to help on the “move-in” or some other project. Sometimes they would stop by for a cup of coffee and to chat about the neighborhood. Neighbors used to borrow/share things (and not just a cup of sugar), like tools and garden equipment, so everyone didn’t have to go out and buy expensive items that they didn’t often use.
When we work at being the best neighbor we can be, then our neighbors are more likely to give back in return, as will their neighbors and their neighbors’ neighbors too. Think about it – there could be an epidemic of good neighboring! Wouldn’t that be a better pandemic to spread throughout the world?
It all begins with the golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” We’ve been learning about this since our preschool and kindergarten years. Why does it seem like a lot of us tend to forget about it once we age into the double digits?
It is one of the easiest and best characteristics in good neighboring. Thus, we should all remember it and practice it daily; treating others with respect and kindness, because the way we treat our neighbors will affect how they treat us, as well as their other neighbors (and so on).
I remember when my family and I first moved to St. Clair from Algonac – one of our new neighbors came over with food for our dinner that evening so Mom didn’t have to worry about doing that amidst all the unpacking. That made such a wonderful, lasting impression on us. Additionally, since I was 12 (almost 13, at the time), they also asked if I would be interested in babysitting for them once in a while. That was my first “paying” job outside of the “family business”.
One way anyone can be a good neighbor is to simply take pride in their neighborhood… Keep it clean and tidy and pleasant looking. We don’t have to become best friends with everyone in our neighborhood, however, introducing ourselves and learning our neighbors’ names is simply good neighboring and it’s not that hard to do nor does it need to take up a lot of time.
It doesn’t have to be a full-time project (unless you want it to be), but we all need to get more involved in our neighborhoods and communities. Knowing who represents us by going to and participating in our neighborhood association/city meetings once in a while is important. Even attending local events whenever we’re able, to support your community, is good neighboring traits.
Good neighboring is another one of those things that should be practiced and celebrated on a daily basis, rather than annually – and not just in one’s neighborhood but also in one’s community and beyond…
We should all say hello to the people we see, even if it is just in passing. It is so easy to do and can create a ripple effect in someone’s day. Just saying hello is also a way to connect with others without having to create a deep bond because, even if you prefer some distance from your neighbors, it doesn’t really obligate you to anybody.
There are some great benefits of good neighboring, such as in neighborhood security and the willingness of others looking out for you just because you’re a neighbor. So, when you have a big party that isn’t tied to a personal celebration (like a birthday or anniversary), put out the good neighboring welcome mat and invite your neighbors!
“Hi Neighbor!” is the name of my blog post at that is a BIG “thank you” note to Mom’s radio, newspaper and TV contacts that helped her to grow her Secret RecipesTM business. I also created a “Media Friends” tab on the website, based on that blog post.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 9)
BOB ALLISON’S “ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR” SHOW
One of the nicest things about being a writer is that you can work at home. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, as soon as my kids were out the door to the school bus, I set up my $39.95 Smith Corona portable typewriter at the kitchen table, where I was one step away from the stove, refrigerator and recipes I was curious to test and write about.
The view from the kitchen table included the front yard and the North Channel of the St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway to everyone else) – the riverside was [called] the front yard and the roadside was the back yard. The old house had its faults, I’ll grant you, but nobody could refuse a view like we had, living on the banks of that river!
There was always something going on outside, sufficient to inspire a feeling of well-being, which every writer must have to do their job well. In keeping with “write about what you know best”, I could put every economical recipe I used to feed my family of seven to good use, sharing the Secrets with others.
One of my addictions in those days was a daily recipe radio show called Ask Your Neighbor, hosted by Bob Allison over the WWJ-Detroit radio airwaves. He always opened his two-hour show by saying, “if you have a household problem you cannot solve, then call… (and he’d give a phone number) …and ask your neighbor!” I called him frequently with answers to his other listeners’ recipe questions, until I became “a regular” on the show.
With Bob’s generous help in mentioning my monthly newsletter, my subscriptions began to climb to 300, and 400. I was finally showing a profit! That gave my husband, Paul, some relief from his skepticism that I would eventually outgrow my obsession with writing.
In one of my April blog posts, “Tell A Story Day”, I wrote about how thrilled I was to hear from a lady who used to have my mom on her radio show once a month for almost 13 years, from June 1992 through December 2005.
Her name is Kathy Keene and she hosts “The Good Neighbor Show” on WHBY, in Appleton, WI. The show still airs from 11am to 1pm (Central Time), Monday through Friday. In fact, like Mom, I’ve been on Kathy’s “Good Neighbor” show, monthly; usually on the last Monday of each month, at about 11:08am (Central Time), since April. We’ve been sharing stories about Mom and one or two of her recipes.
Kathy can’t be on-air today, so we are going to talk about Mom this Wednesday, instead (same time). You can listen to it, live or later, from your computer or phone at: https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. I never tire of telling Mom’s story!
Similarly to National Good Neighbor Day, Wednesday (Sept. 30th) is National Love People Day. And NationalDayCalendar.com recommends that, in honor of it, we should all make a special point to “…offer kindness and care to the people in your community.”
While love doesn’t really make the world go around (since that is actually a gravitational thing), it does make the ride more enjoyable! According to NationalDays.com, National Love People Day was started by Life Line Church (Chicago) a few of years ago.
So, it’s a fairly new “National Day” celebration that even has its own website, promoting “loving your neighbor”! NationalDays.com says, among other things, that it is a day “to lift others up”. Of course, we should lift others up EVERYDAY – but let us all make a special point of it on Wednesday!
Mom always tried “to lift others up” in everything she wrote – starting with her multiple columns that were syndicated to multiple magazines and newspapers across the country to her hundreds of self-published newsletter issues (January 1974 through December 2000) and 40+ cookbooks (from her first one in 1973 to her last one, just before she passed away, in January 2018).
Mom loved to combine recipes (or food-for-the-table) with household hints, food-for-thought and food-for-the-soul – that’s what made her books stand out from all the rest; that and her being the first to start the copycat recipes movement in the food industry…particularly in the fast food and junk food categories, which were considered “taboo” foods by the critics.
Nonetheless, people wanted to know how to make these things at home and there were no other sources for this before Mom started her investigating, as the Recipe DetectiveTM. Given enough time, there wasn’t very many things that Mom couldn’t figure out how to imitate and she lovingly shared her secrets with her “neighbors” all around the world.
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)
WHY CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?
IF I COULD have my way, the whole world would be friends; but then, it is an unrealistic hope, considering the course of human events and behaviors. We can’t even find friends within the same family, most of the time!
…I have met some of the nicest people, in the world, [and] some of the most generous people who want to share their good ideas with me as much as I want to share mine with them. Of these good people, I will speak often and lovingly.
Having come from a somewhat lonely childhood and years of struggling to overcome the emptiness of indifference from relatives to whom I had spent, what seemed like an eternity, trying to reach out… I, now, continue to emphasize, in my own publications [and] throughout my books, the importance of caring – of REALLY caring about each other.
In tribute to Good Neighboring, here is one of Mom’s copycat recipes for a wonderful “comfort food” (of which I will discuss more in next week’s blog post) that you can share with your neighbors!
As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…
The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 58)
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Next Monday, October 5th, is National Do Something Nice Day!
…39 down, 13 to go!