We’ve all heard the old adages, “Laughter is the best medicine…”, as well as “Laugh and the world laughs with you…”; well, in relation to August being Happiness Happens Month, today is also National Tell a Joke Day! Likewise, just as there are many health benefits to being happy, there are many health benefits to telling jokes and making others happy. Both of my parents loved to tell jokes and humorous stories.
I remember watching a lot of sitcoms and comedy/variety shows on television when I was growing up. Mom and Dad always picked the programs! Their favorite comedians included the classics, such as Milton Berle, George Burns, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Johnny Carson, Dick Van Dyke, Don Knotts and the like. [On a side note: My dad’s mom is a Knotts (from West Virginia) and possibly a cousin to the famous comedian!]
Mom’s self-published cookbooks were very different than all the rest on the market – they stood out, not only for their crafty designs and lay-outs, but also because they were filled with food-for-thought and food-for-the-soul, as well as food-for-the-table ideas – all served up with a lot of clever humor on top!
Likewise, Mom wrote, illustrated and self-published a newsletter for 25 years (Jan. 1974 through Dec. 1998 – 219 issues in all), in the same patchwork-quilt-fashion. It began and ended as a monthly publication, but there were some years in between when she published it bi-monthly (doubling the size) and other years when it was published quarterly (quadrupling the monthly size).
Each issue of the newsletter was always stuffed full of witty and humorous stories about our family or Mom’s radio show visits all around North America, restaurant reviews, more food-for-thought and food-for-the-soul, as well as her wonderfully unique recipes. Mom would also write a little “Dear-friends-letter” (usually on the front page) about the goings-on of our lives, as she always thought of her readers as her friends too.
Even before the newsletter and books began, Mom first wrote and syndicated humorous columns under several different titles. She also illustrated amusing cartoon panels, which were called Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer. They were printed in The Richmond Review (Richmond, MI) for a few years, starting around early 1969.
Since they’re humor is so timeless, Mom reused many of her cartoons and witty columns in her newsletters and cookbooks that she, later, went on to develop. I often use them, myself, in my blog posts about her. Mom could see humor in almost anything. “They” say, in the comedy realm, that the best material comes from real life experiences! My mom had a way of taking our everyday life events and turning them into funny, exaggerated “fishing stories” and cartoon panels.
Below are some comedic examples from Mom’s cartoons, No Laughing Matter columns, and excerpts from some of her cookbooks. Regarding our family’s eating habits in the first story, keep in mind that Mom was a really good cook (despite her sarcastic humor, claiming otherwise) – so, of course, we were going to eat her out of house and home!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in… No Laughing Matter
By Gloria Pitzer, The Recipe DetectiveTM
VITTEL STATISTICS – or How to Salvage Leftovers!
In order to prevent our kids from eating us right into bankruptcy, I’ve been, literally, forced to salvage food in the refrigerator by trying to camouflage it. Just last week, I made a banana look like a ballpoint pen and hid a stack of sliced cheese in an old stationary box. When our 15-year old discovered them in the refrigerator, I assured him it was for writing letters to those people who deserved a cold shoulder from me.
Several [readers] have written, asking me what I do with leftovers. I realize leftovers can be a problem but, in my case, I can hardly remember what they’re like. With five, fully-powered, automatic food disposals, walking around disguised as ‘Problem Eaters’, this house hasn’t seen a leftover in years. Leftovers are not my problem – having enough to go around the first time is!
I keep telling them, ‘Please! Eat like there IS a tomorrow!’ But they don’t listen. There was a time when I could have equated their appetites with a compliment to my cooking, but that was before I saw them eat [Kellogg’s] Pop Tarts© without removing the wrappers… They are problem eaters, alright; but the problem is they never stop eating!
There are some things they will avoid, like brown spots on an apple, as well as the core and the stem. Neither will they eat parsley flakes or dry minced onions. They also have an adversity for whatever might be good for them, like green vegetables; which means it’s perfectly safe for me to conceal Twinkies© in a box [from frozen] Brussel sprouts or Nabisco’s [Nilla] Wafers in a box that once contained prunes.
I’ve even hidden Christmas cookies so well that it wasn’t until we went to a 4th of July picnic that I discovered them in the cold drink thermos. I’ve hidden Oreos© in a tall, brown jar marked ‘NOT TO BE TAKEN INTERNALLY!’ I’ve tried to salvage enough of tonight’s pot roast to make tomorrow night’s stew, by wrapping it in a damp towel and trying to pass it off, on a lower shelf of the refrigerator, as my ironing.
When I discovered the three empty quart bottles that had, only moments before, contained ginger ale; it wasn’t difficult to expose the guilty person. It was the one [from whom], when he opened his mouth, I could hear the ocean roar!
I tried to frighten them away from what is loosely termed JUNK, like chips and doughnuts and pizza snacks; but they refuse to listen to how their teeth will rot and acne will make them unpopular.
Already, our 15-year old is supporting a 30-cents-a-day candy habit! [Note: In the early-to-mid 1970s, that was a LOT of candy!]
Just yesterday, in fact, I found the following reminder taped to the refrigerator: ‘Mom, we’re out of Pop Tarts again.’ I was very upset. The note had been written with the very last banana on the only slice of cheese!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 4)
[LAUGHTER IS] STILL THE BEST MEDICINE –
YOU CAN’T SMILE ON THE OUTSIDE WITHOUT FEELING GOOD ON THE INSIDE!
When doctors told Norman Cousins that he had one chance in 500 to live, he remembered the old saying that ‘laughter [was] the best medicine’. Cousins then asked Allen Funt, producer of the TV show ‘Candid Camera’ to send him films of past ‘Candid Camera’ classics and a motion picture projector.
Cousins soon made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine laughter would give him at least two hours of pain-free sleep. Cousins and his doctors made the startling discovery that laughter not only eased his pain, but also produced measurable changes in his body chemistry…
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
The Joy Of NOT Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 52)
THE PENTAGON RECIPE
[aka: Kindness Begets Kindness]
One of the reasons that I always liked President Ford, was that he seemed more like the rest of us – but with strong convictions on doing the right thing when he had to…
But his first televised press conference, after his inauguration, was the incident that led to my receiving a letter from President Ford and, later on, the recipe from the Pentagon.
When the President opened his press conference on television, he explained there had been a mix-up!. Betty Ford had scheduled her first press conference for the same day – and, naturally, one of them had to postpone theirs.
So, the president explained that like any married couple, he and his wife sat down to discuss it logically, intelligently and sensibly, as to which one of them would postpone their conference. Betty’s conference, it was decided, would be held the following week; and, in the meantime, the President explained, he would be making his own breakfast, his own lunch, and his own dinner!.
I fell off my chair, laughing, when he made that announcement; thinking how human, how normal, how great! But my fellow journalists, in their usual humorless vein, didn’t even chuckle. They thwarted questions at him and the joke went unappreciated by probably everyone but me!
So I sent President Ford the copy of the cookbook I had then published [September 1974] with a note of sympathy that, if he were going to be doing his own cooking, perhaps he could use some help. And this was the letter I received from him:
In the meantime, I had a lovely note from Betty Ford, saying how much she had enjoyed the copies of my newsletter that she had been loaned by one of the congressmen’s wives. I gave her a complimentary subscription until she and President Ford left the White House and asked, in return, if I could impose on her to impose on her husband to use his influence in the Pentagon to acquire a copy of the Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast recipe that was served at Langley AFB, in Virginia, in about 1951.
It was the only thing my husband, Paul, would eat in their mess hall! Within a week or so I received the recipe and a kind note from Betty Ford, wishing me luck in breaking it down from 380 servings to a reasonable portion! It was a challenge! But I did it and Paul still enjoys it!
Here’s a re-share of that recipe…
Humor quotes from some of Mom’s favorite personalities, as seen at BrainyQuote.com:
18th century, English poet, Charles Churchill said, “A joke is a very serious thing.”
Author, Erma Bombeck said, “When humor goes, there goes civilization.”
Celebrity, Bob Hope said, “I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”
Author, Allen Klein said, “You may not be able to change a situation, but with humor you can change your attitude about it.”
Comedian, Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”
In honor of this still being National Brownies at Brunch Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Hopeless Brownie Mix; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 211). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some of August’s observances include: National Dog Month, Family Fun Month, Get Ready For Kindergarten Month, International Peace Month, National Back to School Month, National Catfish Month, National Crayon Collection Month, National Goat Cheese Month, National Golf Month, National Immunization Awareness Month, National Panini Month, National Sandwich Month, National Water Quality Month, National Wellness Month, and Romance Awareness Month!
Additionally, this is… Elvis Week, which is always the week of August 16th!
Other celebrations this week include:
Sunday, August 22nd is… National Be An Angel Day, National Bao Day, Never Bean Better Day, and National Pecan Torte Day! Additionally, as the last FULL week of August, it’s… National Composites Week! The last week of the month is also… Be Kind to Humankind Week!
…33 down and 19 to go!