Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Americana Happiness

Happy Monday and happy National Beach Day to everyone! Personally, I always look forward to every Monday because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!



The unofficial end of summer is just around the bend now, as September and Labor Day are quickly approaching. Today is the celebration of National Beach Day! Michigan is home to countless beaches, having 3,288 miles of coastline that borders four of the five Great Lakes! Moreover, there are thousands of rivers and smaller lakes with beaches throughout the state.


Kids are going back to school next week (if they haven’t already), so it’s a great time to “play hooky” and hit the shoreline for one last summer celebration! Before you know it, the trees will be in full, fall colors like a Bob Ross painting! Football (pre-season) is already here, and Halloween merchandise is out in all of the stores, while Christmas stock is building up in their back storerooms.


My husband and I love to go for day trips around Michigan’s “Thumb Coast”, stopping at different beaches to take in the magnificent views and collect some rocks for our garden beds. One time, I found a rock on which someone had painted a silhouette of our state on a sea of white-capped, blue waves and wrote “Michigan Home Sweet Home”. On the back was the artist’s mark and Facebook page (Sanilac Rocks).


It inspired us to collect other beach rocks, on which we, too, can paint something area related and leave them on various Michigan beaches, to which we go, for others to find; hopefully spreading some happiness in the process. Maybe it will inspire others, like us, to do the same.

I haven’t made a Facebook page for our rocks, like the one from the rock I found. I may just add them to my own Facebook art page @ClearImpressionsofMI. I haven’t really used it in a couple of years, as I’ve been focusing more on writing this blog, as well as updating this website and my Facebook page for Mom, @TheRecipeDetective.

‘FRIENDS ARE A TREASURE and, when we count our blessings, we count our friends twice! It’s not possible to have a full and happy life without others to share with, to help when help is needed, to be helped when help is offered.’ – Gloria Pitzer

Mom and Dad loved to take a day or a weekend to just go on a scenic road trip and unwind from the workload at home, mentally refreshing themselves. Often, however, “work” would manage to creep back in whenever they stopped somewhere for a bite to eat. Mom always managed to find something good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home.

My parents seemed to make friends everywhere they went. Some trips were just for relaxation and fun. But other trips involved some planned Secret RecipesTM work too. Mom really did enjoy what she laughingly called her “work”. It was easy to incorporate a restaurant review and an imitation of a dish (or two) into any trip.

Even an occasional, in-studio, radio show interview could be worked into a vacation or road trip, instead of through the phone lines, as Mom usually did. Once, Mom and Dad went on a “working” road trip/vacation to Branson, MO with one of her favorite radio show hosts, Art Lewis, from ‘Listen To The Mrs.’, on WSGW-Radio (Saginaw, MI) and “the crew”.

DEAR FRIENDS – The best part of April will be our bus trip to Branson, Missouri with ‘The Art Lewis Tour. Art is the co-host of my every Tuesday radio visits on [‘Listen To The Mrs.’] WSGW-Radio (Saginaw, MI)…Paul and I haven’t been to Branson in 8 years. The best part…we aren’t doing the driving…Art is! And we’ll be in the company of so many new friends! – Gloria Pitzer [As seen on the cover of her Spring-1995 newsletter, Secret Recipes Quarterly.]

Mom and Dad always loved to travel, especially after they became empty-nesters. They’d spend many of their spring-through-fall weekends here and there, camping with their “Good Sam RV Club” friends from the Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana chapters. In fact, Art Lewis used to love to give Mom some friendly teasing about the oven in her and Dad’s camper, as it was always gleaming like new – because it was never used!

Mom mentioned them all often – Art Lewis, Good Sam RV Club, and the friends they made – throughout her old newsletters, as well as in some of her self-published books. She always had happy remembrances and stories to tell about all the wonderful people they met, the delicious food they ate, as well as the beautiful places in which they stayed.

‘Recipe seminars that I have conducted for the Good Sam RV organization in, both, Michigan and Ohio, have given me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country relative to their recipe interests and food needs.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 61)


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, pp. 23-24)


…Throughout upstate Michigan, the roads borough through tunnels of green trees for miles and miles. There’ll be light traffic on these curving two-lane highways with single cars spaced two blocks or so apart coming toward you. There was the quaint and very unique Settling Inn at the village of Northport, the most northern point of M-22. And farther south there was the Sugarfoot Saloon at Leelanau, near the Sugarfoot Mountain Resort.

It was quiet country, secluded but refreshing, compared to sophisticated urban activity. At County Road 669, a sign announced, ‘Sleeping Bear Dunes straight ahead on M-22’. The road curved like a long licorice ribbon, up and down the hillsides of densely grown White Birches, Scotch Pines, Maples, Oaks and Poplars.

Suddenly we were conscious of how clean the air smelled. The city wasn’t like this! What a lovely contrast! What a splendid memory!

The first time we saw the Traverse Bay area and upstate Michigan, we fell in love with it. It was Labor Day and summer was still at the peak of its promise. Six weeks later, we went back to the bay area to feast our eyes on the glorious, fiery colors of fall. There was a crisp, clean chill in the air.

Those long, straight, two-lane roads through the peninsula still lay like licorice ribbons on the slopes and hills of Old Mission region. The side roads were cut like corridors through a series of canopies in brilliant orange, red and yellow, where the trees were all standing like military sentries in full dress uniforms, crossing their branches above the roads like honor guards with their swords raised high.

It was a trip back into another time zone – peaceful valleys and wooded hillsides abundant was sturdy hedges of tall trees framing well-manicured cherry orchards, acres upon acres of them, as well as apple groves in great abundance everywhere!

Here and there a farmhouse and a weather-worn, well-kept barn reminded you that it was a populated and prosperous region, after all. The prosperity appeared to represent hard work, a practical living style and simplicity of needs, unlike the atmosphere of city dwelling.

Some of the recipes from dishes of this area have become my personal favorites. At the Settling Inn, in the village of Northport, a huge and tasty sandwich presented on their own homemade bread, sliced quite right, and buttered on one side, grilling it until crispy, is the specialty of the house. Then the sandwich fillings are applied to the un-grilled side of the bread, and it’s assembled neatly and cut in half. With a mug of dark beer on a hot day, it hit the spot!



Mom’s story reminded me that in just a couple of days it will be September, which is, among other things, National Americana Month! “Americana” is a style that reflects the stereotypical, cultural phenomenon of “Norman Rockwell basics” – the simple elements of American life, including those traditions and remembrances which have woven us together over the past couple of centuries and made us all Americans.

It includes everything that celebrates America’s cultural heritage, history, folklore, and geography. It’s a timeless, classic style that never goes out of fashion or falls from popularity. Like Mom’s description (above) of her and Dad’s drive in the Traverse Bay region of Michigan’s “Tip-Of-The-Mitt” area.

According to How To Capture Americana In Photography, by Britton Perelman (2018 – Updated Aug. 27, 2020), as seen at, “Americana is any artifact relating to the history, geography, folklore, and cultural heritage of the United States…  We often associate ‘nostalgia’ with Americana… Examples of Americana include Coca-Cola memorabilia, white-picket fences, blue jeans, apple pie, rock and roll, and small towns.”


In honor of this still being National Sandwich Month, at least for a couple of days, here are THREE of Mom’s Sanders imitations, for their lunch-counter sandwich spreads that Mom used to enjoy when she was young! There were many Sanders imitations among Mom’s original index-card-recipes.

Mom’s Sanders-Style Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, and Ham Salad Sandwich Spread can be found in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 37). It’s no longer in print but used copies of Mom’s self-published cookbooks can usually be found on Amazon and eBay.

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…


There’s only a couple days left of August, for observing: National Dog Month, Family Fun Month, International Peace Month, National Brownies at Brunch Month, National Catfish Month, National Crayon Collection Month, National Goat Cheese Month, National Golf Month, National Immunization Awareness Month, National Panini Month, National Water Quality Month, National Wellness Month, and Romance Awareness Month!

Other celebrations happening this week include:

Today is… National Toasted Marshmallow Day and National Grief Awareness Day!

Tomorrow, August 31st is… National South Carolina Day and National Trail Mix Day!

Wednesday launches the month of September, which observes: Better Breakfast Month, Fall Hat Month, International Update Your Resume Month, Little League Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Preparedness Month, National Rice Month, National Self-Care Awareness Month, National Sewing Month, Self-Improvement Month, and Whole Grains Month!

September 1st is also… National Chicken Boy Day and National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day!

Thursday, September 2nd is… National Blueberry Popsicle Day!

September 3rd is… National Welsh Rarebit Day and U.S. Bowling League Day! In fact, the first Friday in September is always… National Lazy Mom’s Day, National Food Bank Day, National College Colors Day, and National Chianti Day!

Saturday, September 4th is… National Spice Blend Day, National Wildlife Day, National Newspaper Carrier Day, and National Macadamia Nut Day! As the first Saturday in September, it’s also… National Tailgating Day and National Play Outside Day (which is always the first Saturday of EVERY MONTH)!

Sunday, September 5th is… National Cheese Pizza Day and National Be Late For Something Day! It’s also the start of National Waffle Week!


…35 down and 17 to go!


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