Happy Monday, happy November, and happy National Authors’ Day! Personally, I always look forward to every Monday, as they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
November is, among other things, National Family Stories Month! It’s so appropriate to celebrate this in my blog posts all month, as they are always about memories I have of my mom, the ORIGINAL Secret Recipes DetectiveTM; as well as stories of our family and some of Mom’s own stories, too, in relation to random food for thought or one of the day’s “hot topics”.
Plus, as I mentioned in the opening, TODAY is also National Authors’ Day! Mom authored and self-published more than 40 cookbooks in as many years, starting in 1973. Starting in January 1974, she also wrote and self-published a newsletter for 27 years, about copycat cookery and other things that might interest the typical homemaker.
Relatively speaking, I should mention that November is, additionally, National Life Writing Month, National Gratitude Month, Inspirational Role Models Month, and National Novel Writing Month, too! All are awesome reasons to celebrate today and all month long! Especially to me, since I write these tributes for and about my mom, her writing talents (as well as many other talents), and her life as the pioneer who started the copycat cookery movement!
I, for one, am very grateful for the inspirational role model that Mom was to me – just as her mom was to her. I grew up, as Mom did, motivated to seize every possible opportunity (although, there were many I’ve missed over the years). Both of my parents taught me (as their parents taught them) to always put forth my best efforts, in everything I do. Everyone should have at least one good example to follow. We should also strive to be good examples, ourselves. Pay it forward!
‘I’ve had so many good examples to follow – I’ll try to be one, myself, to somebody else.’ – Gloria Pitzer (This is not a Cook Book, written and self-published by Gloria Pitzer (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8)
The authoring seed was planted in Mom’s soul decades before her Secret RecipesTM business really took off in the mid-1970s. Whenever Mom was asked “how it all began”, she always found it hard to pinpoint that one single moment. However, she was initially inspired to be a writer, after watching the 1946 Warner Brothers Picture, “Devotion”, about the Bronte sisters.
Mom said that was when she began to journal, seriously – on a daily basis – usually writing about her life and faith. Mom filled journal after journal with her thoughts and feelings and observations, from the time she was 10 years old until she physically couldn’t, shortly before she passed away in January 2018.
Mom always felt that writing was her “true calling”, claiming that she made a living with her writing, but it was her writing that made living worthwhile! She had committed a little over 70 years of her life to writing – now that’s devotion!
Mom often talked about the time, after seeing the afore mentioned movie, when she had written a poem for a 5th grade writing assignment, which was published in The Detroit News. She thought that may have been the defining moment when her creative writing interests became serious. She was astonished that others found her composition to be that good! Afterwards, Mom entered creative writing contests often – and won quite a few prizes from doing so.
‘The National Essay Award, sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, offered a $100 scholarship [which was a large sum in the mid-1940s] for the best essay written by a high school senior, entitled What it Means to be an American. I worked so hard on that paper – gave it my all! At graduation, I received the scholarship check and I knew, then, that I would be a serious writer after all.’ – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 20)]
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294)
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
EVERY SUCCESSFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT with my writing, after high school and the one year in college, was involved with recipes and cookbooks and restaurants. But I couldn’t see that it was a kind of calling. I saw it only as an interest that temporarily kept me writing and making a worthwhile living at it.
WDEE-Radio, in Detroit, gave me a portable radio for a recipe that took 1st place in a contest they conducted – and in 1962, it was WBRB-Radio, in Mt. Clemens, that gave me a check for first place in their recipe contest. Soon after that, Better Homes & Gardens sent me a check for a recipe in a contest they had conducted.
And, in 1964, WJBK-Radio [Detroit] gave me a maple stereo and radio set for their [contest about the] most unusual experience while listening to the radio, when I wrote to them about our ‘Picnicking in the Snow’. Again, the story was food related, including recipes for having a cook-out on the beach, at Metropolitan Park [on Lake St. Clair in Michigan], in the middle of winter, with the radio going to keep us in the proper mood.
Mom’s faith was always a part of her writing, just as writing was always a part of her faith. She wrote her own daily devotionals in journal after journal. I wish I had those journals now – or at least copies. Over the decades, Mom was greatly influenced, in her writing, by many different, talented women.
One such lady was Maya Angelou, whose story in a 1993 issue of the “Christian Science Monitor”, revealing how her devotion to writing developed with “the yellow pad”, greatly re-inspired Mom to write more about those things for which she was grateful.
Mom wrote about the inspiration on page 10 of the 1994/95 Winter issue her Secret Recipes QuarterlyTM [newsletter]. Maya Angelou was a big motivator, especially in regard to her faith-journaling. The inspiration Mom wrote about came from a 1993 interview Maya had with David Holstrom of “The Christian Science Monitor”.
As Mom wrote in her newsletter, Maya had gone “to her voice teacher in mental turmoil over having to leave her child in Europe when she returned to the States. Frightened for her sanity, she told her teacher that she thought she was going mad.”
Mom went on to tell how Maya’s teacher – instead of showing her pity – had given her a yellow pad of paper and told her to write down all of her blessings on it. Apparently Maya was frustrated, as that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Her teacher insisted, though; suggesting she start there – with the fact that she could HEAR him! Continuing on, he pointed out that she could SEE the page and could HOLD the pen and so on!
Mom added that Maya had also said, in her interview with Mr. Holstrom, “before I reached the end of the page, I was transformed. So, everything I have written, every book, every stage play, every screenplay, was written on a yellow pad. As soon as I pick it up, I am reminded of my blessings.” Mom was eternally appreciative to Maya for renewing her own gratitude!
Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we own or the ‘things’… – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)
Born and bred in Christian Science, with some Jewish, Catholic, and Lutheran influences, as well – Mom was a very devout Christian. No matter what the problems or struggles were, she never lost faith that God had a plan for her. From her parents’ influence, Mom would always try to find something in every day from which to learn, as well as for which to be grateful.
Mom not only wrote about her faith in her own personal journals but also in all of her cookbooks and newsletters. She shared it publicly and openly, like Maya Angelou; with hopes to inspire and help others, who may be at their own crossroads of trials and tribulations.
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. 22)
MY WRITING WAS NEVER A HOBBY
JOURNALISM IS A PECULIAR profession to follow. I’ve been a serious journalist [since graduating high school in 1954]. I’ve worked among writers who wrote to live, while the rest of us lived to write. We had to communicate, to reach out to someone with ideas…thoughts…reasonings and remembering.
While I live to write, I must consider that others do not. Writers never retire, not if they’re truly writers. Editors may retire and reporters may retire…at some given point. But, OLD WRITERS NEVER DIE, they just run out of words.
I never thought I’d see the day that Mom would run out of words. I miss her so much. However, her words live on forever in all of her books, newsletters, and columns! I’ve heard from quite a few people, since starting these blog posts a few years ago, who’ve told me that they still have copies of Mom’s publishings and how special they are to them.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on Facebook (@TheRecipeDetective), with YOUR memories of my mom! I’d love to hear from you, too!
Since this is also National Deep Fried Clams Day, here is Mom’s imitation of Big Boy-Style Fried Clam Sauce/Dip; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 7).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some November month-long observances include… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Diabetic Eye Disease Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Historic Bridge Awareness Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, Spinach and Squash Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!
Additionally, it’s… National Fig Week (which is always November 1st-7th)!
Furthermore, today is also… National Calzone Day, National Vinegar Day, National Cook For Your Pets Day, and National Cinnamon Day! In honor of the latter, here’s a re-share of Mom’s recipe for homemade Cinnamon Ornaments!
November 7th is… National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day and Daylight Saving Time Ends – which used to be the last Sunday in October but is now always the first Sunday in November! It’s also the start of World Kindness Week, which is always the week of the 13th! Plus, it’s Dear Santa Letter Week and National Young Reader’s Week, which are, both, always the second week of November!
…44 down and 8 to go!