A couple of weeks ago was National Hug a Newsperson Day and today it’s National Columnists’ Day! I used to think they’re the same but learned they’re not. A newsperson reports news stories objectively, fairly, and accurately, without opinion or viewpoint. Columnists write narratives to provoke and produce particular feelings and/or beliefs. Mom did both, preferring the latter. For many years, she was a proud member of the Federation of Press Women, in Michigan.
Before authoring and self-publishing over 200 newsletter issues and more than 40 cookbooks, Mom wrote and syndicated many journalistic columns with satirical viewpoints of current events and hot topics, particularly as they related to homemakers and their families, during the Women’s Liberation era.
Mom’s columns ran under various titles, such as The Pitzer Patter, Minding the Hearth, The Cook’s Corner, Food for Thought, and No Laughing Matter. Mom also created a series of cartoon panels, many of which I’ve shared in these blog posts, called Full House, as kept by Gloria Pitzer; which also focused on the humorous side of the not-so-liberated-life of a homemaker, like herself.
Mom always had a cynical sense of humor – not just in her writings and drawings, but also in her outlook on life. Fifty years later, I’m still amazed by the timelessness of some of the issues, about which Mom wrote. I guess the old adage is true, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.
History continually tends to repeat itself in new forms of old events. We still need to fix the roads and there’s still corruption in politics. Every now and then, we still face a food crisis or flood or drought or some kind of seasonal/regional natural disaster. There continues to be reoccurring rises in unemployment, interest rates, the cost of living, and general inflation. These were topics Mom covered as, both, a newsperson and columnist.
‘It was all leading to my eventual work in the food industry – but I couldn’t see that at the time – I could only see that I had to write and with any luck at all, luck would be when preparation and experience met opportunity. The opportunity was close at hand.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294).]
About fifty years ago, Mom left her newspaper job and began her family-owned-and-operated, cottage-style, dining-room-table business; releasing her first, self-published, cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook, in early 1973. It was compiled from a collection of recipes she had developed while writing her syndicated, recipe column, Cookbook Corner.
Mom faced major challenges, personally and professionally, when she suddenly switched gears, going from a syndicated columnist to a self-published author. In addition, during the 1970s, there were food shortages, paper shortages, sky-rocketing unemployment, and more.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6)
IT ALL STARTED WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN
IN THE EARLY 1970s, I was trying to juggle marriage, motherhood, homemaking and a newspaper column syndicated through Columbia Features, when it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a single cookbook on the market that could help me take the monotony out of mealtime. There was not a single recipe in the newspaper’s food section that did not smack of down-home dullness!
‘Okay,’ they said at the newspaper I worked for, ‘YOU write the column on foods and recipes that YOU think would really excite the readers and make them happy!’ I did, but that didn’t make the Editors happy, because it made their [food industry] advertisers miserable.
When I was told that I’d have to go back to monotonous meatloaf and uninteresting side-dishes that made mealtime a ritual rather than a celebration or ‘pick up my check’, I told them to ‘MAIL it to me!’ I went home to start my own paper!
It was probably a dumb thing to do, amid an economic recession with the highest rate of unemployment I had ever experienced, but it was worth the risk. I was a dedicated writer that knew someone had to give homemakers something more than what they were being given in the colored glossy magazines, where a bowl of library paste could even be photographed to look appetizing!
Fate seemed to guide Mom in a particular direction, and she faithfully followed, trusting that this was God’s plan for her. In the fall of 1973, Mom put together her first newsletter, titled Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter, which she launched in January 1974.
She also sold her growing copycat recipes collection, through the mail, printed individually on 4” x 6” index cards, for 25-cents each or five for a dollar. These are the recipes she later referred to as her “Original 200 Plus Recipes” and she self-published a book of them in 1997.
After a couple years of success with her recipe cards and newsletters, Mom decided to discontinue her growing catalog of cards (some of which she already had to discontinue to make room for newer ones) and start putting her collections into a series of various cookbooks.
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)
JOURNALISM IS A PECULIAR profession to follow. I’ve been a serious journalist [since 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, with thoughts, with reasonings and [remembrances].
Somehow, we had to make a difference, touching others with some good – like the single stone tossed into the still waters of a shimmering pond, the ripples begin, as they always do, where the stone touched the water’s surface and responded around and around, until the widest circle touched the grassy edge [of the shore], again and again.
While I live to write, I must consider that others do not. Writers never retire – not if they are truly writers. Editors retire. [Even] reporters retire from their work at some given point. But old writers never die, they just run out of words.
There is great joy in an exchange of ideas; specifically when you have something of value to share. when that exchange of ideas flows from a mutual appreciation of the good in human life, there is no doubt that the abundance of good continues to unfold around us from only one Unlimited Source.
We don’t think too much about that Source until we’re in real trouble. Then, we’re willing to reach out because, after all, what have we got to lose? Too bad we don’t tap that Source when everything is going well and exercise our ability to think [and be grateful], which is something very few people take the time to do…
‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ – Seneca (1st century Roman philosopher)
Mom lived to write but often said it was her writing that made living worthwhile. One of the nicest things about being a writer – whether it’s as a newsperson, syndicated columnist, book author, blogger, or something else – (especially during the past couple of years) is that you can usually work from home-sweet-home.
Since April is National Pecan Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Spanish Pecan Cookies; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 220). [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 April’s observances include… National Records and Information Management Month, National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Decorating Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Poetry Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Stress Awareness Month!
Today is also… National Animal Crackers Day!
…16 down and 36 to go!