As I wrote last week, since 1987, March observes and celebrates National Women’s History Month – to honor women and their endeavors in making the world a better place for ALL women – regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, or religion.
Additionally, yesterday began the start of International Women’s Week. Plus, Wednesday is International Women’s Day. Thus there’s no better time, for me to re-tell Mom’s story about being the trailblazer who started the “copycat cookery” concept in the food industry.
There are so many famous women, who have had great influence and blazed the trail for other women, to recognize world-wide – Amelia Earhart, Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, Madam Curie, Rosa Parks, Margaret Sanger, Princess Diana, Sandra Day O’Connor, Eleanor Roosevelt, “Rosie the Riveter”, Maya Angelou – and so on!
For some great stories about women’s history, check out History.com’s editors’ story, Famous Firsts In Women’s History (Updated: February 4, 2021), and 100 Women In History, by Jone Johnson Lewis (Updated: July 3, 2019).
I also want to celebrate “moms”! Most of what my mom knew in the kitchen, when she first started what became her “Secret RecipesTM” business, she had initially learned from her mom and mother-in-law (as well as an older sister and many aunts). I think, in most families, the moms are probably the greatest sources of inspiration and influence.
Aside from her family, Mom was also greatly inspired, throughout her life, by many other notably talented women – comedians, actresses, and writers like Carol Burnette, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball probably top the list. Others include Erma Bombeck, Carol Duvall, Elsie Masterton, Peg Bracken, and Irma Rombauer; just to name a handful.
I’ve also mentioned more than a few times, in my blog posts, that one of the greatest influences, in Mom’s life as a writer, was the 1946 Warner Brothers film, Devotion, about the lives of the Bronte sisters (also notably talented women, to be recognized, as well). That’s from where Mom’s dedication to writing first blossomed – and it grew for over 70 years!
Mom was a “creative master” at whatever she attempted. I wish I had half of her talent. She wore so many hats in our family and in the “family enterprise”. In our family, Mom was the cook, maid, chauffer, doctor, seamstress, counselor, mentor, teacher, and more.
In her home-based business, Mom was the recipe developer, author, illustrator, layout creator, publicist, promotion specialist, public speaker/lecturer and (again) so much more! She was a “Wonder Woman”, who devoted every day to balancing all of it!
As a semi-modernized, yet somewhat old-fashioned housewife-turned-homemaker-turned-entrepreneur, during the 1970s, amidst the Women’s Lib Movement; Mom felt extremely blessed to be able to write (for a living) – and to be able to do it from home. She always said, she made a living with her writing, but it was her writing that made living worthwhile!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES
As seen in…
No Laughing Matter, by Gloria Pitzer (circa 1970s)
JUST A HOUSEWIFE AND A PRO!
AS A ‘SUBURBAN HOUSEWIFE’, I fail to see how anyone could classify my routine as ‘dull’! For one thing, everyone knows that the mother of an active family has no routine! We’re lucky if we can get our slippers on the right feet first thing in the morning.
In fact, we’re lucky if we can even find those slippers, having to, first, plow through an undergrowth of Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs on the way to the kitchen, where we must witness testy debates over who gets the [prize] in the box of [cereal] and why a 40-year-old man refuses to take the Donald Duck Thermos in his lunch…
What’s wrong with a quest for a roll of Scotch tape that’s your very own or having the phone ring and the call is for you instead of your teenager? [Margaret Mead’s] working definition [of a ‘first-class’ woman, not being a housewife or homemaker,] is a ‘trained, competent, professional woman’.
Now, I’d be the last one to contradict an expert, but in defense of women who become wives and mothers… we have had training (although much of it’s on the job), are extremely competent and are professional [according to Webster’s dictionary] in that we have ‘a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or skill’…
If you don’t think it takes learning or skill to varnish a complex-of-disorder with enough love and efficiency that husbands and children grow up with security and comfort, drop around my kitchen some Sunday night…
No matter what they tell us [working-outside-the-home homemakers] about turning our kids over to a day care center, there’s nothing like coming home from school to know that Mom’s in the kitchen, whipping up a pitcher of Tang and a plate of Twinkies.
The Women’s Civil Rights Movement [aka: “suffrage”] first gained, for women, the right to vote. However, it didn’t stop there. In fact, it evolved into more, advocating for even more equal rights.
Thus, National Women’s History Month also celebrates the triumphs of women’s rights activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, who lead the feminist movement, also known as Women’s Lib.
The WLM went on to fight for more rights and equality issues to which women were still denied, compared to men – like better job opportunities, equal treatment, fairer wages, advancement prospects, higher education opportunities, sex education, birth control, etc.
Before the Women’s Liberation Movement developed in the 1960s, cooking and cleaning were always deemed “woman’s work”, and it still is (though not as much) throughout most of the world. I actually love cooking and cleaning, myself. I feel accomplished and happy, in feeding others enjoyable food and keeping a clean home.
I always admired how much Mom took on, and balanced, between (what she deemed) her own homemaking and money-making responsibilities. The work of a homemaker is often taken for granted.
From my youngest memories, Mom almost always worked from home (or, when away, while we were in school). She was always able to harmonize her various jobs – those that paid her money and those that paid her in kisses and hugs from us.
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES
As seen in…
“No Laughing Matter”; a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer
(date unknown; circ. 1970s)
GIVE ME LIBERTY OR…
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT to Women’s Lib, I don’t think they can help me. I think they’ve done enough for me already! Frankly, I think I was doing alright before they came along. At least I could get a seat on a bus. Now I’m lucky if a man will offer to hold my packages for me.
I can also remember when cutting the grass was considered “man’s work”. These days my husband flips me two-out-of-three to see which of us gets the lawn mower and who will fix the iced tea and sit on the patio chair to watch.
Last week, I was visited by a new militant group of women in our neighborhood who are protesting the proposed 4-day work week for MEN. They advocated a simple test. If you cannot get through a two-week vacation and the Christmas holidays with a man who over-waters your house plants and alphabetizes your refrigerator then how can you get through a three-day weekend, 52 weeks out of the year?
For you must then decide if you have to run the sweeper [aka: vacuum] while he’s taking a nap, or does he have to take a nap while you’re running the sweeper. Arguing with a husband (especially when he’s your own), is like taking a shower/bath in a scuba outfit. But I have a theory!
There are some things in this liberated life, which a woman just cannot control. You have tasted instant failure when neither of you can agree on who gets custody of the only controls on the electric blanket; and if it’s fair that she who makes the garbage must also carry it out; and whose mother calls more – yours or his?
This is the same man who warned me not to go into labor on his bowling night and who, on Christmas, gave me a monogrammed tool box and a gift certificate from Sunoco for an oil change and lube job, and a can of Easy-Off in my stocking.
The liberating females of our society have missed the joy of knowing what it means to live with a man who claims he’s always out of socks, but YOU know there are two more pairs in the drawer and [of course] only YOU can find them!
Most husbands are generally quite liberal with their wives in spite of the ‘Lib Movement’… I’ll have you know that my husband has always allowed me to make all sorts of important decisions – like: ‘Does that child need a nap?’ ‘Should that baby have her pants changed?’ ‘Do you really need another new pant suit?’ ‘Must your mother call here every day?’ ‘Should we recognize Red China?’ ‘Will they find Howard Hughes?’
The only liberation I want is to get away from the kids once in a while, without having the school counselor label me as a parent who doesn’t care. When you cannot free yourself from the oven encased in molten lasagna and apple pie fossils, you know that liberation is but a piper’s dream in your soap opera saga.
On the other hand, my husband takes a realistic approach to my emancipation. He claims women have never had it so good… (What does HE know?) His trying to tell me about women’s rights is like trying to tell General Eisenhower about World War II. However, I look at it this way: ‘Either give me liberty… OR GIVE ME A CLEANING LADY!’
In one of Mom’s “No Laughing Matter” columns, from the 1970s (not sure what date it was actually published in the papers, where it was syndicated), called ‘Where Have All Our Homemakers Gone?’, she wrote:
‘The full-time homemaker is, unfortunately, being short-changed by today’s ‘paycheck-oriented’ society and, if Women’s Lib have their own way, ‘homemaker’ will be a 4-letter word… the women who, either by choice or by circumstance, make a career out of making a home.’
It’s been 50 years since the Women’s Liberation Movement developed. I’m constantly amazed at the timelessness of the issues about which Mom wrote. The old adage is true – “the more things change, the more they stay the same!”
In honor of March, being National Sauce Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Punch-A-Train Rarebit Sauce”; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Eating Out at Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; September 1978, p. 22).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Also being observed this week is… National Procrastination Week [which is the first two weeks in March (1st-14th or 5th-18th, for 2023) or whenever it’s convenient], National Words Matter Week, and Read An e-Book Week (all, 5th-11th for 2023).
March 12th is… National Baked Scallops Day, National Plant a Flower Day, and National Girl Scout Day, which is also the start of Girl Scout Week (for 2023)! Plus, as the second Sunday in March (for 2023), it’s also… National Daylight Saving Time Day – spring forward! Additionally, on this day…
…10 down and 42 to go!