Once again, thank God it’s Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!
Sunday was, among other things, National Go Fishing Day AND Father’s Day, as well as the beginning of Universal Father’s Week. Yep – that’s right. Sorry Mom… Not only do pickles get a whole week of celebration but so do fathers.
Dad was the king of our castle – Mom said so. He was strict but also loving and forgiving. Family was extremely important to him, as were education, honesty, and working hard. When he wasn’t working hard, Dad loved contributing to our Algonac community, through the Lion’s Club and little league coaching. He also loved bowling, fishing, and playing golf.
Dad retired early (from Willie Sign Co.) to help Mom full time, managing the business end of the family enterprise. Dad opened the mail, filled the orders, delt with the printer, did the banking, paid the bills, kept all the records and so on. He was the organizer. Mom was the “detective”, developer, writer, illustrator, and promoter.
Going through Mom’s and Dad’s old photo albums always brings up so many wonderful memories of our family and summertime vacations. Mom, almost always, was the one to photograph all of our special family moments. Although Dad would take some pictures every now and then, so Mom could be in some shots as well.
On our family vacations, whenever we were lost, Dad didn’t like to stop and ask for directions (that was decades before GPS and Google Maps). Instead, he told us, he was “taking the scenic route”. We often kidded him about his “scenic routes” because Dad loved to joke around. He was the king, knight, and court jester – all rolled into one.
In June 2002, Mom and Dad reprinted and self-published Mom’s popular “short-cut-cooking” cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes. Early in 2014, they were still self-publishing, promoting (through radio shows and lectures), and selling that book, along with seven different, 2-page, recipe “bulletins”.
Each bulletin was comprised of related recipes for imitating various popular “brands” like Sanders, Bill Knapp, Bob Evans and others. There was also a 4-page “folder”, called Soup and Other Comfort Foods. They lived and worked together, 24/7 – day-in and day-out, every day, until Dad passed away unexpectedly, in October 2014.
Father’s Day has become one of those days when I miss him most! Like any daughter might feel about her dad, my dad was and will always be my hero. Dad was the cornerstone of our family, the “super” glue that held us all together. After he was gone, the family started to crumble and fall apart.
Mom tried to hold us all together, the way her mother tried, with her and her younger sisters, after my grandpa passed away, but to no avail. Unfortunately, in both cases, what little family bonds were left, basically became severed after the family matriarchs were each gone, as well.
Since this is Universal Father’s Week, I want to share with you an old (circa 1974), satirical article that Mom wrote about Dad called ‘Father’s Day (or) the King and I’, which I found in her one of her first year newsletter issues, from June 1974.
There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football. She eventually started watching football with him – just so that, when he fell asleep in his recliner, she could grab the remote and change the channel to an episode of “Murder She Wrote” or a Hallmark movie. Most times, Dad woke up before she could do it.
I mentioned earlier that Sunday was also National Go Fishing Day, because going fishing with my dad is top among my most favorite childhood memories of me and him. Speaking of which, Mom drew a cartoon (below), in 1971, based on my love for fishing and my big brothers’ irritation of it.
When Dad passed away, he had apparently been feeling poorly, but never said anything to anyone because he just wasn’t one to complain about his own ailments. Also, at the time, he was more worried about Mom’s seizures, as she had a couple grand mal ones that required hospitalizations and many follow-up doctor visits.
Dad was always more focused on Mom’s health, because of her seizures, and she was always more focused on Dad’s health, because of his diabetes. That’s just a small example of why there are so many different national “health awareness” days, weeks, and month-long observations now – the key word is AWARENESS!
Correspondingly, I want to mention that last month, May, was also National Stroke Awareness Month, National Mental Health Awareness Month, and National Older Americans Month but, again, these should be observed every month.
Amid everything going on mid-way into 2014, with Mom’s hospitalizations, she and Dad had to completely retire their recipe business; which relieved Dad, immensely, since he was six years older than Mom and had been wanting to fully retire for a while but wouldn’t until they could retire together. Mom just never felt ready, like Dad.
Completely retiring the whole business left Mom feeling kind of empty, like she had lost her child. No more stories to write… No more recipe investigations… No more radio shows… Even traveling had become too taxing. Then we found out that Dad was losing his sight. Neither of them could drive anymore but they still took care of each other.
For eight months, following Dad’s passing, my sister, Cheryl, and I took turns everyday, taking care of Mom – being her companion, watching her for seizures, helping her with the housework, taking her to her appointments and occasionally shopping. I always knew how much Mom did for Dad but I never fully realized, until then, all the things he did for her, too.
One morning, in the summer of 2015, we found Mom on her bedroom floor and had to call 9-1-1. The doctor at the hospital said she had suffered from another grand mal seizure AND a double-stroke, at some point during the early morning hours.
It was a very scary time for us. Mom was in the hospital for quite a while and even in the ICU for a brief time, followed by months of various therapies at a health care facility, as she had also acquired dementia from the double-stroke.
Afterward, Mom had to move into a “retirement place” that had 24-hour, on-site, nursing care and other special amenities for her, as she needed a lot more than what Cheryl and I could offer her, since we both had full-time jobs to work, as well.
Mom went through a lot of changes and losses from early 2014 until she passed away in January 2018. However, it was her undying faith that kept her going. She truly believed that she and Dad would be together again. “When the Lord sees fit to do so,” she would always say.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…
The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St, Clair, MI; June 1997)
WHEN THE RECIPE CARDS became so popular that we were packaging them, sometimes in complete [$40] sets of the full 200 selections, I began to look at the possibilities of doing my own recipe books – less-expensive to the customer, surely, and less work for us considering all of the myriad choices one can have with 200 individual cards.
I assembled several single page books that I could mimeograph, remaining independent in the production of them, and came up with several workable ideas. It was very shortly thereafter, [from] a printer Paul was dealing with, at the company he worked for in the city, that we learned how to layout our own camera-ready copy and provide the recipes quite inexpensively. It was such a relief to be rid of the messy mimeograph machine. (p. 28)
BLESSING IN DISGUISE
IT WAS A BLESSING in disguise that Paul’s assignments at the company where he worked had given him the job of purchasing agent, for it certainly prepared him strongly for the responsibilities that would come our way in branching out into self-publishing our books.
Every department he worked in at Willey Sign Company gave him a basic foundation for being able to structure our business into a self-sufficient operation, from advertising to marketing and bookkeeping.
It was right after the ‘National Enquirer’ and ‘People’ magazine and ‘The Washington Post’ interviewed us and [printed] stories about our work, that he found himself spending every evening (after he got home from his job), every weekend, and his two-week vacation time, as well, working on our recipe business.
He knew he had to make a choice. He had to give up his 20-year job and the benefits and such in order to devote full-time to Secret RecipesTM. It was a decision we have never regretted.
With only $1000 in the bank and all of the bills that continued to come in day after day, we launched our ship of dreams and have never once had any regrets. Nor have we ever gone one day [as of this printing – June 1997] since that date, August 13, 1976, without an order! (p. 30)
I found out, while taking care of Mom, that Dad was just as much her hero as he was mine. Throughout her last 39 months without him, Mom never lost faith that they’d be together again, someday. She believed that it wasn’t for her to know when, why, or how – only that IT WILL BE!
‘There’s a powerful wisdom we don’t understand. It comes down to believing… To having faith.’ – Gloria Pitzer; 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. 60)
In honor of TODAY, being National Garfield The Cat Day, here are THREE of Mom’s copycat recipes – Chief Boy Hardley Italian Dinner Sauce Mix and Lasagna [like “Two Guys From Italy” (CA)], with [Quick] Ricotta Substitute; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 73 & 74 – respectively). [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 next Monday…
June observes, among other things… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Candy Month, National Camping Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Great Outdoors Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month!
Wednesday, June 21st, is… National Peaches ‘N’ Cream Day, National Daylight Appreciation Day, National Selfie Day, National Arizona Day, Summer [Solstice] Begins, and National Seashell Day (which is always on the first day of summer)!
June 23rd, is… National Detroit-Style Pizza Day, National Hydration Day, National Pink Day, and National Pecan Sandies Day! Plus, as the Friday after Father’s Day (for 2023), it’s also… Take Your Dog to Work Day!
…25 down and 27 to go!