Happy Labor Day! Plus, #ThankGodItsMonday, again; so #HappyMonday, too! 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!
Besides being the UNOFFICIAL end of summer & start of the fall season, Labor Day is an Americana celebration, honoring the contributions and achievements that American workers provided to our country’s economic strength, prosperity, and well-being.
OFFICIALLY, Labor Day observes the improvements of working conditions and fair wages that were gained through the efforts of the American labor movement, which still continues evolving and acquiring additional improvements, to this day.
This is also a patriotic holiday that people like to celebrate with parades, community picnics, backyard barbeques, sports events, and the like. In Michigan, today, it’s the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk across the “Mighty Mac”, which has bridged the Straits of Mackinac since 1957.
The Mackinac Bridge connects the upper and lower peninsulas that make up the state of Michigan. At about five miles in length, it’s the third longest suspension bridge in North America.
The bridge walk has been an annual Americana event since 1958 (with the exception of 2020, of course); thus, the 2023 bridge walk will be the 65th occurrence of this grand event. As many as 30,000 people have partaken in the walk in recent years. The bridge is usually closed to motor traffic for the first half of the day, for the safety of the Labor Day walkers.
By the way, did you know that September is, among other things, National Americana Month? Americana is considered to be a nostalgic culture of a simple, small town, Norman Rockwell lifestyle – depicted as middle-class, humble, God-fearing people, enjoying a prosperous family life.
Rockwell’s art work appeared on over 300 covers of the weekly edition of The Saturday Evening Post. He often used Americana-style elements like community pride, patriotism, white-picket fences, denim, baseball, apple pie, Coca-Cola, farmers and blue-collar workers.
According to Wikipedia.org, “Americana encompasses not only material objects but also people, places, concepts and historical eras…” Michigan is rich in small-town Americana oddities, natural beauty, history, AND FLAVOR!
For over four decades, Mom loved reviewing different restaurants, especially throughout the state of Michigan, as the Secret RecipesTM Detective. She always figured out how to duplicate their famous dishes at home. Incidentally, her writings, drawings, and self-published books were also filled with a lot of Americana characteristics.
On the whole, Mom put her books and newsletters together like Americana quilts, with a little of this and a little of that, all pieced together with love.
[NOTE: For a little piece of Americana, hard copies of Mom’s last cookbook are available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, at BalboaPress.com; eBook versions are also available for $3.99 at the BalboaPress.com Bookstore.]
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes© Newsletter (Secret Recipes©, St. Clair, MI; Sept-Oct 1991, p. 1)
EVEN ON A SLOW DAY, Paul and I have at least 100 letters to open, read and reply to. On our busiest [day], however, like following a TV appearance, we can have 1,000 letters a day to handle. It’s been like this since 1973.
We’ve made great friends through these letters and acquired now some 6,000 subscribers to our newsletter and ever so many more who just want our 6 [available] cookbooks.
Our morning starts around 7:30 at Gallagher’s, in the mall, for breakfast. This is where, as every morning the round table of some local businessmen will be accessing world situations.
‘The world has never been more interesting than it is right now,’ Richard J. Cattani, Editor of a Boston newspaper assures us. ‘The world is not so much in decline, as it is changing,’ he writes. And this is pretty much what is discussed over breakfast.
Although, breakfast talk consists also of how the Chicago Bulls fared the playoffs and where the [Detroit] Tigers might build the new stadium. And how everyone who works at the new Walmart store smiles and speaks to you with kindness and concern – but most of all, when will Detroit give us a car we can afford, again.
It’s the same in every [small] town, I suppose – a favorite place, a special time, with friendly folks, who treat each other like family. I can’t help but think that half of President Bush’s problems could be solved like ‘that’ – with the snap of your fingers – if only he could sit in on these discussions.
Also during what I laughingly call a ‘normal’ day, the phone rings frequently and 3 or 4 of the calls will be from the radio stations with whom I visit periodically for up to an hour at a time. Our regular visits with some of these stations who call us, might only run 15 minutes.
Nonetheless, we will, in a month’s time, visit with 30 to 40 different stations, covering calls from their listeners wanting to know how to recreate famous foods at home. Some of the mail we receive as a result of these radio visits have reflected some very interesting facts about favorite foods…
When I think of the nostalgic icons that represent Americana to me, in terms of food-related, I think of Coney Islands and carhop drive-ins, as well as the classic carnival and state fair foods, traditional department store restaurants and old-style dime store cafeterias.
By the way, this time of year is known to harvest more than just crops. Americana nostalgia is reaped more in the fall, than in any other season of the year. Did you know that observing that kind of lifestyle, as depicted by Rockwell, is known to decrease stress levels, as well as increase creativity?
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. 3)
HOW IT ALL BEGAN – REMEMBERING, WITH LOVE
IT IS OBVIOUS…if you are familiar with [any] of my books…that traditional presentation is not important to me. It has nothing to do with concept and everything to do with the time in which I put a book together.
Most of what I have written has been done like a patchwork quilt, pieced here and there; hardly in sequence and never in a thoroughly developed format that probably every writer worth their salt (or Mrs. Dash) would be apt to follow, in producing a book of their own.
Since the [very] first book, back in January 1973, I have not been able to stick to ‘the rules’ when writing, publishing or distributing a book. It was the first thing a publisher would mention to us when, a few years later, they wanted to take over our books and publish them for us.
The comments would range from ‘making your books more [sellable]’ to ‘changing the format somewhat’, which all meant redesigning what I had developed so that it no longer reflected ‘me’, but ‘them’. Making our books more [sellable] was the biggest puzzle, considering that, in the beginning, these same publishers quickly rejected my work…
After an appearance on the [Phil] Donahue Show in July 1981, over a million letters from Donahue viewers made our books probably THE MOST [sellable] in the country – if not the world – in the shortest period of time.
So many things happened along the way that contributed to our success as a family enterprise; and, while [in my writings] I will touch on some of the highlights of these experiences, it won’t necessarily be in the order in which they took place.
Recollections of how we developed our Secret RecipesTM and the unique circumstances under which this dining room table operation has endured, will surely never make the ‘Best Seller’ list and, perhaps, not even interest most critics, let alone the skeptics, who predicted that the public’s interest in my kind of recipes would not last long. Having been our only source of income since August 1976, I would say they made a mistake in judgement.
In my blog posts, like mom’s own patch-work quilt style writings, I try to bring “my readers” a hodge-podge of happy recollections of Mom, with current interests to “homemakers” and nostalgia from days gone by. Add in a few smiles and, maybe, a giggle or even a belly-laugh.
Like Mom, I enjoy sharing little bits of knowledge with a recipe or two from Mom’s extensive collection. I have so many wonderful memories, traditions and teachings that Mom instilled in me, as her mom taught her. I can only hope that, in sharing them with all of you, they may benefit someone else, in some way, as much as they have me and my family!
In honor of TODAY, being National Macadamia Nut Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Coconut-Macadamia Nut Cookies, Inspired by Mrs. Field’s; as seen in her self-published book… The Copycat Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1988, p. 96).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
The month of September observes, among other things… Better Breakfast Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, National Self-Improvement Month, and National Whole Grains Month!
Plus, as the first FULL week in September (for 2023) it’s also… National Waffle Week!
September 7th is… National Beer Lover’s Day, National Neither Snow Nor Rain Day, National Grandma Moses Day, National Acorn Squash Day, National Salami Day, and National New Hampshire Day! Plus, as the second Thursday in September (for 2023), it’s also… National School Picture Day!
Friday, September 8th is… National Ampersand Day!
Saturday, September 9th is… National Wiener Schnitzel Day!
Among my children’s favorite memories of their grandparents, they all agreed on the fall seasons that Mom and Dad took them to the Ruby Tree Farm & Cider Mill (Ruby, MI), when they were young.
It was a tradition they truly looked forward to every year – the petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides, cider and donuts. Unfortunately this iconic, local, Americana business is no longer around.
…36 down and 16 to go!