Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan Pride

Thank God it’s Monday, again. I personally look forward to all Mondays, as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with everyone! Therefore, happy Monday to one and all.



First of all, I want to congratulate our Detroit Lions football team for their fantastic season, thus far. We’re so proud of our Detroit Lions’ pride!

As a proud, born-and-bred Michigander, having been raised by two other proud, born-and-bred Michiganders, today, I want to write about my wonderful state; as this Thursday, January 18th, is (among other things) National Michigan Day.

I love my home state of Michigan. In my biased opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful states in our country. Michigan has the longest, fresh water coastline in the U.S., at 3,288 miles. It borders four of the five Great Lakes, which is a major part of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is second only to Alaska in total length of coastline. Michigan is a multicultural “melting pot”, like the rest of North America. Vocations in shipping, manufacturing, and the auto industry attracted a large variety of immigrants, who wanted to live the “American dream” here.

It’s also home to an abundance of other natural beauty, historic places, famous people, iconic foods, renowned restaurants, and much more. Like my parents, I don’t want to live anywhere other than Michigan.

I lived in Houston for six months, shortly after I had left home. In the meantime, Mom and Dad (with my younger sister) had moved to California. However, we all ended up missing our home state and our small hometown; thus, we all ended up moving back.

According to (from Jan. 4, 2022), two years ago, Michigan had the second highest share of people, at 76.3%, who still live in the state where they were born – less than two points behind #1 Louisiana and less than two points ahead of #3 Ohio. I was born less than an hour’s drive from where I grew up, as well as from where I live now.

My husband was born five miles away from where he grew up. In fact, we bought and currently live in his boyhood home, which was also his dad’s boyhood home. By the way, his dad was born only a mile away from here. This was his life-long home, built by his dad in 1931. He grew up here and bought it from his dad when he got married.

We both appreciate and value small town roots. We love Michigan and we’re proud to call it home. We were born here and we plan to stay here for the rest of our lives. Most of our relatives still live in the area, too. There are so many happy memories here. And there are so many more happy memories to make here, in Michigan.

An old proverb, “home is where the heart is”, originally attributed to “Pliny the Elder” (A.D. 23-79), has many interpretations. “Home” has come to mean more than just a structure! Wherever we go in life, “home-sweet-home” memories are deeply engrained in our Michigander hearts, like Norman Rockwell paintings.

I have so many great, childhood memories of some of the family vacations we’ve taken to many of Michigan’s famous tourist destinations like Tahquamenon Falls, Sault Ste. Marie, Mackinaw City, and Mackinac Island; as well as some small town jewels, like Alpena and Tawas.


At, Matt Heffner wrote a great article,12 Cutest Towns in Michigan to Explore (Updated: Dec. 12, 2023), about some of the charming small towns, worth visiting in Michigan. Many were Mom and Dad’s favorite map dots, to which they’d escape for a weekend and unwind from work – or to investigate new restaurants and dishes to duplicate.

Small towns are famous for having friendly, honest, and polite people in them. The attractiveness of small-town life, besides being surrounded by natural beauty, is its slow-paced simplicity; emphasizing the importance of community, family roots, and authenticity.

Every Michigan town has something unique and interesting about them. I wrote about a fellow Michigander who’s literally been collecting map dots, traveling to every town in our state. I want to mention him again, because he has an awesome Facebook page, called Scott’s Michigan adventures, where he’s been depicting his “map dot” travels.

Michigan’s small towns often create special festivals and/or leverage nearby, natural attractions to entice tourists to not only come and visit but also continually return. Did you know that fudge shops are in almost every tourist town, around here? It’s our number one tourist treat.

During the countless radio show interviews that Mom used to do around the country and internationally, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, she often received requests for imitating Michigan-based recipes. The appeals were usually from listeners who were re-located Michiganders and couldn’t find or enjoy their favorite, Michigan-made, iconic foods!


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 56)


AT THE TIME ALL of this was taking place [circa 1966-1977], we were living on Pointe Tremble Road in Clay Township, better known as Algonac, although we were not actually within the city limits. The Township was one of those areas that people didn’t really have any community pride in at that time.

Down the road from us, however, was a six-square-block area called Pearl Beach. This part of the North Channel area [on the St. Clair River], on the outskirts of Algonac, had played a historical part in the colorful development of that part of Clay Township – and of Michigan.

In the 1920s, rumrunners and bootleggers ran their booze by small boats from the shores of Pearl Beach to Harsens Island and then across to Canada. Down the road was the Chris-Craft plant where, during World War II, the PT boats were built. Chris Smith, who had founded the company, was quite a prominent member of the community.

The best part about Pearl Beach, however, is that it wasn’t a ‘legitimate city’. It was just an ‘area’, but Paul always promoted it as being the best place in the world to live, because it had no city politicians to contend with, no shopping center, no school system of its own and didn’t even have a police or fire department because they had never really needed one. Clay Township provided services of that nature to Pearl Beach.

One thing it DID have, though, that proved to be to our liking and benefit professionally… It did have a post office! The postmaster [at that time], Newt Aspenliter, even lived right next door to the post office. So, in keeping with the uniqueness of what I wanted to offer, I thought that coming from Pearl Beach would have more appeal to the public than anywhere else would.

Michigan-based restaurants that Mom and Dad would frequent to taste-test their famous dishes and develop imitations of them at home included delights such as the Bavarian Inn & Zender’s restaurants in Frankenmuth, from whose world-famous menus Mom imitated about a dozen dishes and bakery delights.

Famous Michigan eateries Mom investigated and from whose menus she duplicated over 50 imitations, were for places like the Cheesecake Factory, Olga’s Kitchen, Bill Knapp’s, Win Schuler’s, Elias Brothers’ Big Boy, and J.L. Hudson’s (no longer in business, but from whose menus, alone, she developed about three dozen imitations), for some examples.

Michigan is a treasure trove of great places, people, products, food and so much more. Here are some random bits of trivia that I’ve shared previously, about Michigan and Michiganders.

    • Many Michiganders go mushroom hunting (for morels) in mid-to-late spring.
    • November 15th (aka: “Opening Day”), is an unofficial Michigan holiday, celebrating the first day of rifle season for hunting our state animal, the white-tailed deer.
    • Wherever they go, Michiganders literally carry a map of the state in their hands.
    • Michiganders refer to the lower peninsula as the “mitten” and the upper peninsula as the “U.P.”
    • Those from Michigan’s mitten refer to the U.P.’s residents as “Yoopers”.
    • Yoopers refer to Michiganders from the lower peninsula as “Flatlanders” or “Trolls” (because they’re under “The Bridge”).
    • Michiganders refer to the Mackinaw Bridge as the “Mighty Mac”.
    • “The Thumb Area” (where I’ve lived for almost all of my life) is in the lower peninsula’s southeast quadrant.
    • Michiganders call a sliding-glass door a “door-wall” and carbonated soft-drinks are called “pop” rather than “soda”.
    • Only those who drive in Michigan understand how to make a “Michigan left”, which involves a special lane for making a U-turn, and then turning right.


In 1992, after appearing on several national talk shows during the previous decade, for being the Secret RecipesTM Detective, Mom was invited to also appear on the Tonight Show. But, having been over-whelmed by the fans’ responses to those appearances and our family not being able to keep up with the orders, Mom, regretfully, had to decline.

She had realized that she didn’t want to get so big that she’d lose the enjoyment she got from what she did. In the process, though, she did get to know Ed McMahon and his wife, Pam, both of whom were originally from Michigan. It seems like, wherever they went, Mom and Dad found often found kindred, Michigander spirits.

In fact, Mom often found that to be true whenever she heard from relocated Michiganders, who couldn’t find their favorite Michigan products. Way back when, during many of Mom’s radio show interviews, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, she often received requests from listeners who were re-located Michiganders.

They often wished for recipes of the iconic Michigan-made foods they grew up on but could not find, any longer. Examples include sweet treats from the Sanders Candy Company, Mackinac Island fudge, Vernor’s Gingerale [“pop”, as Michiganders call it – otherwise, known as “soda” to the rest of the world], and Olga’s bread – to name a few.


In honor of TODAY, being National Fig Newton Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Fig New Funs Bars” (like Fig Newtons), as seen in her self-published cookbook, Make Alike Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1991, p. 42).


P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…


January observes, among other things… National Hobby Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Mentoring Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Slow Cooking Month, National Soup Month, and National Sunday Supper Month.


Plus, as the second FULL week of January (14th-20th, for 2024) this week also observes… Universal Letter Writing Week and National Pizza Week, which always start on the second Sunday of January.

Today is also… National Bagel Day, National Booch Day, National Hat Day, and National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. Plus, as the third Monday in January (2024), it’s also… Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Additionally (for 2024), it’s the start of… National No Name-Calling Week, which always starts on the third Monday of January and runs through that Friday.

Tomorrow is… National Nothing Day and National Religious Freedom Day.

Wednesday, January 17th, is… National Bootlegger’s Day and National Hot Buttered Rum Day.

January 18th is… National Peking Duck Day and National Thesaurus Day. Plus, as the third Thursday of the first quarter (for 2024), it’s also… Get to Know Your Customers Day.

Friday, January 19th, is… World Quark Day and National Popcorn Day.

January 20th is… National Buttercrunch Day and National Cheese Lover’s Day. Plus, as the third Saturday in January (2024), it’s also… National Use Your Gift Card Day.

Sunday, January 21st, is… National Granola Bar Day and National Hugging Day. Plus, as the start of the third full week in January, it’s also the start of… World Kiwanis Week, Hunt for Happiness Week, National Healthy Weight Week, and National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week.


…3 down, 49 more to go!

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