Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Sizzling Summer Celebrations

Thank God it’s Monday. I look forward to every Monday. They’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you. Therefore, happy Monday AND happy July.



Michigan’s cold, wet winter and spring is long gone, for now. The Dog Days of Summer are about to begin. Occasionally, it’s just too hot in the summer to cook anything in the oven, let alone on the stove top. On those days, we like to eat out – as in outside.

Who doesn’t love backyard picnics with grilled foods on sunny, summer days? Today we thankfully greet July, which celebrates National Grilling Month, National Hot Dog Month, and National Picnic Month, among other things.

Those long winters make Michiganders (and other northerners) appreciate the summertime more than most others. In the Great Lakes region, where I grew up and continue to live, we’re always excited to celebrate summer – any excuse for a backyard party and/or barbeque.

When we lived along the St. Clair River, in Algonac, I remember Dad taking our family on boat rides up and down the river, to cool off. Sometimes we’d stop somewhere along the way for an ice cream treat. I can almost taste it, now.


I have many great memories from my childhood of family, summer weekend vacations to places like Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island (MI), Cedar Point (OH), Tahquamenon Falls (MI), Niagara Falls (Ontario) and more.

Going through Mom’s old photo albums and scrapbooks brings up so many more memories of our family’s vacations. Mackinac Island is probably my favorite. It’s a very nostalgic place – no cars are allowed on the island, so getting around is usually done by foot, bicycle or horse, in some manner.

Sometimes we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day. Sometimes we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; it was always a magical trip back in time… especially when the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there.

It was a special experience for all of us! Did you know, long before that, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel? In 1947, Ethel Merman swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of This Time for Keeps. Thus, the pool was named after her.


As seen in…


(And Other Fond Memories of Days Gone By)

By Gloria Pitzer

I SEE THE NEIGHBORHOOD kids are in the spirit of summer… and it makes me remember, quite fondly, those days during which our own five youngsters were home and very much underfoot.

Although, some of the memories are pleasantly enjoyed today, in the absence of our offspring, some of those by-gone days were not all pretzels and beer! I recall really trying to enjoy summer vacation, even though I had the feeling I was just a first grade version of ‘See Mother Run’.

Most of the vacation weeks (and I use the reference loosely), were spent wandering through aspirin lectures, asking perfect strangers: ‘How many more days until school opens?’

As I [remember], we stopped spending vacations with the children; considering how, one summer, we spent 2 weeks on the turnpike… and lived to tell about it…

There honestly were positive virtues to the 9am to 3pm [school] schedules, which left us mothers 5 days a week, from September through June, during which we were not answering dumb questions. For one thing, it was none of the kids’ business why I looked pale and plump in a bathing suit.

I knew, the minute I walked into Chubby Chicks’ Swimwear Boutique, summer (for me) would mean running under the lawn sprinkler in very dark glasses and a body shirt, cleverly created out of a porch awning by some shut-in from General Hospital!

Actually, it was my husband’s idea, out of consideration for the neighbors, that he only let me sit on the patio in my bathing suit after dark. He also claimed that I discouraged mosquitos. This is the same man who would stand on the porch, whenever I sang in the shower, so the neighbors could see that he was not beating me!

The same man, mind you, who would come home from (and I quote him exactly) ‘an exhausting day of fishing’ and ask, seriously – when was I planning to clean off the top of the refrigerator, did I write to his mother, did I have fun at the Book Mobile with 5 kids and would it be alright if we ‘ate out’?

That, by his definition, was hot dogs in the backyard over a fire in the grill that I would have to make. He just didn’t understand why I spent my summer vacation counting the days ‘til school opened again!

But then he never had to find band aids for braless Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe [‘action figures’], who got sucked into the vacuum cleaner hose periodically. My lovable, better half never had to wander through a vast wasteland of Pop Tart wrappers and Mr. Misty cups…

[Meanwhile] 7 neighborhood kids motorbiked their way through the yard, the flower beds and into the center of a National Noise Abatement Program, sympathetically excused by 3 probation officers who did not have to live next door to them!

Summer vacation, as some laughingly refer to those 10 weeks [mid-June to September], is NOT a vacation; but more like an endurance test, during which those families who stayed together got on each other’s nerves!

It was enough to leave a mother looking like a wire service photo that, by all rights, should have been printed under the caption: ‘NEVER MIND SENDING HER KIDS TO CAMP – HELP SEND THIS MOTHER AWAY!’

It’s mothers that need the vacation – not the kids! Ten weeks of kids at home and Mother could develop a personality of a dental drill with a voice to match! But, as I recall, telling the 5 kids one day, everything would be alright as soon as Daddy got home.

And the questions I had to answer all by myself – questions like: ‘How many more days until school starts?’, ‘Can I have a popsicle?’, ‘Can I have my allowance?’, ‘How come you’re always yelling at me?’, ‘Have you seen my tennis shoes?’, ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’… and those were just the questions my HUSBAND asked!

Compared to all those [questions] that the kids would ask me during the day, I could [better] take those which my husband posed to me. He meant well. But he never did understand that a mother’s vacation doesn’t start until school does!


The summer months always seem to wiz right by me, leaving me to feel like I never get to completely enjoy them. On the other hand, the winter months linger on, endlessly. I want to savor every wonderful day of summer, as they pass by too fast here, in Michigan.

Inspired by an article I read about five years ago, at, 10 Fun Things to do in the Summer, I’ve been annually creating a bucket list of five special things I want to experience or do that summer. This year, my list includes seeing the Kiss monument at Cadillac High School and the mushroom houses in Charlevoix, MI.

I also want to find Petoskey stones along the Lake Michigan Shoreline and camp and kayak somewhere we’ve never been before (in Michigan, of course).

Every year, around this time, I play the TetrisTM shuffle game in my basement; trying to unbury our summer camping gear from some of the garage sale stuff I picked up for a bargain, the prior summer – thinking I might use it someday. That got buried behind my fall and Halloween décor and then by my massive Christmas collection.


After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, they bought a camper and traveled even more – after all, it was much more affordable with only the two of them. Joining the Good Sam Club was one of their most favorite experiences. They always looked forward to the Good Sam “Jamborees”.

Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from all of their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters. Mom also wrote about her and Dad’s trips throughout most of her summer newsletter issues, especially regarding the great friendships they made everywhere they went.


July is the seventh month and midway point of the year. It’s represented by many symbols such as its birthstone, the ruby, and flowers like the larkspur and water lily. This month is also represented by the eagle (a symbol of freedom).

Orange (like a fire’s flame) is said to be the color that represents July; however, every American town is bathed in red, white, and blue decorations this month in honor of our Independence Day. Coincidentally, the element of fire is said to be July’s “soul symbol”.

July is considered to be the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s favored for taking vacations because of its consistently warm and sultry weather.

Additionally, July 3rd rings in the start of The Dog Days of Summer, which runs through August 11th. I have many happy memories from my summers, as a child. Every year, there were always backyard barbecues and picnics to host or attend.

Summertime also had another special meaning in our family, as Mom and Dad’s first born and last born children – my oldest brother, Bill, and my younger sister, Cheryl – ironically, share July 3rd as their birthdays (9 years apart). The rest of us, Mom and Dad included, have winter birthdays.

Birthday traditions, as we were growing up, included our choice of birthday cake and icing flavors, as well as what we wanted to have for dinner. Plus, we got to choose what TV shows we wanted to watch that night. Having only one TV in the household, that was a really big perk, way-back-when.

Thanks for visiting! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my memories of Mom and other related things. Please, check out the Crafts tab for my latest July posts, including one of Mom’s satirical articles about her friend, Carol Duvall (who passed away last July). If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at [email protected].


In honor of TODAY, being National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day (plus, it’s National Ice Cream Month), here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Flowered John’s Sons – Spumoni”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 253). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]. As always, I’m asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.




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


July’s observances include: National Baked Bean Month, National Culinary Arts Month, National Horseradish Month, National Independent Retailer Month, National Peach Month, and National Blueberry Month.

Today is also… National Gingersnap Day, National Postal Worker Day and National U.S. Postage Stamp Day.

Tomorrow is… National Anisette Day.

Wednesday, July 3rd, is… National Fried Clam Day, National Eat Your Beans Day, and National Chocolate Wafer Day. It’s also two of my siblings’ birthday – the oldest of us kids, Bill, and the youngest, Cheryl (aka: Loli).

Thursday, July 4th, is… of course, our Independence Day, as well as National Barbecued Spareribs Day and National Caesar Salad Day.

Friday, July 5th, is… National Apple Turnover Day, National Graham Cracker Day, National Hawaii Day, and National Workaholics Day.

July 6th is… National Hand Roll Day and National Fried Chicken Day. Plus, as the first Saturday in July (for 2024), it’s Hop-a-Park Day and National Play Outside Day (which is the 1st Saturday of EVERY month).

July 7th is… National Strawberry Sundae Day and National Macaroni Day.

NOTE: July 7th is also… the anniversary of Mom’s FIRST appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, in 1981.


…27 down and 25 to go!

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