Shirley McMurtrie

The Ultimate Diet

The Ultimate Diet

Some say there is nothing new under the sun. I disagree. There is always a new diet making the rounds. You can be sure that after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season the television will be overflowing with them. Old diet plans resurface with a new twist. Who do they think they're kidding? Those slim adolescent beauties were never fat. Put a fifty year old overweight mama of six kids on their diet plan and see if she is not a bunch of wrinkles. That is, if she is able to stay on their diet.

Box Elder Whistle

Box Elder Whistle

Lefty Frizzell sang a song about Saginaw, Michigan. He sang about the fancy houses the lumber barons of yesteryear built on Mansion Row. We didn't live in that part of town. We lived on the west side. Our house was the only one on a block in a working class neighborhood that never really took off. There was only one tree.

The tree wasn't a stately oak or a majestic elm. It was a young box elder tree growing near the driveway out near the street. No one planted it there. It just grew. That was a set up for trouble.

Woolworth's Lunch Counter

Woolworth's Lunch Counter

Wow! Look at those prices: Lime Ade, 5 cents; Sliced Ham Sandwich, 10 cents. I can't read the rest of the prices, but they were in line with what I could see. Look at those stools? You don't see any like them anymore. There were fountain cokes, homemade pies and cakes, and glazed doughnuts. I know about the doughnuts. I made them.

Four Bean Salad

Four Bean Salad

This recipe has been around a long time. I have taken it to church potlucks a time or two. It's a recipe you can make ahead, when you have a little extra time in an evening before bedtime. When you work full time, planning is important to get everything done.

With a husband and four children to tend to, extra moments were precious. I remember thinking how great it would be to lie down for an afternoon nap with the bedroom door shut. That was a luxury I never had. There was always someone or something that needed tended to on my days off.

Mending and Darning

Mending and Darning

When was the last time you sewed a button on a shirt? Do the heels of your socks need darning? What did you say? This is not a problem for you. Great! It was back in the day of the scrub board and those new-fangled wringer washers. I bet you haven't scorched a blouse recently either. Oh, you don't iron everything anymore? Sorry I asked. Let's get back to the good old days. Mending was a constant chore back then.

The City Briefs

The City Briefs

We had a lot going for us back in the day before television and DVD's. One was the City Briefs page in the newspaper. Mother read it religiously and never missed an opportunity to insert a family happening tidbit.

Let me tell you about that page. Happenings of the previous day found their way there. There was the police blotter listing all the crimes of the previous day. It told whose house was broken into and who was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. If there had been a series of break-ins in your neighborhood, you would be forewarned. That made good reading.

Fascinators

"Fascinator." My dictionary lists as its second choice: a woman's head scarf. I couldn't find a synonym for “fascinators” in my Synonym Finder. However, I did find several for “fascinate” that are appropriate. They include: attract, charm, bewitch and captivate. “Where is this going?” you ask. If you were around during World War II and you were of the female persuasion you would know. We all wore “fascinators.” We thought they looked fascinating. You might call them head scarves or babushkas.

Soft Sugar Cookies

Soft Sugar Cookies

My mother couldn't make a cake for sour apples, but she made a killer sugar cookie. She never used a recipe, just dumped everything in her dishpan, stirred, rolled it out, cut and baked. I don't have her recipe, but I found one close to it when I was first married in the late forties.

Maggie aka Maggot

dog

About forty years ago we were between dogs. Our precious Kater was gone. She was a full sized short haired dachshund. A friend at work had a long haired dachshund with a new litter of puppies. Kater had short black hair. These puppies would have long wavy red hair. The mother was pretty but mean. My friend distracted her long enough for me to grab the runt of the litter. It is said that they make the best pets. Not true.

Macaroni and Tomatoes

Tomatoes

When I was growing up during the Great Depression, we didn't have meat at every meal. Mother might fix fried eggs and fried potatoes for supper, but that was about it. Meat, such as bacon, wasn't used as an entree, but for seasoning. Boiled potatoes with their jackets on and scorched gravy was the norm.

Grandma Smoked

Clay Pipe

Dad's mother, Delora Thayer Stimer, smoked a clay pipe. He said that only the family knew it. After all, smoking was frowned upon by the Wesleyan Methodist Church. She was a devote member.

But Grandma was English. Clay pipes had been around since the sixteenth century over there. It was a form of relaxation for many women, both of the gentry and the working class. She didn't drink, but she certainly did smoke.

Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips

Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips

Has there ever been an Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips place around here? I consider their fish the best ever. I read on Facebook that there is one located somewhere in Ohio. That won't help my yearning for their fish triangles. But I do have the recipe that I will share with you.

You know, copy-cat recipes are published for popular restaurant dishes from time to time. Usually, they only taste somewhat like the desired item. There are even cookbooks published that claim to have prized recipes. This is the only recipe I have ever found to be as good as the original.

Lunch at Kresge's

Kresge's Menu

When you lived in the country, shopping in town was an all day affair. You would plan to eat lunch there. For me, it was the highlight of the trip. I planned my route and time to take me to my favorite spot for lunch. Isn't that a deliciously sounding word - “lunch”? I made a list of my shopping needs. I knew which store sold what at the price I could afford. I always planned to afford lunch.

My Dad, the Lineman

My Dad, the Lineman

Glenn Campbell had a song a while back called, “A Lineman for the County.” My dad was a lineman during the twenties and, again, just before World War ll. Dad worked out of an AFL union hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That was how you got that job in those days. Dad worked at various sites in the Midwest. He didn't work for any county.

California Here We Come

California Here We Come

Back in 1960 there were three ways to get to California, the same as now: automobile, train or plane. My stepfather's son lived in a suburb of Sacramento. He hadn't seen his son since Jimmy discharged from the Navy. Jimmy had married and was the father of a five year old daughter. My stepfather was anxious to visit them.

Shirley Temple and Me

Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple was born April 23, 1928. I was born January 11, 1928. That makes me older than that pint-sized movie star. Hold onto that thought and backtrack a bit. Popular names come and go. Shirley was a popular name for girls and boys, too, at the time. I went to school in Joliet, Illinois with four other Shirley's in my class. I even dated a guy named Shirley. He preferred to be called Bill.

A Haircut to Remember

A Haircut to Remember

Nowadays a man can get a haircut in a beauty salon. There was a time a man wouldn't have been caught dead in one. My, how times have changed. I got to thinking about a very special haircut when I was getting my hair cut at the the Cutting Crew salon in Maynardville the other day.

The incident I want to tell you about happened in the early 70's. There was a small barbershop on the road into town, like a number of one room barber shops in those years. This one went out of business shortly after our visit.

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