Goforth and Crack Up

Good morning, glories! It's pouring rain here, and I hope with all my heart if it is raining where you are, you still have some sunshine in your soul. I'm tickled that Blog Hendersonville has plastered my name all over Henderson County by telling everybody out in blogland to "Goforth and Crack Up." If you don't believe me, look for yourself. Right here's where she said it, and I say bring on the fame to the both of us:


I'll get back to myself in a minute, but I just wanted to say one more thing before I leave off talking about Betty Feezor, who I said a bunch about yesterday. She had a home-maker show on WBTV out of Charlotte for something like 25 years before she stepped out the kitchen door and walked away to Glory at the tender age of 53.

Just look at this picture of her, and you will see a woman who was not me. My hair never laid back in waves like that, no matter whether I used sponge rollers or spit curls. I never dressed up that nice to go to church, a wedding or a funeral, much less to beat up eggs in a bowl in the kitchen, and my kitchen didn't look that clean when the house was new and we hadn't moved in yet. Of course, that's not a picture of Betty Feezor at home. That's Betty Feezor on TV, and maybe her own kitchen was a mess. Maybe at home you could catch her with her hair looking like a Brillo soap pad. But what you see in that picture ought to give you an idea of what was the ideal woman of that time, and if you're young and think that doesn't matter to you, you just don't have much sense.

That was in the 1950s, when the saying "a woman's place is in the home" wasn't an insult but just a fact. Well, it might have been an insult, depending on who was saying it. Making a home was an art form, and Betty Feezor herself called it "home-making arts." If a woman was good at it--which I was in my own way, I guess--she was praised for it. And if she wasn't, she was ranked one notch above a street walker.

So young girls were brought up that how good you were was all tied up in how good of a home-maker you were. In my place and time, if a girl was called "smart" that meant she had eight arms. She could cook good and kept her house so clean a roach wouldn't even come looking. Girls my age--for most of you that would be your grandmother or great-grandmother--would put all she had in being what I've lately heard called "a domestic diva."

You had a commode so sparkling white you'd want to stand and stare in it. Your floor was so clean and waxed so smooth a fly would bust its A double S skidding across it. You could bake a cake that didn't sag in the middle, cookies that didn't burn. You could cut up a whole chicken and you could fry up that chicken with a crispy crust. You could wipe snotty noses and help your kids with their arithmetic.

And what was known but seldom said, was that you could do all that and still hop in bed and ride your man all night.

You were glad to do it. You were glad for your little house with its two or three little bedrooms and one bathroom with pink and black tile that was out of date. You were glad for your one station wagon that belonged to the whole family, and you didn't know anybody who didn't have to ask her husband if she could borrow the car to go to the store.

Then came the time when being a good home-maker was looked down on, all but the part about riding your man, anyhow. All of a sudden, women like me were supposed to "do something." "What do you do?" you got asked everywhere you went. Made you feel like a toad. And, truth be told, a lot of us wanted to do something. We'd had to take the men's jobs during WW II and we got a taste of what making our own money was like. I tell about this in that story of my life called The Days Between the Years. I tell how I learned to play Rosie the Riveter during the war only to get hustled right back to playing Betty Crocker after the war was over, stuck in the house all day long with Mr. Clean.

And some of us had to go out and work pitiful little jobs because we were married to bums or the good men we'd married had turned to scum. That was me. Also, right about that time, they started coming out with these new appliances that made housework easier. A lot of things changed right about then. You can do the Google and find out more than you'd ever want to know about that time.

But the main thing is women like me fell through the cracks. A lot of us didn't know what to do with ourselves and all those new freedoms and expectations.
I've two minds about all of this, not that anybody's asking.

For one thing, if you are a young woman and you aren't on your way to doing something where you can make your own living and take care of yourself, don't let me find out about it or I'll chase you down and beat you with a stick. You need to get to where a man is a nice thing to have, but optional, like an alligator pocketbook. Women back in my time didn't have that and a lot of them would have cut loose if they could.

But then again, I look back on the days when making a casserole or sewing up a scarf was looked at as an art, not because it gave me the big head, but because you can get a lot of pleasure out of doing those little things that might not make the headlines. Now, I'm always picking on Martha Stewart here on this blog thing. I do in that book, too. But even if you think she's a regular B-word and ought to have lived out her life in prison, you have to say she did a lot to make us think better of the little things in life.

When I look back on my life now, one of the things that stands out is the time I was into taking little packages of chewing gum and making little trains, using toothpicks and Lifesavers for the wheels and chocolate Kisses for the smokestacks. When I was all finished, I had the most darling little name card holders for the residents of the nursing homes. You could put one by the place where each resident was supposed to sit in the dining room. And the really good thing was when it got old or the wheels fell off you could eat it. Now, even though that stands out in my mind as a good memory, I've all but forgotten how to do it so if any of you know the recipe, write me, and I'll try to put it up here to share with others.

I'm real disappointed in Arlene for not sending me a picture of her husband's grandma's magic garbage bowl. I can't help but wonder how she'd feel if she came here one day and found that I'd flown to Glory. I've got a new friend, though, who collects mermaids. Her name is Marty, and I hope real soon to get her to share pictures with me. If she'll let me, I'll put up a little album of her pictures and call it "Marty's Mermaids," but maybe that's just a dream.

Until next time, "that's all folks," as the bunny said.