In the Blink of an Eye — Westward Ho 4

Happy is the husband of a good wife; the number of his days will be doubled. A loyal wife brings joy to her husband, and he will complete his years in peace. A good wife is a great blessing; she will be granted among the blessings of the man who fears the Lord. Whether rich or poor, his heart is content, and at all times his face is cheerful…
Sirach 26:1-4

The other thing that stands out is Mom’s venture with Sugar & Spice. I’ll never forget the day she was thumbing through the paper [Belvidere (IL) Daily Republican] and said, “We need a food page for this paper. There just isn’t anything for us women!”

sugar & spiceI responded, “You should tell Pat [Mattison, the publisher].”

Well, she fussed and fretted but finally agreed she would approach the boss man with the idea. She came up with an outline and a format. She came up with story ideas. She second guessed herself. She came up with a thousand reasons why it wouldn’t work.

But, I had confidence in her. I simply asked her if she believed in the idea. I knew she could pull it off … she just had to believe in herself.

Finally, with a lot of prayer and a deep breath, she walked into Pat’s office and presented her idea. Two weeks later – Oct. 3, 1981 – her idea hit print and began a nearly four-year ride that drew women into the Daily Republican.

Here are her words, which convey more of the passion than I ever could, dated April 24, 1985:

“Since the word went out I was no longer going to be the food editor for the Daily Republican I have had many of you call to express your regrets and give me your best wishes.

birthdayOver a period of almost four years as the food editor, we’ve shared everything from squid tasting to the birth of my fifth child (Although I admit all of you copped out in the delivery room!)

Although walking down ‘memory lane’ is difficult for me, especially without shedding a tear or two, let’s take the walk together, recapping some of those memories.

Before “Sugar & Spice” became a reality, it was a dream. I had gotten into one of my famous moods. I really didn’t have anything to do. After all, I only had four kids to run after at the time.

I remember just finishing reading the paper. I looked at my husband and said, ‘We need a food page in this paper. There just isn’t anything for us women.’

By the look on his face, I knew he was thinking … here we go again! I was very surprised when he wanted to know what I thought should be there. After tossing out a few ideas he said, ‘Fine. Talk to Pat (Mattison).’

 ‘Who me?’ I thought that one over for quite some time before I decided nothing ventured was certainly nothing gained. Armed with pad and pen and a head full of ideas, I approached Mr. Mattison on the idea. After speaking with him and Editor Al Post, I left for home … with a new job! I must admit this was the first of many times I began to feel pangs of panic!

What did I just agree to do? I was definitely not a writer. I certainly wasn’t a home economist. The only experience I had was on-the-job training! I’d been cooking since the age of eight and that gave me 25 years of experience! (Wow! That’s a lot of meals, not to mention dishes. Time for a meal out! And stop adding!)

Where to start was my next question. It was already September. Fall had rushed in and the apples were ripe for the picking. It was a perfect beginning. The time had come for my first interview.

Now, there’s one I’ll never forget! I was scared!!! No, actually petrified is a more suitable description of how I felt. Once the interview was set up and completed — actually it wasn’t as hard as I had imagined — another first was to take place. Put the information down on paper!

funny frontHave you ever seen movies where the reporter is trying to write a story and next to him on the floor can be found several sheets of crumbled papers. I had the biggest pile ever seen and it was next to my desk in the family room! I finally got it all together, though, and on Oct. 3, 1981, my dream (‘Sugar & Spice’) became a reality.

funny inside 1funny inside 2funny inside 3Since that first issue, we’ve experienced a lot of ‘firsts’ together. One that stands out in my mind, is my ‘first’ food demonstration. I had received a call from one of the ladies at a local Belvidere church, wanting to know if I would give a demonstration. I told them I would be happy to come, and hung up the phone. Remember the panic I spoke about earlier.? That was kid stuff compared to what I felt then!

The day came for the demonstration. What a day! I’ll just briefly run through some of the events leading up to that evening. My in-laws were out for their yearly visit. The temperature had climbed into the 90s, which is a disaster for us winter folks. My oldest son was outside trying to clean our pool so we could all cool off.

me & momSuddenly, he was yelling for me to come out and help him. Amid the commotion, I soon discovered our outside spigot wouldn’t turn off. Our entire yard was rapidly turning into a swimming pool. My father in-law tried desperately to turn the water off. It wasn’t long before the knob broke! (Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink!) Joe was working and really couldn’t do anything to help the situation, the baby was screaming to be fed, water was running all over the place and there I stood! Eventually, we solved the problem, but I still had to prepare something for everyone to eat, gather up the food for the demonstration, dress and collect myself to speak to a group of ladies.

I loaded the car and off I went, shaking in my boots. I didn’t have time during the course of this day to prepare what I would say. All I could do was pray and hope the words would come. Standing in front of the women, I decided what the heck, with the day I had just put in, I may as well share it. After all if I had put this one in a book no one would have believed it We all laughed over that day and somehow had managed to get through another ‘first!’

dinner‘Sugar & Spice’ — and the friendship and camaraderie of you, the readers — was always in my mind, even at the Food Editor’s Conference. Now there was an experience!

Never attending before, I thought it would be a rigid schedule of one speaker after another. That wasn’t quite how it was. In fact it was a day filled with food! Instead of weeding my way through boring speakers, I ate my way through many Chicago restaurants, experiencing nouvelle cuisine, fresh catfish, chocolate desserts and breakfasts! Fresh fruits, hot and cold cereals, a variety of meats and more.

We won’t talk about the squid and alligator. Yes, it was a tough job, but someone had to do it!

Even on vacation, ‘Sugar & Spice’ came along. I had to make sure I sampled a large variety of foods in order to be able to report back to you! Of course, like someone going off to war, battle scars are bound to be collected. Mine came in the form of pounds! Over the course of almost four years, I have to admit I’ve gained a little more than four pounds! But, it was all in the line of duty!

We’ve visited many local kitchens through the years, discussed the pros and cons of many diets, celebrated the holidays with new and delicious recipes and viewed, previewed and reviewed new cookbooks. We’ve sampled new products, eaten our way through foreign countries, met television celebrities, judged Mc??? and helped children learn how to cook. We’ve watched and cheered local homemakers as they pursued a little piece of ‘fame’ through their talents in the kitchen, and we were blessed — and honored and surprised — our peers thought enough of our work to recognize it with a first place among statewide Associated Press competition.

We’ve also been able to share the news of ‘special’ events around the area, as well as learn how to take better care of ourselves. I guess we have covered a lot of ground since that ‘first’ ‘Sugar & Spice’ page.

familyYou, the readers, have expressed your gratitude in so many ways. You’ve trusted my judgment, enjoyed our sharing experiences and invited me into your homes. I have truly made a lot of friends through ‘Sugar & Spice.’ I’ve had an opportunity few people experience. Not only have I been able to see a dream become a reality, but I’ve watched it grow to maturity.

Although this is the end of ‘Sugar & Spice’ for me, it is the beginning of still another dream. Many have asked me what I would do with all my ‘spare’ time. All of my efforts will now be directed into seeing another dream come to maturity. Since July of last year, I have been publishing m own Christian family magazine. And, of course, I still have the five kids – six if you count Joe – to juggle, so I doubt I’ll have to be concerned with ‘spare’ time.

with nicolleOur walk down memory lane together has come to an end, and the time has come to say good bye. I want to thank each and every one of my readers for their never-ending support. I only wish I could do it personally. I’ve enjoyed not only bringing you ‘Sugar & Spice,’ but being able to share some of my experiences (as well as experiments!) with you. We’ve been through a lot together.

What better way to wrap up ‘Sugar & Spice’ than to pull some of my favorite recipes to share with you.

Enjoy! God bless. And, thanks for all those memories!”

Mom was at peace during those four years. Sure, it was sometimes hectic, but she so enjoyed gathering and trying the recipes and sharing them with her audience. And, of course, I didn’t mind trying those delicacies either.

me & mom 2I always knew she could do it. Mom could do anything she set her mind to. In fact, if you wanted her to spread her wings, all you had to do was tell her she couldn’t do it. She was stubborn enough to prove you wrong.

I only wish she would have taken more risks and pursued more dreams. But, then again, she was more comfortable taking care of others rather than herself.

To be continued …

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Prayer is talking with God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. — Josh McDowell

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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