Wednesday, March 7


The trouble with me and housekeeping was always that I'd rather make the catnip mouse look at the carpet monkey than keep them all shiny clean. More and more now, I like them all clean, but mostly I'd still rather play, or read, or talk to the cat. But I did once win an award, and I have the proof. In 1961 (or 60) I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award. I've spoken about it before, but maybe not here. It's behind occasional "Housekeeping" entries, so here it is. Betty sponsored an annual contest through high school home ec. departments. I wasn't in Home Ec., but the guidance counselor got wind of it and told me I should take the test. Well, I won for my small state because, like most of the other (female) winners, I was smart and had enough common sense to be able to answer which kind of sandwich would squish in a lunchbox and other esoterica. For winning I got a medal, a $1000 one-time college scholarship (1/3 of an annual expensive education back then), and a week-long trip to New York City, Williamsburg, and Washington DC (back before every fifth grader went there every year). This trip was a big deal and lots of fun. I'd scarcely been out of my 50 mi. X 30 mi. state, and I loved every minute of it.
But the irony was that we lucky few were not all home ec. students, but future teachers, scientists, doctors, etc. At least some of the other girls took their home ec. teachers. I took an English teacher who was the yearbook advisor, and the home ec. people were miffed they hadn't gotten to go, but I didn't even know them.

I feel as though I make a home as well as the next person and have always done so, but it's not always the traditional picture, the -- "Betty Crocker," as we'd say.

In liberated later decades the award was renamed the "Future Family Living Leader" or something dumb like that, to include boys.

There's just one medal; I made a collage to show front and back.

Housekeeping notes will return: washing dishes! ironing! sweeping! Honey bears -- uh oh, they just busted in -- revenge for Goldilocks, they're shouting....


zack said...

Those folks at Betty Crocker should have mentioned that you were going to graduate from Harvard, get two graduate degrees, start and run your own school, publish a paper on miscue analysis, and go on to run a library, bringing it into the digital age with digital cataloging and blogging, all while periodically teaching literature. What touches me in particular, beyond your "on-paper" credentials, are the personal affects you've had in your life: the fellow in your classroom in Cleveland who wrote, "I dig the jazz Miss Hyde plays, and I don't want to got to Viet Namn like my brother and get shot..." or like your former student from the Montessori school you started, who is now a CIA operative, examining satellite imagery of middle-eastern countries, or the fact that most of my friends who have ever met you, from high school through college and on, still ask after you when they talk to me.
Oh, and I think that the Betty Crocker folks forgot to mention that you would end up kicking it with Abigail Folger, Ram Dass, and Ursula K. Leguin.
I do have to say, though, that I love the picture of the little mouse and the carpet monkey.


St. Dunstan Library said...

Thanks, love. You have quite a memory. But to keep the record right, I didn't publich the paper on miscue analysis. I just turned it in. As I said, all those Betty Crocker picks were smart girls. The funny thing about our trip was that during it they picked three national winners. The top was a mischievous girl who'd disobeyed the trip rules and gone out at night! Betty knew what she was cookin', no? Did I say that the coolest thing about that trip was that I got to meet a girl from every single state? better than collecting license plate sightings, even.
Trying to read Pamuk's "Snow," but it just isn't grabbing me. I spilled coffee on it, though, so at least it looks read. (Did you see the piece on mishandling books at the back of the latest NYTBR? I can relate to thank, having once dropped a hardcover copy of "Portrait of a Lady" into the (clean) toilet.)("Snow" is from St. Dunstan Library, which believes in including award winners even if they're unlikely to be read by a teenage boy, because you never know.)
I'm saving Richard Ford's "The Lay of the Land" for the beach next week. Wzpmex and out!

Anonymous said...

My name is Phyllis (Jensen) Dillon. In 1974-75 I won the Homemaker of the Year award from Betty Crocker. I was thrilled, and carried the medal with me for thirtyfive years, hoping to pass it down to my daughter. Then Hurricane Katrina changed my plans, when it destroyed my home, and with it all my memories. I've written to the Betty Crocker company in hopes that I can have it replaced. So far, no luck. It was so important to me. It was quite a sad feeling when I saw your picture of the medal. What will be will be eh?

Phyllis Dillon
New Orleans, LA

Callie said...

Thanks for the blog. I was doing some research on Betty Crocker and came across your blog. I had no idea there was such a thing as a Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award. Delightful.