In From the Storm with Janice Cole Hopkins

The Scots who came to settle the mountain regions of the United States were a hardy lot, especially those who hailed from the Scottish Highlands. They felt at home settling in these areas few other immigrants wanted – areas like the Appalachians or the Rocky Mountains. A large amount of my heritage can be found among this group. Eighty-three percent of my ancestry come from the British Isles with a mixture of Scot, English, and Irish.

This is what happens in Mountain Storms, the first book in my In from the Storms Trilogy. Ian MacGregor was wounded in the Civil War and left Maryland to hide away in a mountain cabin in Wyoming Territory. He had been rejected because of his war wounds and wanted to move from society. Aileas Campbell stumbles on the cabin in a snowstorm after she runs away from unwanted attention. Neither suspect the adventure they’re about to begin or the changes God has in store for them.

The family saga continues in Past Storms. Jeannie MacGregor, at seventeen, feels imprisoned in the secluded mountain cabin with her taciturn brother, so she runs away and goes back to her aunt in Maryland, hoping to have a social life and find a suitor. But nothing turns out as she expected, and within a few years, she finds herself on a train back to Wyoming with her young daughter in tow. The unexpected interest of three men there surprises her, but only one man makes her heart beat faster. However, he’s the new pastor, and what would a man of God want with someone like her. He could hardly find a more unsuitable wife.

In Dust Storms, Brady Sharpe, Aileas’s stepbrother, wanders his way to Texas after Aileas refuses to leave with him. He tries ranching and becomes a foreman but never feels he truly belongs. After catching some cattle rustlers, he decides to leave but discovers a young woman in desperate need of help. He does his best but ends up deciding to take her back to Wyoming and get Aileas to help her. In their journey, they battle many storms, including a major dust storm and storms of the heart.

I loved writing this trilogy. Originally, I hadn’t planned to write Dust Storms, but when I finished Past Storms, Brady said I needed to tell his story, so I did. This has happened before in my character-driven novels. Readers seem to like this series, too, because these books have been my best-sellers for months.

I would like to offer one of you the chance to win a free copy of Mountain Storms. In addition, as long as they last, I would also like to give free codes for audible editions of one of the 3 books to any who have an Audible account (which is free but required to redeem the code). You can email me at janicecolehopkins@gmail.com, and I will send you the code for the book you request. Have a blessed day, ask me any questions you’d like, and I hope to hear from you soon.

 

13 Fun Filly Facts to Celebrate our 13th Birthday!

Yep! 13 years ago on August 13, 2007, we launched our very first blog, amateurs that we were. In that time, 35 bestselling western romance authors have called themselves fillies. Of those, 10 were founding fillies, and of those, 3 of us still remain. 

Linda Broday   ~   Pam Crooks  ~   Karen Kay

Want some more stats? In 13 years, we’ve had:

6,743 Posts

127,559 Comments

1,639,080 Views

That’s ALOT of activity on Petticoats & Pistols, and you, our dear readers, have shared yourself with us over and over again. We’ve become friends. Sisters, almost.

And that got us to thinking.

 

Guess which Fun Filly Fact goes with which filly! 

#1 – I was born in a tent to homeless parents and have twice seen that same situation since. My husband and I rode out an F-5 tornado inside our Texas home, lying flat in a hallway over our three little ones then shifted from place to place for nine months trying to survive. With only a high school education and pure grit, I will reach a publishing milestone in April 2021 with my 30th book that kicks off a new series.

#2 – I skydived when I was younger. Yep, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. I highly recommend it (if you’re not afraid of heights). The thrill is stupendous, the view is amazing, and the accomplishment lasts forever. I quit after my 5th jump, when my chute didn’t open, and I had to throw the reserve. Oh, and you have great stories to tell your grandbabies!

#3 – My life is a musical. My husband and I were both band nerds in high school, but after one semester of band in college, he convinced me to join choir. We sang all through undergrad and graduate school and even with an adult chorus that took a European tour. Our children grew up singing Disney, Wiggles, and VeggieTales songs, playing in the band in school, and on any given Sunday our pew sports all four parts in acapella style. Once, when my kids were little, we had a lady from church babysit for us. She said it was like watching the Von Trapps.

#4 – I worked in the deepest mine in North America at the time. My level was 6900 feet underground. My pard and I loaded muck from ore chutes into mine cars and hauled it to where it was dumped in a larger chute to be hauled up out of the mine during the graveyard shift. I know what the blackest of black looks like. I’ve also been underground in the Arctic. The most amazing ice crystals grew in the mine there—giant snowflakes about 6 inches across.

#5 – I was in my 40’s when I was adopted into the Blackfeet Tribe in Northern Montana. Chief Old Person adopted me into the tribe in July of 2001 in a ceremony during the Indian Day’s Pow-wow.  The Chief gave me an Indian name that I won’t share here because one doesn’t speak their own Indian name. (It’s considered boasting.)  I was adopted into the Tribe because of my work with them on literacy, and my life was changed forever…always yearning to be in Montana on the reservation.

#6 – While I was hunkered down in a London air raid shelter during the war, someone gave me a teddy bear and said, “May God protect you.”  Thinking “God” was the name of the teddy bear, I took him everywhere.  One night, while my mother and I were racing through the streets to the shelter, I realized I’d forgotten God. Doing what any self-respecting four-year-old would do under the circumstances, I threw myself on the ground and had a full-fledged temper tantrum.  Not knowing what else to do, my poor mother took me back to the house to retrieve the teddy bear.  As we were leaving the house, a bomb went off at the end of the street where we would have been had we not gone back. So,  just as the stranger promised, God had protected me. 

#7 – When I was about six, I was at my cousins’ house and they had a horse! Everyone was getting a ride but my mom said I couldn’t, I was too little, unless a grown up was out leading the horse. Well, the grownups went inside and left me with some terribly irresponsible children. So I begged and whined and finally convinced them it’d be okay if one of them led the horse. And I got up on what now seems to have been a huge animal, and walked along, and whoever was leading the horse let it slip out of their hands and the horse went trotting toward the barn and I fell off and broke my arm.

The only good part of that was, my two big sisters and my cousins got in Terrible Trouble.

#8 – I worked full time in the legal field, while co-owning two antique shops. With a business partner, I purchased the oldest barbeque cafe in town. That had me not only working full time in a demanding profession, having a wonderful husband and two teenagers, but owning three businesses. Then came along the acquisition of an ol’ timey Texas honky-tonk. I learned the bass guitar. Strange fact, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and couldn’t play that well; however, only at closing time my partner allowed me to join the band … most likely to clear out the customers before closing time. Thinking back, it was during that period I took my first writing course.  Fun, sweet memories!

#9 – While working as a newspaper reporter, I used to get sent out to do many agriculture related stories. One day, I went out to interview a couple that had sold their herd of beef cattle so they could turn their place into a “buffalo ranch” and sell the meat commercially. The husband was busy when I arrived, so the wife and I climbed in their big pickup and drove out to the pasture so I could get an up-close look at the animals. We reached the bison but they soon went from docilely grazing to agitated in seconds. The wife realized her husband had left a butchered carcass in the back of the pickup. The smell of that drove the bison wild and they stampeded. The wife swung the pickup around, hit the gas, and we bounced and jostled our way for the gate we’d left open, hoping to beat the bison there before they could escape. It was summer, the windows were rolled down, and one big ol’ boy stuck his head right up in my window. I could have counted his eyelashes if I hadn’t been scared witless. Then the wife said, “When we get to the gate, jump out and throw up your arms. I think they’ll stop.” I looked at her and told her she was crazy if she thought I was jumping in front of a few dozen beasts thundering straight at me. Thankfully, her husband appeared just in time to head off the bison and we made it safely out of the pasture. If I ever decide to include a stampede in story, I have first-hand experience! 

#10 – Have you ever been an unwitting participant in an FBI bust? I was! A lowly secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor, it was my job from time to time to man the front desk and screen guests. Imagine my surprise when, one day, a man came in, and when I asked, “May I help you?” he flashed his FBI shield at me with an “official” glare. “Quiet,” he said.  At that point, he went right on back to his intended target, a claims examiner who was taking money under the table to process black lung claims more expeditiously–and the black lung claimant, who was wearing a wire as the money was changing hands! Four of the six claims examiners were led out in cuffs that day and placed in a nondescript white cargo van, and Mr. FBI told me, “Don’t leave town. You may have to testify.” That was probably my most exciting day at work–ever.

#11 – I was lucky to have some fabulous and very interesting summer jobs during high school and college.  They included working as a data entry clerk for the local water works company (great first job with an interesting cast of characters), as an assistant at a library for two summers (Best. Summer. Job. Ever!),  schlepping backstage and ushering at the New Orleans Repertory Theater during their production of Three Penny Opera (Mack The Knife anyone?) and working as a computer science intern at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (awesome place with some incredibly smart and dedicated people).

#12 – I was an opera major with a flute minor in college and belonged to the top 15% of musicians in my age group on the west coast. I played my way into college (quite literally, winning a scholarship to a conservatory of music with Mozart’s Concerto in G). I have taught flute over the years, helped with my local high school music and drama departments, and was getting ready to join my local concert band (just to keep in practice) when the pandemic hit. As soon as the chaos is over, I’ll sign up!

#13 – As a young girl, I wanted to be a nun. Being from a devout Catholic family, my uncle was a priest, and my aunt was a nun. I remember going to visit her at the convent while she and the other nuns roller-skated in the basement, their habits and veils trailing behind them. They were laughing and having such a good time while they went around and around that small room. It made me think it would be fun to be a nun, too, and my aunt, who was only fifteen years older than me, did her best to convince me I should be one. 

Obviously, she failed.

#14 – BONUS FILLY FACT! – I turned to fostering dogs four years ago when faced with an empty nest. After seeing a post about an adorable female black pup (my weakness) needing a foster, I responded. While that pup had already found a foster, I took a tri-colored male mix puppy named Rowdy about to be euthanized, and a crusader was born. Since then, my family and I have fostered over 25 dogs or puppies. We’ve dealt with mange (zombie dogs are the best!), heart worm treatment for HW positive dogs, Parvo, and have loved every animal we’ve fostered. When I’m asked how I can let them go, I respond “Every one we let go makes room to save another.”

 

It’s our birthday, but you get the gifts!

  • Guess which Fun Filly Fact goes with which filly! 
  • Be sure to number your guesses in the comments.
  • You’ll be eligible to win a $13 Amazon Gift Card.
  • Check back on Sunday to see how many fillies you guessed right.
  • And if there’s any fun fact about YOU you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear it!

Happy Birthday to us!

A Tribute to a Dear Friend

Every so often a person comes along that deeply touches our lives. Glenda Kinard was that and more. An avid reader, she was a devoted follower on P&P who always chose to see the bright side of things even after she almost died in a horrible car wreck a few years ago. She spent months in surgeries and rehab and escaping into books helped her deal with the constant pain.

Glenda was a dear friend to us Fillies and to me in particular. She was always quick to comment on whatever the subject was on P&P. She loved learning and told me often that she’d learned more through blog posts than she ever had in school. A real treat came for me when I was able to meet her in person in Atlanta at a Romantic Times book convention in 2017. I dearly enjoyed spending time with her, her girls, and cousin. In fact, that was the highlight of my trip. I saw her enthusiasm and passion and knew I’d found a kindred spirit.

A Southern lady to the max, she had a sweet, awesome spirit and was so appreciative of everything anyone did for her. I will deeply miss her. In fact, I’m not sure how I’ll fill the hole she left behind. 

Rest well, my precious friend. You’re with the angels and your beloved daddy now.  You are loved.

 

                   

SETTING is a Character ~ by Tracy Garrett

It’s always a special day when one of our fillies return to the corral!  We’re so happy to have you with us again, Tracy!

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Have you ever noticed how the setting of a book is an essential part of a story? There may be exceptions, but I don’t think you can pick up a story and drop it into another place—state, landscape, town versus farm. It just wouldn’t work well.

 

When I started writing JAMES, I decide to set it in Nebraska for several reasons. First, I needed the town of King’s Ford to be close enough to a mining area that my heroine could make the trip, but far enough away that it would be dangerous for her. Since there was gold mining in the Black Hills of the Dakota territory, I grabbed my atlas (yes, I still have one) and looked for the path she would have to take. It led me to a place near Chadron, Nebraska, a real town in the northwestern corner of the state.

 

The location gave me a wagon route to Cheyenne, Wyoming, that a wagon train might take, and a grassland that would support a yearly cattle drive to the railhead in North Platte. Perfect, I thought.

 

Trout Ranch near Chadron, NE
Chadron, NE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I’d been through Nebraska once while on a tour with my college choir. We sang in Lincoln, then lit out for Colorado. All I really remember is that I could see the Rocky Mountains coming for hours and hours—it felt like days!

Eastern NE is flat!

So, my memory of Nebraska is flat. Research, however, made me realize that wasn’t the case for the area I’d chosen. Back to editing.

 

JAMES is set in the rolling hills of northwestern Nebraska. And those hills come into play in the story. So does the weather, but that’s another blog.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Do you care where a story is set or does it not really matter to you?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win one of two electronic copies of JAMES.

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JAMES by Tracy Garrett

After five years leading the Lord’s flock in King’s Ford, Nebraska, The Reverend James Hathaway is used to the demands on his time. But nothing could prepare him to find a baby in a basket on his front step. He always expected to marry before becoming a father. Then a young widow agrees to help him learn to care for the child and he wonders if he hasn’t found his future.

 

Widow Esther Travers is still reeling over the loss of her newborn baby girl when she’s asked to help care for another baby. Vowing to get the little one off to a good start, she doesn’t plan to fall for the very handsome preacher, too.

EXCERPT

“Reverend! Reverend Hathaway!”

James heard Tad shouting long before he reached the cabin at the north end of King’s Ford, the town he’d called home for nearly five years now. The seven-year-old ran errands for many folks in town, though most often it was for the doctor. If Doctor Finney was sending for a preacher this early in the morning, it couldn’t be good news. James buttoned his vest and pulled on his frock coat then glanced in the small mirror hung beside the front door to be sure his collar was tucked in properly, then studied his face.

He looked tired. A wagon had creaked and rumbled past his home well before dawn and the noise had dragged him from a sound sleep. He’d been sitting at the table since then, trying to write his Sunday sermon, but inspiration hadn’t gotten out of bed with him. Ah, well. It was only Tuesday.

James glanced around his small home. The parsonage, if you could call the drafty, poorly lit cabin by so lofty a title, sat at the far north end of town. The church sat to the south of the parsonage, which meant the larger building did nothing to block the winter winds that howled down from the Dakota hills thirty or so miles away.

Deciding he wouldn’t scandalize any parishioner he passed, he lifted his hat from the small table under the mirror and opened the door. He was so focused on Tad that he nearly tripped over a basket left on his stoop.

“What on earth?”

“A basket.”

“Yes, Tad, I see that. Who left it here?” He immediately thought of the wagon that had awoken him. “Why didn’t they knock? I’ve been home since nightfall.”

Tad crept closer, lifted a corner of the cloth covering the contents, and jumped back like there was a snake inside. “Baby!” Tad yelled.

“Don’t play games, Tad. Tell me what’s…” James didn’t jump away, though he wanted to. “Merciful heavens, there’s a baby in here.”

BUY on Amazon!

Ebook – https://amzn.to/3cBUP2I

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Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

Tracy

Bison Facts

 

I’m lucky to live close to a bison ranch and these are photos I took as we drove by the other day. They are impressive creatures and when I hear about people having close-up encounters with them in nearby Yellowstone National Park, I always wonder what they are thinking. These animals are powerful!

Here are a few bison facts:

Bison are the largest mammals in North America. (Which is why you shouldn’t try to get close to them.)

Historians believe that bison are called buffalo in North America because boeuf is the French word for beef. 

Bison have lived continuously in the Yellowstone National Park area since prehistoric times.

When a bison’s tail is hanging down or switching, it’s calm. If it’s up or standing straight out, it’s about to do something aggressive. (I’m sure that tail can go up fast, so I wouldn’t use the hanging tail as a safety barometer.)

Bison can run up to 35 miles per hour.

The average life span is 10 to 20 years.

Bison ancestors came from Asia over the land bridge during the Pleistocene. The Asian ancestors were much larger.

Bison are near-sighted.

Bison calves are reddish and are called red dogs.

Bison can be pronounced with an “s” or a “z” sound. The “s” is standard, unless you are rooting for North Dakota State University. They use the “z” proudly. 

 

 

I Kinda Want to be a Vet! By Pam Crooks

My husband and I are addicted to veterinary shows. Other than taking our pet dogs to the vet down the street for their yearly check-ups and vaccinations over the years, we’ve had very little interaction with the profession. Besides, living in the city makes the vets around here mostly small animal–cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.–anyway.

So our fascination with vets who treat horses, pull calves from cows, and pluck porcupine quills from inquisitive hunting dogs plunges us into a new world. We get to know the star veterinarian’s staff as if they were favorite characters in a sitcom. We see them get poopy and bloody. We witness surgeries that can be as intricate as one done on any human.

Kinda makes me want to do that, too. Pulling piglets and puppies from their mothers after difficult labors would be incredibly gratifying. Besides, those babies are so cute, right? Veterinarians make a real difference in animals’ lives and that of their owners. Of course, I’m too old to take on a new career like veterinary medicine, but sometimes, I think “What if…?”

Since I have to live vicariously, here are our top two favorite shows:


Heartland Docs DVM on Nat Geo Wild
I was instantly taken with this show as soon as I saw the first advertisement. The stars, Drs. Ben and Erin Schroeder have their clinic just a few hours away from where I live. http://www.cedarcountyvet.com They’re young and modern and tend to use more high-tech equipment like ultra-sound machines in the field when treating animals.

Ben and Erin are a loving married couple devoted to each other and their profession. It’s a given Erin will cry when an animal couldn’t be saved despite their best efforts. They’re teaching their two teenage sons to care and treat animals, too. They’re articulate, fun-loving, and so personable, you can’t help but like them immediately!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’ve just announced a third season–yee-haw!–and you can bet we’ll watch each one.

 

The Incredible Dr. Pol on Nat Geo Wild

This is the show that got us hooked on veterinary medicine. Dr. Jan Pol is in his 16th season with Nat Geo Wild, and he’s had over 20,000 patients in his career. Like many clinics, it’s a family run operation with his wife, Diane, heading up the office. Their adopted son, Charles, is credited with the idea of featuring his father on a show, and it was such a success, Charles ended up being part of the cast.

Dr. Pol is as old school as Drs. Ben and Erin Schroeder are modern. He still uses the old mercury-type of thermometer and his clinic is dated, cluttered, and could use a good sweeping sometimes. Ha! But at 77 years old, he is unflappable, common sense sharp, and his clients love him. He’s not above stripping down to his waist to treat the messiest of animals or clomping around mud-and-manure filled corrals to see to his patients. The man isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon, though admittedly, Charles is a big help in adding strength when pulling calves, or if nothing else, running back and forth to the car for needed supplies.

Dr. Pol is generous in donating his services at fair time. He’s a firm believer that kids need to learn responsibility toward animals at a young age, and it’s so enjoyable seeing him tutor the kids, doing their best to earn that coveted blue ribbon.

Space and time doesn’t allow me to mention two more of our favorite shows. But check them out. I think you’ll enjoy them as much as we do!

 

Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet, also on Nat Geo Wild.

Dr. Jeff, Rocky Mountain Vet on Animal Planet

Have you ever wished for a different profession?  Do you have talents that aren’t being used? Would you do what you’re doing all over again?

Let’s Chat!

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Castles, Llamas and Texas

 

Texas is known for our longhorn steers, prairie dogs, and oil wells along with ranches, bunk houses and the wide open prairie, but little did I know about our famous ShangriLlama Castle. We have a lot of homes, particularly in Galveston, that could be considered castles, but this one is different.

On the grounds of a majestic Irish castle in Royse City, Texas, 30 miles northeast of Dallas, you’ll meet charming royalty such as King Dalai Llama, the leader, along with Prince Barack O’Llama, Duke Como T. Llama, and Earl Bahama Llama. There are a total of seven male pedigree llamas on the 10-acre private ranch and wedding venue.

This most unusual business began when Sharon and Paul Brucato’s son, Tommy, became intrigued with the wooly creatures while visiting a zoo. I personally got acquainted with a llama ranch in California, but never thought about one being in Texas.

The owners are quoted as saying that they thought owning llamas would be fun and a bonding experience for their family. They trained with a rescue animal before buying their own purebred llamas. The ranch evolved from there because of the interest of neighbors and friends.

Since 2018, the Brucato family, including Tommy’s wife Jenni, have hosted llama-themed weddings, along with fun, fact-filled llama lessons and walks, where guests and llamas enjoy a serene stroll along the Enchanted Forest TraiI was born and raised here in Texas and never even imagined there being a majestic Irish castle in the state much less a llama ranch.

Do you have any experiences with llamas? And would you want to, if you had the chance?

To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, I will give you your choice of an eBook copy of my newest Kasota Springs romances or a Bath and Body Works gift certificate.

Dancing Outlaws

Dancing! Oh yes! I love it! I put dancing throughout my Outlaw Mail Order Brides series and it’s all the real-life outlaw gunslinger Clay Allison’s fault! They say he suffered a head wound during the Civil War and it left him with a terrible temper. Maybe so. His epitaph reads that he didn’t kill anyone that didn’t need it and it is a well-known fact that he put a lot of men six feet under.

But strangely, Clay loved to dance—a lot. He owned a ranch outside of Cimarron, New Mexico and always kept a violin player on his payroll.

I first put Clay Allison in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy as Houston Legend’s drover and my editor liked him so much she wanted me to give him his own book. I thought it best to make him fictional so I changed his last name to Colby. Book #1 of Outlaw Mail Order Brides—The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride—is about Clay Colby.

Clay and some of his friends are tired of running and want to settle down so they decide to carve a town from their hideout. Next came populating it so they send for mail order brides.

Since Clay has been writing a wanted woman in hiding, Tally Shannon, he asks her to marry him so she travels to Hope’s Crossing. She agrees.

Oddly, Clay makes sure one his fellow outlaws is a fiddle player and they have a dance each night after supper, waltzing over the uneven ground under the stars. And that’s how he and Tally get acquainted. It worked.

My town has the dancing-est outlaws you ever met. It keeps ’em out of trouble. (Psst, not really)

I’ve always loved to watch dancers, but I didn’t know how until around the age of 30. I was married and three kids underfoot when I took classes at the local college for ballroom dancing. I learned the foxtrot, tango, the waltz, and then the teacher threw in the two-step.

It opened up a whole new world and I loved it. The only problem was my husband didn’t dance and had no desire at all to learn so I was forced again to sit on the sidelines.

Occasionally one of male customers would ask me, but then we stopped going to those places altogether, and sadly, I lost what I’d learned.

I still love to watch dancing couples though. And I love the show Dancing With the Stars, living vicariously through them. Sometimes, I even get out of my chair and do the steps. You’d die laughing.

Dancing has been in our culture probably since the beginning of time. The earliest proof was found in 9,000 year old cave drawings. I’m astounded.

Some of the dances had such names as the Quadrille, the Minuet, the Polka, the Waltz, and many others. Rock and Roll brought many, many more dances like the Lindy Hop, the Twist, the Jitterbug, etc. This didn’t involve a partner so I jumped right in and loved twisting and gyrating and making a fool of myself.

Tell me the first person you ever danced with and the type of dance it was. I’m giving away The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride to three people who leave a comment.

My Mother Could Stretch…and Stretch…a Dime! by Pam Crooks

While reading my sister filly, Phyliss Miranda’s, blog last week on being a frugal housewife, I couldn’t help being thrown back into my childhood and remembering all the countless times my own mother had to be frugal while raising babies that kept coming almost every year.  (To read Phyliss’ blog, click “1800’s Frugal Frontier Housewife”.)

Of course, it’s common knowledge most women settling in the west in the 1800’s had a tough life providing meals and clothing for their families, especially if they were homesteaders living remotely. If they couldn’t sew, knit, cook, bake, butcher stock, tend gardens, and so on, their families suffered. Lazy wasn’t an option! Ditto for women living in barely-settled towns, often with only a single mercantile or two to buy groceries and meat, provided they had working husbands or weren’t widows living on meager savings.

And granted, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, most women lived an easier life while they stayed home with the children and their husbands worked. Many women didn’t drive yet, and even if they did, most likely did not have a second car in the household. Families were larger than they are today. Mothers didn’t have the privilege of running to the grocery store every time an ingredient was missing from her pantry. Grocery stores were small, simply stocked, probably located in the neighborhood and vastly different than the super-markets we have today.

My mother was the iconic mother of the time, just as I described above. Fortunately for us kids, she grew up on her family’s farm and was a great cook, seamstress, and a dynamo when it came to having a clean house.

We lived simply, just like the other families on our street. We didn’t know any better, but we always had three square meals a day.

Here are some of the things she cooked for us:

  • Bologna, often sliced and fried. Bought in big chubs wrapped in red paper, bologna filled our bellies for years. Sometimes, mom would grate the bologna, add a few ingredients, and call it ham salad.
  • Sliced hot dogs. She’d split them in half and fry. Probably a substitute for bologna. If she kept the hot dog whole, I don’t recall her using a hot dog bun until years later. We’d use a slice of bread instead. Hot dog buns were available since the early part of the century, but no doubt she considered the bun an extravagance.
  • Jonathan apples. I barely remember any other fruit in the house but them, bought by the bagful. It was her go-to-snack for us kids. I remember the Jonathans as mushy (and yes, I know they make wonderful pies and crisp!) but to this day, I won’t eat one.  Red Delicious was expensive and purchased only for special occasions, and there weren’t the varieties we have today.
  • Cream of Wheat. I never liked the grainy texture of Cream of Wheat or Coco Wheats, but it sure stuck to our ribs and made for a cheap breakfast. Growing up, I put oatmeal in the same category, but I do like oatmeal now, as long as it’s loaded with nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and milk, none of which, of course, WE had back then!
  • Mayonnaise sandwiches. Except she never bought mayo, but Miracle Whip. Occasionally, we’d have lunch meat (see bologna above), but I loved mayonnaise sandwiches, always on Wonder Bread. At school, we didn’t have cafeterias, chairs or tables to eat lunch.  We sat on the church parking lot, on hard concrete, and never thought twice about it.
  • Powdered milk. Oh, we hated that! She’d try to sneak it on us kids, but we always knew. She’d stretch the powder by using less, which resulted in watery looking milk. Occasionally, she’d mix real milk in, which I suppose helped, but us kids always knew.
  • Chicken fryers. She never bought chicken pieces, which were more expensive, so farm girl that she was, she’d cut up whole chickens herself.  I can’t even count the number of Sundays we had fried chicken for dinner.
  • Jell-O. Who among you didn’t have Jell-O made as salads with shredded carrots and chopped celery, fruit cocktail, or canned pears? 
  • “Eat bread with it.” One of her favorite strategies to stretch the main course.
  • Spaghetti sauce. She never used canned or fresh tomatoes, but used tomato paste and water with the perfect amount of Italian seasonings. My mother’s spaghetti and meatballs (or featherbones) were family favorites, and even my Italian grandmother would have to agree my mother’s sauce was delicious!
  • Velveeta cheese. We never had cheddar, colby, Provolone, or anything like that. Always Velveeta, which we loved. Very versatile and back then, much cheaper than it is today.
  • Graham crackers and leftover frosting. If she made a cake and there was extra frosting, into graham crackers it would go, and it was a favorite cookie of ours.  I made these many times myself, and now my daughters do, too.
  • Kool-Aid. I think sugar must’ve been fairly cheap back then, because we had a lot of Kool-Aid, the powder in a package kind. Never soda pop or even lemonade.
  • Wax paper. She would wrap our sandwiches for school lunches in a sheet of wax paper like a present. Later, wax paper came in sandwich sized sacks that you had to fold at the top. Plastic baggies didn’t come for years later, but even if they were available, she would’ve considered them extravagant.

 

 

Oh, I could go on and on.  I’m sure you have memories of how you or your mom was frugal decades ago, or even now. How did she save pennies? What was your favorite frugal food?

Let’s chat!