Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

School Lunches from the 1950s Housewife

(Illustration by Arthur Sarnoff)

Providing a hearty, healthy, nutritious lunch in a clean, sanitary lunch box or other container for both hubby and the kids was a housewife’s daily duty in the 1950s. The guidelines included the following:

  1. “It should be abundant in amount for a hungry, healthy individual. A little too much is better than too little.”
  2. “It should be chosen with regard to nutritive needs of the individual, and in relation to the whole day’s food.”
  3. “It should be clean, appetizing, wholesome, and attractive.”

Food Selection

Solids and liquids were both included in the lunch plan. Guidelines urged housewives to choose at least one item from each of the following groups:

Milk — in food, such as pudding, or drink.

Bread — whole grain used in sandwiches.

Meat, Cheese, Eggs, or Fish — used in sandwich fillings, salads, or main dishes. Left over meat loaf, pot roast, and other food items were often used in sandwiches in the 1950s.

Fruit — whole or diced in salads or desserts.

Vegetables — used in sandwich fillings, salads, main dishes, or whole. Crisp, raw vegetables preferred.

Surprise – cookies, nuts, raisins, or other special treat.

What Season is it?

~ In winter, include something hot, such as soup, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in a thermos.

~ In summer, include cool, refreshing items such as lemonade, fruit juice, iced tea, or iced coffee in a thermos.

Tips

*Remember to include utensils, napkins, and straws.*

*Provide spicier, more flavorful food for hubby and milder but flavorful food for the kids.*

*The goal in the 1950s was to keep packed lunches appetizing, varied, and balanced nutritionally.

Menus

Cream of tomato soup

Ham sandwich with mustard and lettuce

Celery sticks and olives

Fresh pear

Cookies

~

Cheese sandwich with ketchup and lettuce

Tossed vegetable salad and dressing

Pickles

Whole orange

Cake

Hot cocoa

~

(The first lunch box set was produced by the Aladdin Company in 1950 and featured Hopalong Cassidy.)

The National School Lunch Act, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946, provides school lunches in public schools for a fee or for free. I don’t know nowadays how many kids still bring their lunches to school. I remember kids getting teased when they reached a certain age who still brought their lunches to school. My favorite part of lunch in school was the chocolate milk that came with the cafeteria lunch. And, in high school, we used to sneak off campus and hit the local Taco Bell. Many adults eat in the company cafeteria, if one is provided, or order fast food. But some adults still bring their lunches to work.

~

Information retrieved from The American Woman’s Cook Book, 1952 and the Internet.

Dawn Pisturino

September 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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“Melissa and the Angels” on Spillwords

I’m pleased and proud to announce that my poem, “Melissa and the Angels,” has been published today on Spillwords. I want to thank Dagmara K. and her wonderful staff for publishing it. I chose to use an unusual rhyming pattern and some words that are difficult to rhyme. It was these difficult words that shaped the story.

Melissa and the Angels

by Dawn Pisturino

Melissa, in a tattered dress,
Came slowly down the lane,
A wicker basket on her arm,
Fresh eggs and butter from the farm,
Her tresses in a tangled mess,
Barefoot, and limping with the pain. . .

Please visit Spillwords here http://www.spillwords.com/melissa-and-the-angels/ to read the rest of the poem. If you like it, please like it on both Spillwords (the little heart at the top of the post) and my blog. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your visits and your support.

A big THANK YOU! from the bottom of my heart.

Dawn Pisturino

August 22, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Hell on Wheels

(Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

Hello! My name is Isis.

Don’t let my sweet, innocent little face fool you. Although I let my human mommy hold me on her lap and cuddle me and kiss me on the face, I’m the Queen of the Jungle. Whenever the OTHER cat comes into the living-room, I want to rip her ears off. A couple of weeks ago, I tried. My human mommy got mad at me, but she doesn’t understand. There can only be one Top Cat, and that’s me. My human mommy strokes my fur and tells me to be a good little girl. I try, Mommy, I really try! You know how I always stop in my tracks and listen to you when you scold me, but I just can’t help myself. I just have to attack my housemate cat, whether you like it or not.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

I love you, Mommy.

Isis

~

Dawn Pisturino

June 24, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Cheap Wine, Dried Salame, and YOU

 My husband was one of those “bad boys” that girls fall in love with and parents deplore. With his black jacket and black leather cap, he looked like a Sicilian gangster out on a hit.

His pent-up anger spilled out of him in dangerous ways. For example, he mapped out a plan whereby every bank in the city of San Francisco could be robbed on the same day.

His dark nature captivated me, and soon, I was hooked for life.

We fought like cats and dogs, but oh, the fun we had! We went treasure hunting in crazy, out-of-the-way places, finding cold hard cash lying in the sand in a cave. We drove up and down the Pacific Coast Highway in his green Fiat X-19, enjoying the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair. We hiked through the redwoods on Mt. Tamalpais and watched the ocean tides under a full moon at Ocean Beach.

One day, singing at the top of his lungs, my husband suddenly stripped down and drove naked with the top of his car open along the 92 over to Half Moon Bay. Thrilled and excited, I watched for the cops, laughing all the way.

On cool, foggy nights, we slipped away into the darkness and made love on sandy beaches. On warm afternoons, we packed a picnic snack: a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco and a link of dried salame. Sun, warmth, ocean air, sand, green grass, and a hazy glow of love and darkness and friendship between us.

After our daughter was born, we included her in our crazy life. Archery at the range on King’s Mountain, afternoon tea at Agatha’s, strolling the malls, tramping through the sand at Half Moon Bay, riding the carousel at the San Francisco Zoo, flying kites down on the Marina.

Those days are over now. Our daughter is grown, and we’re not as skinny as we used to be. We live in the desert in Arizona, work, walk the dog, watch TV, and complain about the heat, wind, and dust. But whenever I go back to California, I relive those glory days of sunshine and salt air. Whenever I spot a bottle of Riunite or a link of dried salame at the grocery store, I remember foggy nights and making love in the sand.

So let me fill my plastic cup with cheap red wine, arrange slices of salame and cheese on a paper plate, and offer this toast to the man I love:

I LOVE YOU, DEAR HEART, MY LOVER, MY BEST FRIEND, MY MENTOR, MY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, MY DARK KNIGHT — AND I ALWAYS WILL.

Happy Father’s Day!

(Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2022 in the USA)

Dawn Pisturino

June 16, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Butterfly, Butterfly – A Poem

(Monarch butterflies)



by Dawn Pisturino

For my daughter, Ariel

Butterfly, Butterfly,

Dappled with red,

Night-time is coming,

Fly home to your bed!

The white moon is rising,

He hasn’t a care;

The bright stars are shining,

Reflecting him there.

Oh, Butterfly, Butterfly,

What shall you do?

If darkness enfolds you,

How will you get through?

Fly home on a moonbeam,

Guided by stars,

Or maybe such planets

As Venus and Mars?

Or, drifting along on a

Sweet summer breeze,

You’ll land where you want

And do as you please?

Float down on a flower,

The sweet nectar there,

Drawing you inward

And filling the air?

You’ll suck up your supper,

Then lay down to sleep,

Your wings folded neatly,

Their beauty to keep.

And when, in the morning,

You suddenly wake,

The sun will be rising,

A new day will break.

Then, Butterfly, Butterfly,

Fly away home!

Or follow your instincts

To wander and roam.

But come again – do! –

If you happen this way,

Night-time or daytime

Or any old day!

February 8, 1986

This poem was set to music by composer and film maker Barry Gremillion and recorded in October 2013 by Barry Gremillion and Ariel Pisturino. It was uploaded onto SoundCloud.

Thanks, Ariel and Barry!

(CD cover)

Dawn Pisturino

June 6, 2022

Copyright 1986-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.



D-Day: An incredible military campaign that required extensive planning and mutual cooperation between allied countries. Never forget – “Freedom is not free.”





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Baby Formula from the 1950s Housewife

I was in the beauty salon getting my hair cut yesterday, and all the ladies were on fire about the current national shortage of baby formula. This shortage has been going on for a while but recently worsened with the recall of Similac baby formula products a few months ago. The news media has been reporting on the shortage, otherwise, unless you have babies or grand-babies, you probably wouldn’t know anything about it.

Similac PM 60/40 Lot# 27032K80 was voluntarily recalled by Abbott Laboratories after customer complaints about infants becoming infected with Salmonella (Cronobacter sakazakii) and after one infant died.

My husband reminded me that when the CEO of a baby formula company in China was indicted for producing bad batches of baby formula in 2008 that poisoned 300,000 Chinese infants and killed six, he was executed by the Chinese Communist Party. The formula contained melamine, a toxic substance that was used to increase protein levels.

And I clearly remember the complaints against Nestle in the 1970s when the company urged third world women, particularly in Africa, to stop breast-feeding and use their baby formula products. This turned into a huge scandal which the company is still trying to live down.

Although commercial baby formula products have been around since the 1800s, breast-feeding is still considered by pediatricians to provide the best nutrition for infants. Breast-feeding popularity has gone through phases, however. Post-World War II, breast-feeding lost some of its attraction for middle-class housewives, and more women were in the workforce, so homemade baby formulas became the norm. This held true into the 1960s, when more advanced baby formulas came onto the market. In the 1970s, women’s groups demanded a return to breast-feeding as the more desirable source of nutrition for infants. Today, breast-feeding and formula use go hand-in-hand. Some women are unable to produce enough milk naturally and must supplement with formula. Some babies have special digestive problems or allergies and require special formulas.

**Some women, frustrated with the shortage of commercial baby formula, are making their own based on a 1950s recipe that was the standard for that time. Here’s the recipe, but I am not recommending that anybody use it. All mothers should check with their pediatricians before using it. The formula may not contain all the nutritional requirements that babies need. Infants have a sensitive digestive tract and may develop digestive issues or be allergic.**

In the 1950s, a housewife would make enough for the entire day (24 ounces) and divide it into 6 sterilized baby bottles (4 ounces each). She would refrigerate all bottles until needed.

1950s Standard Baby Formula

13 ounces evaporated milk

20 ounces water

2 tablespoons Karo corn syrup

Heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.

The 1950s doctor would prescribe liquid vitamins and iron for the baby to ensure that he or she was getting the proper nutrition. **Consult your pediatrician before giving vitamins and iron to your infant.**

Feeding Schedule

The normal schedule was to feed the baby every 4 hours, at 6 am, 10 am, 2 pm, 6 pm, 10 pm, and 2 am. I don’t know when Mom got to sleep! But the breast-feeding schedule can be even more rigorous, with baby getting fed every 2 to 4 hours.

The evaporated milk in the formula contained Vitamin D to prevent rickets. To prevent scurvy, baby was started on a solution of orange juice at 3 weeks, with the typical ratio being 1 tablespoon orange juice to 1 tablespoon water. Baby received this solution at least once a day. **(Please consult with your pediatrician before giving your infant juices and solids. The current recommendation is to wait until a baby is one year old before giving him or her orange juice.)** In addition, mom was expected to offer baby boiled, cooled water in-between feedings to prevent dehydration.

A typical baby schedule in the 1950s:

The term “hold out” is confusing, but it apparently means to hold the baby out to facilitate with passing urine, feces, and gas. Fresh air and sunshine were important components of the baby’s day, something which still holds true now. Don’t forget the sunscreen, sun hat, and clothing! I don’t know if anybody puts their baby outside to sleep anymore. I would certainly suggest that mom or another adult stay with the baby, if they do.

The importance of a schedule is to teach kids regular habits, discipline, and responsibility, but later parenting methods called for a looser lifestyle for both baby and parents. Of course, babies are all individuals with their own likes and dislikes. Some babies willingly go along with a schedule, while others don’t. And that’s okay!

Dawn Pisturino

May 12, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

**REMEMBER TO CONSULT WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN BEFORE CHANGING YOUR INFANT’S FORMULA, USING HOMEMADE FORMULA, AND CHANGING THE FOOD INTRODUCTION SCHEDULE (WHAT TYPES OF FOODS AN INFANT SHOULD EAT AT WHAT AGE). THE BABY’S DIGESTIVE TRACT CANNOT TOLERATE SOME FOODS AT AN EARLY AGE OR MAY DEVELOP ALLERGIES.**

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Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The next part of the assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to write a children’s story based on the child I had observed. (See previous post.)

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

by Dawn Pisturino

I wasn’t surprised when Jenny told me that her parents are getting a divorce. It seems like every kid I know comes from a broken home. Jenny’s parents fight a lot, and I’ve seen her break down and cry in the girls’ restroom because of it. Don’t parents understand how unhappy they make their kids?

She hopes they’ll make it up and stay together, and I hope they do, too. Jenny is a nice girl with a bright future, and I hate to see her so unhappy.

Why do families have to split up? Why can’t they just love each other and stay together?

My Aunt Lucy and Uncle Tommy got a divorce. I never see Uncle Tommy anymore. He moved to the East Coast and got a new job. Aunt Lucy cried a lot, and my cousin Jeremy got into trouble for stealing money from the neighbor next door. After his father left, he was angry for a long time. I haven’t seen him since last Christmas, but Mom told me that he ran away from home one night and got beat up by a local gang. I’m afraid that someday something really bad will happen to him, and I’ll never see him again.

I love my father, and if he ever left, I think I would die. Just the thought makes me want to cry.

It scared me when my little brother got real sick. His face was red, and his skin was hot, and he slept a lot. Mom rushed him to the emergency room, and he had to stay in the hospital until he got better. I didn’t see Mom for a few days because she stayed in the hospital with him.

Dad and I took care of each other, though. We made dinner together every night, and one night, we went out for pizza. I told him all about my classes in school, the new girl who moved in down the street, and the cute boy I met at the library. I was embarrassed to talk about the cute boy, but Dad just laughed and didn’t tease me at all. I really loved him for that.

~

Sunday, May 8, 2022, is Mother’s Day. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 6, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Child Observation Notes: “Caitlin I”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to find a child that I did not personally know, observe the child, and to take notes. Trying not to look like some kind of pervert, I sat in the children’s section at Barnes & Noble, chose a little girl who was about 12 years old, and took notes on her appearance, body language, behavior, interactions with others, and anything else that seemed important.

Child Observation Notes

by Dawn Pisturino

There was nothing extraordinary about the young girl sitting on the carpeted floor with her knees bent, an open storybook in her lap. She looked like a typical American teenage girl with her slinky blond hair swept back into a high ponytail, a short-sleeved green tee clinging tightly to small, firm breasts, and white sneakers protruding from the legs of crisp blue jeans.

A small boy with sandy hair who looked about three years old sat on the floor to her right, eagerly listening to the story she was reading. A girl about five years old with light brown curls stood impatiently to her left, energetically bouncing up and down with one finger in her mouth as the girl turned the pages of the book.

The girl, who could have been named Caitlin, smiled brightly as she read to her younger brother and sister. An aura of simple goodness radiated like the points of a shiny white star from her smooth, unblemished face. Her small, impish nose wrinkled up with laughter, and her hazel eyes sparkled with mischief as she pointed her finger at a silly picture. She held up the book so both siblings could get a clearer view.

When the younger boy and girl grew tired of the book, they scampered off. Their mother turned from her conversation with the sales clerk and said something sharp, but Caitlin answered lightly, ” Don’t worry, I’ll take care of them. Nothing will happen.” She followed them around the colorful racks of children’s books, unhurried and untroubled, showing no signs of resentment or frustration at being held responsible for her younger brother and sister.

She was slim and light on her feet, her posture fully erect. She could have been a young dancer or gymnast. With graceful movements, she picked up her younger brother and whirled him around in the air, making him squeal with delight, while his curly-headed sister danced around and begged for a turn.

It was a touching glimpse of family bonding and a rare reminder that happy families do, indeed, exist.

~

The next part of the assignment was to write a short story based on this profile, which I will present in the next post.

Thanks for reading! Writing for children can be fun and rewarding.

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 5, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Jennifer’s Jar – A Short Story

(Photo from The Cary Company, http://www.thecarycompany.com)

Jennifer’s Jar

by Dawn Pisturino

On the morning of her tenth birthday, Jennifer received the strangest gift she had ever seen – a large glass jar.

It looks like a mayonnaise jar, Jennifer thought. But why did someone – or something – send it to her?

When she unscrewed the lid and peered inside, she saw nothing at all. Sniffing it produced no odor. The inside of the jar was perfectly dry. She shook it, rolled it, and turned it upside-down. Nothing happened.

All in all, it was an ordinary glass jar with no label on the front or printing on the lid. So, she decided to use it.

“I’ll fill it with water and add blue food coloring,” Jennifer said. “Some plastic fish would look nice. I’ll make an aquarium!”

But when she tried to pour water into the jar, the water wouldn’t go in! It spilled all over the countertop. She used a whole roll of paper towels cleaning it up. And the jar was still empty.

“I’ll fill it with marbles,” Jennifer decided.

She found her brother’s big bag of marbles and tried to pour them into the jar. But the marbles wouldn’t go in! They scattered all over the kitchen floor. It took twenty minutes to find all those marbles and refill the marble bag. And the jar was still empty.

“Oh, well,” Jennifer sighed. “Bobby would probably be mad anyway.”

Sand! How about sand?

For Christmas, Jennifer had received a craft kit filled with different types of colored sand. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to use it.

Using one of her mother’s kitchen funnels, she tried to pour pink sand into the jar. But the sand wouldn’t go in! It spilled, like pink sugar, all over the countertop. She cleaned it up with a wet dishcloth. And the jar was still empty.

Frustrated, Jennifer threw the dishcloth into the sink. “What am I going to do with an empty glass jar that won’t fill? I may as well throw it away.”

She tossed it into the trashcan, but lo and behold, here it came, bouncing out of the trashcan and into her hands again!

Terrified, Jennifer threw the jar onto the floor, smashing it into a million pieces.

A loud belching noise filled the air, and a small cloud of stinky black smoke rose up from the pieces of glass. “Ugh! Smells like a big fart!” Jennifer cried, pinching her nose. “Smells like Sissy’s poopy diapers! No wonder the jar wouldn’t fill!” As the cloud rose, it grew larger and larger until it was nearly as big as Jennifer herself.

“I’m out of here!” Jennifer yelled as she ran for the front door. But the big, stinky, black cloud followed her. She raced into the front yard, where a gust of wind caught the big, black cloud and spirited it away.

Relieved, Jennifer returned to the kitchen just in time to hear her mother say, “Jennifer, you’re in big trouble this time!”

Dawn Pisturino

2012; May 4, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

33 Comments »

The Zen of Cats

(from Pinterest)

February 20, 2009: When our fourteen-year-old Siamese-calico cat was peeing on the rug and having occasional bowel movements in dark corners, my husband and I couldn’t wait until she died. Peace at last, we thought. No more litter boxes, no more cat whining, no more scrubbing the carpet. But as the time drew nearer, she seemed to sense that her days were winding down. She suddenly became very affectionate and wanted to sit on my lap for hours at a time. She wanted to be petted and cuddled and to stay near me all the time. She laid with my husband on the couch, hung out with him in the computer room, and slept on top of us at night, even in the heat of summer. But she was losing weight and going downhill fast. I held her in my lap and cried, finally realizing that we were going to lose her one of these days. In spite of her annoying, constant meowing and soiling the carpet, no matter what I did to stop it, I was going to miss her.

It all happened very fast. One day, she could barely walk, and she cried when she tried to stand up. She was sleeping more and more. I didn’t want to accept it, but we finally had to make a difficult decision.

We took her to the vet to have her put down. I held her in a towel in my arms, crying my eyes out. The vet was extremely busy, and it was obviously an inconvenient time for her, but she patiently explained the procedure, agreeing that it was probably the best thing to do. We stayed with our cat throughout the whole procedure, telling her how much we loved her. I hope she understood from the tone of our voices that we truly cared about her. I had lost my temper so many times when she soiled the carpet, I wanted to make sure she knew that we loved her, in spite of the problems between us.

Instead of earning our freedom from litter boxes and gaining peace of mind, we sat in front of the TV set listening for the cat. The house was just too darned quiet. Something had died inside of us, and life seemed very dull. We suddenly realized just how important she was and how much she had dominated our life for the last fourteen years.

After a couple of months, we happened to take our dog to the vet and fell in love with every cat and kitten we saw. Was it time to take the plunge and get another cat? We discussed it thoroughly and ran into the vet’s the next day to adopt an adorable tortoise shell kitten who was obviously the runt of the litter. She was in a cage with a larger black male kitten, and they were cuddled up together like the best of friends. We didn’t have the heart to part them, so we took both kittens.

Were we crazy? We started out with no cats and ended up with two kittens! After a few days, we were in love. How did we ever think we could live without a cat — let alone, two?

After a hard day at work, my favorite way to relieve stress is to curl up in the easy chair with one or two kittens on my lap. My stress just melts away.

Our cats are loving, sweet, funny, and unpredictable. They bring life into the house. And yes, we still have to clean out the litter box. But somehow, we don’t seem to mind so much.

April 26, 2022: After 12 years, we finally had to put our black cat down. He was dying of liver cancer. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. He was my baby, my special boy, my therapy cat. I thought I was going to die, it was so painful. Even though it’s been a year now, I still cry when I think of him. The interesting thing is that our little tortoise shell cat, who has been hell on wheels, has taken his place in so many ways! She now lets me cuddle her, something she never would allow before. We’ve grown very close. We also have an older cat who is attached to my husband. She always viewed me as competition for my husband’s affection. But, since my little black cat has been gone, she has become much more loving and friendly and sits near me in the computer room and watches me while I’m using the computer. She’s 16 years old, and I always thought she would be the first one to go. But life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
February 20, 2009; April 26, 2022

Copyright 2009-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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