My Heroine

March #SOL16 Day 13

sol[1]I was at my mom’s this morning and this book on her shelf caught my eye.  Tattered and yellowed, this flimsy paperback was calling out to me, “The New Practical Home Repair For Women.”

“I’ve got to take this – I’ll return it later”, I said.

I picked it up and the middle section fell to the floor.  This book is old.  Original publish date; 1966 and the second edition came along in 1972.  Mr. Bruce Cassiday, author of the book,  was asked in the Preface “If women have enough mechanical aptitude, whey aren’t there more women famous in the field of construction and building?”  He replied, “Perhaps because they never tried.”

Mr. Bruce Cassiday – I salute you.

I flipped the book over to find many great reviews. The people at Modern Bride said, “It really explains things!” Ha!  The word really was italicized in this review.  They really meant it!

My mind immediately went to the year this book hit the stores.  Mini skirts were all the rage, color T.V.’s were just becoming popular and we were deep into the  Vietnam War. Women were embarking on a freer, more liberal lifestyle.  They were wearing thigh bearing skirts.  Did they really care about fixing leaky pipes or repairing a sagging floor? Were they buying this book?

In the 1960’s women could potentially be fired from their job for being pregnant, couldn’t apply for a credit card and were not allowed to run in the Boston Marathon!  Mr. Bruce Cassiday, a progressive man for his time, seemed to believe that women had a brain.  He dedicated this entire “how-to” book to his wife, calling her his “Heroine”.  Mrs. Bruce Cassiday also wrote the Foreward, which seemed to be a strong message from the author; women can read and they can fix things (if they read this book)!

As I sit here with this book in my lap, I am picturing my mom, at the time a 35 year old woman with two children and a husband who was rarely home.  Purchasing this book was probably a necessity. It seems like things were breaking in our house all the time.

When the second edition came out 6 years later my mom would be divorced and working a full time job trying to provide for her 17 and 10 year old daughters.  She went to college, but never graduated.  She married instead.  So, her skills in the workplace were limited.

Hamburger Helper was our “go-to” meal, because Lord knows we needed a little help.  The unpaid bills were piling up, while the child support checks were not.  The gas (heat) was shut off.  The electricity was shut off.  My flute was repossessed.  It was a scary thing to go go through as a kid.  But, when I reflect back on my childhood all I have are happy memories.  My mom made sure of that.

We had a beloved pet dog who eventually had puppies.  I was in the band.  I was a swimmer.  I read books.   We went to the library every Sunday.  I idolized Nancy Drew.  I had a detective journal (writers notebook!) just like hers in which I recorded neighborhood happenings. I had close friends whose parents looked after me.  I was loved and I always knew everything was going to be alright.  Thanks to my Heroine.  My mom.

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14 thoughts on “My Heroine

  1. Carrie, love this slice! Parts of it remind me of my childhood as well – the part about mom being divorced with two young children, living on ADC (Aid to Dependent Children), no child support coming in, and then she remarried. I am sure she remarried out of necessity. Like you I always remember those early days when it was only the three of us as the most happy. A tribute to moms who made the best out of not so great situations!

  2. Carrie, I’m in love with this Slice. I love how you described the details of the book. I love the bit about ‘because they never tried.’ But mostly, I think I love this Slice because it reminds me so much of my own childhood. When I an adult – like in my late twenties – one of my sisters said something about us being poor when we were growing up and how much my mom struggled to make ends meet. I was completely taken aback. “We were poor??” I said in disbelief. I honestly never knew. I had everything I could ever want – a home, good friends, a mom who played with me, a sister I could make believe with… I had such a magical childhood. I mean, we didn’t have Barbies… but who needs Barbies?

    So that’s why I love this Slice. You looked at that book and your writing took you – and then me – back to a wonderful place where our moms are the heroines.

  3. What a great slice! I got a glimpse of life in the 60s. I got a glimpse of why your mom rocks! I got to see how a book sparked these reflections. I especially like the ending – you reflect on your wonderful childhood. I especially like that a book pushed all your reflections! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster reading this. First, anger at the question Mr. Cassiday was asked then relief at his answer, then the admiration of your mother and how happy you were. My daughter just did a project on her favorite hero or heroine and she chose my mother as her heroine. I was thrilled because I feel the same way!

  5. Your reflection rang so true. It was, just as you say, a time of great upheaval in the 60s. I remember my mom got a job when I was in 5th grade, not because she had to, but because she WANTED to. She was the first woman trained in our school district to operate a huge “computer” with the “data punch” cards to take attendance. She was very proud of learning the cutting edge technology – she also had had only one semester of college. But, hey now, 1966 isn’t THAT old!

  6. I have a million things floating through my mind, but that can be conveyed easily, It made me think, and remember, and respect…..it made me appreciate the true meaning of a heroine.

  7. I absolutely love this piece, Carrie. You have created an extraordinary life-long friendship with your mother and have been more generous and loving than anyone I can imagine.

  8. ” I was loved and I always knew everything was going to be alright”. That’s all that matters to a child, isn’t it? Anyone who reads this can’t help but take a walk down memory lane. That’s what I just did.Thank you for that.

  9. Love this piece!!!! I like the little infusion of humor…Hamburger Helper…because you needed help. So funny! I enjoyed how the book took your mind to the time period and then how you related it to your family and most of all your mom who held everything together like glue, despite the roadblocks. Such fond memories you have from your childhood. Apparently you learned a ton from your mom – not so much what what she said – but her actions. What a mom!

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