Mothers of Invention

Purchasing old magazines is yet another passion. Finding them in good order and minus the musty odor, these magazines are a colorful glimpse into women’s lives of earlier generations. Like a diary, the monthly magazines chronicled the details of daily life with recipes, advice, fiction, humor, diet and make-up tips, crafts, travel and fantasy.

The American Magazine, of which I have three issues from the Fifties, had a unique column titled Why don’t they? Readers were invited to submit “a need which no one as yet seems to
have filled. As incentive to send in your suggestion, the magazine paid $5.00 if yours was published.

In the February 1956 issue, Mrs. Ed Belvins wondered why someone didn’t “Perfect a small umbrella to attach to your camera for rainy-day picture taking?” It only took 50 years for Tom Knightlinger to wonder the same thing and in 2006 invent the Popabrella

Mrs. S.J. Althaus earned $5.00 with her suggestion that someone “Invent a device to hold your head in place, so it does not wobble from side to side, while you are asleep on a long journey in a bus, train or plane.” Twenty-one years later, Doris Sweeney and Mary Ellen Lee tired of their own heads bobbling and jolting them awake, and in 1971, received a patent for their invention, the Contoured Travel Pillow

Mrs. E. Penno wished fervently that someone “Invent a pillow that either absorbs the snorer’s snores or vibrates and awakens him!” Thirty-two years it took until this woman’s prayers were answered in 1988 by a trio of Japanese inventors and their vibrating snoring deterrent pillow

What’s so astonishing is how long it took for these obvious inventions to come about, especially the controured travel pillow. On occasion, haven’t we all wished “someone would invent…” as a solution to a predicament?

My most fervent beseeching was in 1980. I was mommy to a newborn and a 20-month old. The Snuggly baby carrier and folding umbrella stroller were the latest child gear, and we had one of each. Going out was easy as long as Daddy wore the baby and I pushed the toddler.
On my own, however, a baby strapped to my chest and a definant, almost two-year old breaking free of the umbrella’s straps and running into traffic, had me wishing for a contraption that would restrain both a baby and a toddler. To The American Magazine, I’d have submitted this need: “Why doesn’t someone build a dual kiddie carrier that’s half a pram and half a stroller?”

Twenty-three years later, Michael D. Williams must have answered his wife’s prayers and applied for a patent to protect his invention of a dual infant and child carrier in the shape of a stork.

This updated version is so colorful and beautifully designed – if only it came adult sized, so I

could give my big boyz a push around the block, as I would have so loved when they were my babies .

Those who submitted “a need” to The American Home column would today be in their eighties. Should Mrs. Althaus still be around, I can imagine her telling everyone that the u-shaped travel neck pillow was her idea.
Then there is the idea that would have The Greatest Generation scratching their collective good sense.

Tie One On…an apron, of course!

A Melting Pleasure

I’m not a snow person, which explains why one of my happiest days was our relocation twenty-nine years ago from a home in the Colorado mountains to the High Plains. More than a change in altitude and attitude, the winter weather “east” is more like Arizona’s than Aspen – sunny with rarely a hint of snow.

Living where the average yearly moisture amounts to 13″, I greet snow flakes like a visit from Elvis. A hard core fan, last night’s snow dump of several inches was akin to a Hunk a Burnin’ Love sighting.

Experience has taught me that when it snows out here, I need to act fast or miss out on snow ice cream – the only thing about snow that I like.

Snow ice cream is such a deliciously simple concoction, it would make sense it was the brainstorm of a mom stuck in the house with young children and a large dog as winter raged on and on. Surprise (!), this slushy confection was invented by the Chinese over 3,000 years ago as a royal treat for the emperors.

Using snow and ice brought down from the mountains, dynasty cooks mixed in fruit, wine and honey. A basic recipe I’ve eaten since childhood is a lot simpler, especially the snow-gathering part.

How to Make Snow Ice Cream: Brush aside the top layer of snow and fill a bowl.

Stir together snow, sugar, vanilla extract and milk. For a creamier, richer taste, replace the sugar and milk with sweetened condensed milk. A squirt of chocolate sauce or maraschino cherry are festive touches.

The admonition “only eat of the second snow fall” is not without its point, but where a second snow isn’t likely, the only caution to which I cater is Don’t eat yellow snow.


Tie One On…an apron, of course!