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Celebrity Interview

February 28, 2014 — 2 Comments

Hey, everybody! Just because it’s Friday, and just because everybody’s worn slick by Winter 2013-14 (and there’s more wintry weather in the forecast), and just because we like you guys…

Today’s post is a Celebrity Interview!

But who?

One of the royals, perhaps?

kate middleton

A star of stage or screen?

tom hanksanne hathaway

An outstanding professional athlete?

lebron james

Or maybe someone off the Billboard charts?


Nope. None of the above.

We were fortunate enough to engage someone much more relevant to you, the faithful readership of Zero to Sixty in Five!

Today’s Celebrity Interview is with that Star of the PTA Stage, the Queen of Loveliness, the Slam Dunk Winner of the Oatmeal Brigade, and the “author” of the Author!

None other than…

[drum roll…]

Mary Anne!

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When we contacted the mother of Zero to Sixty’s Blogsmith in Residence regarding an interview, she graciously agreed to answer our questions. She wasn’t sure she’d remember all that much, but would give it her best shot. Any concern that she wouldn’t remember enough to provide a good interview was unfounded: she waxed eloquent on topics across a spectrum.

So, without further ado…

ZTSIF: It must have been a challenge to get a family of seven off to work and school. What was your typical morning routine?

Mary Anne: Well, you get up — when you don’t want to. (Laughs). I’ve never been a “it’s-fun-to-get-up” kind of person. But once my feet hit the floor, I was awake. I’m just glad I had kids before snooze buttons on alarm clocks!

Then I probably headed downstairs to make coffee and — this was before microwaves — get some water on the stove for a pot of oatmeal. Then I would begin waking kids. Some were easy to wake up, some weren’t. I remember you as being easy to wake, right?

ZTSIF: I think so. Until high school.

Mary Anne: The kids didn’t eat breakfast all at the same time because time in the bathroom was staggered. I can’t remember what I fixed on school days other than oatmeal. If I had eggs, I usually scrambled them. And toast. I served biscuits mostly at dinner. You know, the big deal was eating dinner together.

ZTSIF: How did you learn about school cancellations on snow days?

Mary Anne: I don’t really remember. Did we have any snow days? Do you remember any?

ZTSIF: No, not really.

Mary Anne: I’m not sure they cancelled school very often because of snow. You know, people didn’t just walk into their attached garages and get in a car and never have to walk in the snow. Everyone had galoshes and you were expected to get out in it and walk. But I’m thinking there must have been some snow days. We probably listened to the radio for cancellations.

ZTSIF: October 2013’s post “Crime and Punishment” makes a reference to the popular child rearing guide, Dr. Benjamin Spock’s “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care”. What was your reaction to Dr. Spock’s advice? Did your pediatrician recommend the book?

Mary Anne: No, our doctor didn’t recommend it. I don’t think I ever read the whole book, probably only excerpts in magazines. But I didn’t like it. He didn’t believe in disciplining children, and I always believed children should be disciplined.

I always enjoyed being a mommy. There were just so many things to do with children. You could study dinosaurs together (even though I didn’t really like dinosaurs all that much) to help your child do well on a school project. Or you could turn an orange crate on its end and find enough empty food containers to set up a little grocery store. Or you could sit everyone around the table and give each of them a needle with a different color thread and have them sew “X”es on the toes of their socks so they could be sorted easily when the laundry was done. There was always something to do together. Remember the winter party decorations when we put the pipe cleaner figurines on top of the little mirror “lake” and sprinkled fake snow all around it on the table?

Years later, when I was working outside the home, it would always make me feel sad when I heard women come in to work and say, “I’m so glad it’s Monday so I can get away from the kids for a while.”

ZTSIF: Do you remember the incident with the Brach’s candy display and making a certain young shoplifter go back into the store and return the candies?

Mary Anne: Vaguely. I knew that it needed to be a lesson. I’m glad you learned from it. That’s not anything you want to fool around with.

ZTSIF: The post “The Porch, Then and Now” (October 2013) describes the front porch on your home in Indianapolis. Talk to us about front porches.

Mary Anne: Before air conditioning, people sat on their front porches. If you had a spare moment, you headed for the porch. You got to know your neighbors, you said hello to people who passed by — it was just friendlier.

It was air conditioning that made the difference — everybody went inside. People started using decks — more for picnics and parties, maybe. I think people probably did more relaxing on porches than they do now on decks.

ZTSIF: Tell us about the accident to the porch.

Mary Anne: Two young guys — high school age — completely lost control of their car and ran it right up into the yard and into the corner of the brick porch. Your dad and brothers were gone — together, I think. It was a spring or summer mid-afternoon and you had just been outside playing about a half hour earlier. You could have really been hurt, and I was maybe rattled for a couple of days, but not too long. Life goes on. Fear didn’t grip people like it does today.

ZTSIF: Zero to Sixty in Five has portrayed you as someone who loved dressing nicely and accessorizing. Do you remember the orange corduroy dress mentioned in “The Queen and the Groupie” (September 2013)?

Mary Anne: Yes. I liked it. I can’t remember where I got it — your dad might have bought it for me. I always felt sharp in it. Which is funny, because I don’t really like orange. Which makes me think your dad probably did get it. A few years later I went to apply for a job, and I wore it. For some reason a photo was taken, either before I got the job or after, and I’m wearing that dress in it. I could probably find that picture.

Your dad also bought me a black and white plaid taffeta hostess gown. It was really meant for a woman entertaining in finer surroundings than we had, but he always enjoyed me looking good. Even when I was in my 70’s, he’d look at catalogs and pick out pretty things for me. He really enjoyed doing it.

ZTSIF: What were your thoughts while washing, combing, curling, or braiding your daughter’s hair?

Mary Anne: I know the reasons I did it: I wanted you to look cute; plus you were an extension of me, and our family, and I wanted you to look nice. But what I was thinking about while I was doing it? (Laughs.) Probably what I was going to do next! Or wondering what your younger sister might be getting into while we were doing that! There was always a lot going on in a house with that many kids.

ZTSIF: Well, it’s been a delightful interview. The management and staff at Zero to Sixty in Five thanks you for your willingness to share your reminiscences with our readership and we wish you a very pleasant evening.

(G’night, Mom!)


The porch, then and now

October 28, 2013 — 1 Comment

It extended across the entire front of the grey frame craftsman style duplex that I grew up in. Only three items sat on it: a white glider with thick cushions covered in a dark green and white print, a square metal milk box that would magically spawn half gallon bottles of Borden milk overnight, and a sturdy recycled rubber welcome mat. The porch was where I hung out for at least eight months out of the year, spending countless hours doing all kinds of kid stuff. I loved that brick and concrete porch.


Reading a comic book, with a stack of library books waiting on the glider arm.

It was a de facto, open air play room where we staged Monopoly marathons, battled each other in War, devoured the latest comic books (the “Archies” were my favorite – I coveted Veronica’s hair), vied to outscore one another at jacks, crammed our mouths with Bazooka Joe bubble gum to blow the ultimate bubble, split Hostess Twinkies between us (and yes, we scooped the cream out with our fingers), and a host of other sedentary pastimes. Boisterous activities involving running, jumping, throwing things, catching things, or riding things were relegated to  locations away from the house – and out of Mom’s earshot.

During the Dog Days of summer the porch served as a retreat from the brunt of the noonday sun. But its deep eaves also created a fine shelter from which to observe fat summer raindrops as they danced on the sidewalk and street. The comfy glider beckoned me to settle in with a good book, or a tablet and pencil to draw pictures, or dolls to dress and undress and dress again, or pocket knives for whittling. It was where we would examine rocks, bottle caps, old coins, supersonic code rings from the Cheerios box, grasshoppers, small toads, and other fascinating things that one could count on the boys to produce from their jeans pockets. (They told me they couldn’t understand how in the world I got along without pockets in so many of the outfits I wore…)

It also served as a viewing gallery as we watched the traffic up and down our street. Seated on the banisters or steps, we counted cars, watched delivery trucks unload at the corner delicatessen, waved at the neighbors as they strolled past our house, and generally connected with the folks who made up our community.

Every so often, mom would transform the porch into a 50’s version of a mini water park. She grabbed a broom and pulled the hose to the front of the house and proceeded to give the porch a thorough cleaning, most likely because of all the accumulated grasshopper guts, Twinkie cream, wood shavings from our whittling, and what-not. We had more fun than penguins on an ice floe once she cranked that nozzle to full force. The best part was not knowing exactly when she would suddenly divert the hose’s aim from the concrete to give one of us a quick blast on the tummy or tush. All the kids got in on the frolicking and squeals and giggles could be heard clear to the next block. Afterwards I couldn’t wait to play on the freshly scrubbed porch – but only after changing out of the soggy duds.

I especially loved the porch after dark. The street lights would cast a warm glow on the sidewalk, the street, and the other houses. Evening was when Dad would have time to sit with me on the glider. It was so relaxing to listen to one of his stories, watch the boys play hide and seek — with the telephone pole in front of our house being home base, or sit and listen to a chorus of crickets. One evening, I took advantage of this special quiet time I was having alone with Dad, and the porch became the setting for the New Smoker’s Lab, which story I tell in an earlier post, Warning – Smoking Can Cause

Fast forward fifty years or so and I’m still hanging out on the porch. About ten years ago my husband and I bought an old craftsman style house – grey frame, at that – with a brick and concrete porch that extends across the entire front of the house. Who says you can’t go home? And just like before, we enjoy our porch about eight months out of the year.

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My porch today.

It’s where you’ll often find us reading a good book, or maybe the Sunday comics, munching snacks (but probably not Twinkies, these days), enjoying conversation, playing games or furthering some aspect of a home improvement project (which explains the paint spatters, saw dust and random bits of drywall also found on the porch. Quick! Someone grab the hose and a broom!  We take refuge from the noonday sun, watch the raindrops hit the pavement during a summer downpour from beneath the wide eaves, and listen to crickets chirp in the evenings. We greet neighbors as they stroll by, wave at friends as they slow down and holler out the car window, watch delivery trucks and city buses, and generally connect with the folks who make up our neighborhood.

I still love my porch.