Praise for "Penny Loafers & Bobby Pins"
Candy Pearson, Apple Blossom Books, Oshkosh
"Cruise down a Memory Lane lined with nostalgia, humor, and how-to's in this irreverent memoir of growing up Baby Boomer in the heart of the Midwest. From a first peek at television as a child to weekend trips in a converted city bus, first communions, and homecoming parade floats, the Sanvidge sisters deliver it all again with the same flair as their incredibly popular cookbook memoir, 'Apple Betty and Sloppy Joe.' Honest, clean good humor from a more innocent time in life and in America is fun reading for everyone—this is a book you'll want to share with all of your best-friends-forever, sisters, and especially your long-suffering mother (bless her soul!). Reading the Sanvidge sisters' stories is sure to spark many memories of your own. Laugh until the tears come and relive a piece of childhood: try one of the craft how-to's, hairdos, or another scrumptious homemade recipe from Grandma Noffke!"
Mary Ann Grossmann, "The Pioneer Press"
"There's much talk about baby boomers these days, with the first wave of this huge population hitting 65 this year. This fun-filled memoir by four sisters who grew up in Oshkosh, Wis., will trigger lots of memories for women who came of age in the post-World War II years. There's a little bit of everything in this book — memories of the girls' time at the lake, how-to tips on making pin curls correctly (not something we'd want to relive) and Kool-Aid 'in the battered old aluminum pitcher,' as well as poodle skirts and petticoats, girdles (shudder) that held up stockings before the invention of pantyhose and weekly doses of 'goiter pills' handed out at school. Mingled with the memories are such recipes as make-it-yourself chocolate syrup and Aunt Millie's Southern Fried Chicken. This book is lots of fun. It's not surprising it was a Midwest Booksellers Association Midwest Connections pick, meaning it is being recommended by staff of independent bookstores."
This feature article by Patricia Wolff appeared in the "Oshkosh Northwestern" on Sunday, September 19, 2010
Sanvidge sisters' second book shares tips, family stories
Breakfast in a bustling local restaurant on Labor Day with four women who grew up in Oshkosh in the 1950s and 60s as they shared their favorite memories was a lot like their new book – full of flavor, warmth and laughter.
They laughed robustly recalling some of the details of the stories in their newly released book, "Penny Loafers & Bobby Pins." The book chronicles the lives of four sisters growing up in Oshkosh, attending St. Mary's Catholic School and Lourdes High School, playing with neighborhood children during an era when outdoor adventures were the epitome of fun, shopping in downtown stores, and spending quality time with extended family.
The new book follows on the heels of "Apple Betty and Sloppy Joe," a cookbook the four authors penned as a labor of love for their parents several years ago.
The authors – who range in age from 52 to 62 – include Julie Sanvidge Florence, a public library director in Ohio; Jean Sanvidge Wouters, a homemaker in Winneconne; Diane Sanvidge Seckar, an electrician and business owner in Winneconne; and Susan Sanvidge, a graphic designer in Chicago.
The Wisconsin Historical Society Press published both books. The first one sold more than 5,000 copies.
"That's a very successful book for us," said Kate Thompson, the historical society's acquisitions editor.
The Sanvidge sisters' first book is a treasure trove of favorite family recipes intermingled with photographs and snippets of family legend and Oshkosh lore. It resonated with both men and women and people of all ages, Thompson said.
The new book has a few recipes in it and a smattering of "how-tos," and lots of photos, but the meat of this book is the family stories.
"There is real heart in their stories and a quality of writing that lets us see what growing up in their neighborhood and their family meant to them," Thompson said.
The "how-tos" show readers how to make a Chinese jump rope, a yarn octopus, a gum wrapper chain, a paper fortune teller, a book cover like they did in grade school and many more fun and useful things.
"When I heard the Sanvidges were still writing down memories we felt there was more to tell and that people would respond," Thompson said.
What followed was "Penny Loafers & Bobby Pins," a 240-page capsule of life that reflects the lives of these four sisters with humor and a sense of nostalgia.
The book serves the Historical Society's mission of telling the history of everyone and making it relatable, Thompson said.
Wouters did some research to write one of her favorite parts of the book. In four parts she takes readers on a virtual shopping trip in downtown stores circa the mid 1960s – some stores still there and others long gone. You can almost taste the goodies she describes at Caramel Crisp and Oaks Candy Shop and visualize the mohair sweaters stacked neatly at Jeffrey's. On her trip she visits shoe stores, clothing stores and drug stores.
Seckar likes the parts that point out how the things people used on a regular basis were so different back then. "Shampoo used to come in glass bottles," she said.
Florence remembered actually breaking thermometers to get the mercury out to play with it.
"Today if some is spilled they close the school and bring in the guys in haz-mat suits," she said.
Susan Sanvidge wrote about the stern Sister Attila (not her real name), a wiry little nun who ran a tight ship at St. Mary's. She routinely slapped students. Sanvidge can still see the red marks on her classmates' cheeks.
For some reason Sanvidge was teacher's pet that year in sixth grade. Imagine her shock and horror when Sister Attila threatened to slap her if she dropped something a second time and imagine that horror coming home to roost when she did drop the thing again and Sister Attila made good on the threat.
Even today, Sanvidge refuses to divulge that former teacher's name.
"I'd have to join the witness protection program," she said.
Sanvidge recalls Sister Elvis (Alvis maybe?) as someone whose name was something to contemplate to wile away the time during a particularly long sermon. The page contains a drawing of a beatific-looking nun in a wimple. Underneath it are the words – "I am nothing but a hound dog."
Like their first book, "Penny Loafers & Bobby Pins," came about from discussions about food from their childhood.
"It was like opening doors. An open door lead to one more opening," Florence said.
"The food memories jogged more memories," Sanvidge said.
Seckar said the book is really about the concept of family and how important the connections are. Their books inspire others to jot down memories, they said.
All four have a strong sense of gratefulness for their own childhoods. They were inspired to write down their memories to convey to their mother and late father how happy their childhoods were.
"We really had it all," Sanvidge said.
Their father Neil Sanvidge, a house builder in Oshkosh from the 1940s to the 1970s, lived to enjoy the early collection of stories that would become their first book. He covered the packet in return address labels.
"He wanted to make sure he'd get it back if he lent it to anyone," Wouters said.