by Malia, May 25, 2005 12:38 PM
Evelyn Ryan's family may have been one of the poorest in town, but her children did not go without the occasional taste of well-earned luxury. Their mother entered every contest imaginable (there were plenty in the '50s and '60s) and won everything from candy bars and basketballs to a trip to Switzerland and a down payment on the family's house. Terry Ryan ? poet, collaborating author of the long-running T. O. Sylvester cartoon, and sixth in Evelyn's brood ? offers this utterly heartwarming memoir about her mother's knack for keeping the family in shoes and in stitches when basic necessities and laughter would have otherwise been scarce. Ryan's memoir reveals as much about American consumers' relationship with postwar marketing as it does about her mother's wit and resourcefulness. Evelyn's jingles, crafted at the ironing board, made it into magazines, roadside Burma Shave signs, and ad campaigns all over the country. Her determination to share with her family every taste and experience that Privilege would never have deigned to grant them is deftly portrayed in this exhilarating tribute to spirit.