While the blurb on the back of the book describes the book perfectly, I was most impressed by this woman, who after raising 10 kids and sending them all off to college on full scholarships, continued to support her husband while he eventually became a better man. He banked every penny of his pension as she supported him in retirement, and surprised her with a gift of it all, upon his death. It was so much money that she was able to live and travel off the interest and her own pension, and leave the total amount to her kids!
Blurb on the back of the book: "This plucky middle American chronicle, starring an unsinkable, relentlessly resourceful mother and her Madison Avenue-style magic, succeeds on many leels -- as a tale of family spirit triumphing over penury, as a history of mid-century American consumerism, and as a memoir about a woman who was both ahead of her time and unable to escape it." --- The New Yorker
What a great find! I picked this book up at the Salvation Army and loved it! It is the true story of a woman who supported her family of 10 kids by doing what she did best- write jingles or finish a line in 25 words or less. She was a gifted writer and she won many prizes to prove it; two cars, numerous trips, bicycles, toys, kitchen appliances and a boat-load of money- all used to support her family. She was a hero to her kids and a true inspiration to the rest of us.
This is the story of a mother of 10 children and the wife of an alcoholic husband who won contestmoney and prizes to keep her family clothed and fed in an era when women didn't work outside the home. It is a story of one woman's desperate fight to keep her family out of poverty and full of humor and the postive attitude that made life bearable for her children.
CA R. reviewed The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio on
Helpful Score: 2
I read this book straight through. Besides being an good story, it is an interesting look at what a woman's life in the 1950's-60s was like if she lived with an alcoholic who was abusive at times. Furthermore, it is a wonderful book about a bright woman with a great deal of determination. The final chapters provide insight on how the children saw their mother differently (that is, better understood her) once they looked through her belongings after her death. It made me cry at the end because I think many of us know women like her...
hickgal - reviewed The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio on
Helpful Score: 2
Although a lot of this book was heartbreaking it was also funny and touching. The mother was a genius at writing jingles and ad lines. She did what what she did best to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
Subtitled "How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less," this is the story of an otherwise ordinary woman who supported her family in the 1950s and 60s by winning contests - written by kid #6. An absolute delight.
I received the book today in the mail from another member and couldn't wait to start reading it. 6 1/2 hours later I had finished it and couldn't believe how much I had enjoyed it. I will admit that I cried for the entire last chapter. I rarely read anything but fiction but I truly believe this is a book most people can get something out of and enjoy. I went onto the website to email the author, who happens to be the sixth child of the main character. I found out to my dismay that she had passed on in 2007. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
I was very interested in the life of this woman. I was interested in the ways that she was able to get money for her family. I felt sorry for her married life and was glad that she was able to find joy somehow in her life. It was miraculous how many times she was able to save her families financial situation.
Loved this book about a mom of 10 who entered the word contests of the 50's and 60's and helped support her family through prizes--both cash and items like appliances and cars. The book has parts that are hysterically funny, poignant, and inspiring.
An entertaining and quick read--> This was a VERY inspirational story about a woman who managed to keep her family (10 kids!) above the poverty line by using her talent for writing to enter contests in the 1940s and 1950s (jingles, why you like our product in 25 words or less, etc). This book is written by her daughter and you really get a sense of how her mother was a very intelligent, witty, and positive person who started off life with a dream of being a newspaper writer and ended up being a writer in her own way. Evelyn Ryan was trapped in a time period where women were expected to stay at home, but she still found a way to provide for her family. Evelyn's daughter, Terry Ryan paints a very colorful picture of what it was like to live in a house with 10 siblings and an alcoholic father. Her portrayal of her father seems quite realistic- the fear the family felt when he was drinking, how he wanted to stop but was just so consumed by addiction, and the consequences years of drinking took on his body and on his family. Anyway, I felt myself cheering for Evelyn Ryan the entire time and she really shows how any mother would do whatever it is she could do to help her children not only survive, but thrive.
This is such a wonderful read, got it one day and finished it the next! If you have ever seen the movie version, you are missing the meat and potatoes of the story. Read how the Ryan family really triumphed over adversity and hardships with the whit, wisdom, and knowledge of language and word usage from their wonderfully delightful mother, Evelyn Ryan.
I love this book. I was brought to tears several times by the tales of this family. I saw the movie (which I loved) first, and knew I had to read the book. It didn't let me down. I strongly reccomend both of them.
Janiece S. reviewed The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio on
Helpful Score: 1
This book is inspirational and positive. It painted a wonderful picture of what life must have been like in the 1950's, particularly for a mother of 10 children (Evelyn Ryan). There were many parts where I couldn't help but laugh out loud based on some of the things Evelyn's children got into. It also made me cry because of the obstacles Evelyn encountered with her alcoholic husband and other problems which seemed insurmountable. Would recommend this book!
I really enjoyed this book because of Evelyn Ryan's positive outlook on life. There were a lot of things about this woman's life that could have left her depressed and homeless, but she just kept on entering those contests. It just goes to show you that when life gives you lemons, you can still make lemonade!
Great story about how a mother in the 1950's kept her family from poverty by contentiously winning prizes for writing witty jingles or catchphrases for companies. It's a good movie and an even better book.
True story. I found the constant reading of the jingles a little bit annoying, but it's a good book and it's amazing how this woman supported her family by winning contests. If you want a true to life feel good story, then this is the book for you.
I found this book fascinating, mostly because of how much I admired the lead character -- a woman who had to deal with much adversity in her life, but did it with great humor and an incredible optimism.
This book is amazing. It's been a LONG time since I've cried while reading a memoir/biography, but, I lost it during the final pages. Evelyn Ryan was a REMARKABLE woman, and her daughter Terry tells her story beautifully. Fascinating, emotional, fun, sad, uplifting - all in one book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
This was a decent read but overall I was disappointed. For the first half of the book I felt like I was reading the same chapter over and over again. We were poor, mom entered a contest, (insert catchy entry here) she won a prize. It picked up at the end but was too repetative for me.
Evelyn Ryan was a housewife and mother in Defiance, Ohio who between the 1950s and 1960's (the contest era) entered every contest available. She wrote poetry, prose, jingles, short stories for the newspaper. With her winnings she managed to keep her family afloat and poverty at bay. Her husband was a typical man of the time; worked, drank, managed the money. By entering contests where ever she found them - TV, radio, newspapers, etc Evelyn was able to win bicycles, watches, washing machines, dryers, cars, trips and even a jutebox. She sold almost all of her prizes because her family needed the money. The story is about her upbeat, look at the good side of life personality. She raised ten kids who turned out to be strong honest hard-working people. I really liked the book and would recommend it to everyone.
This mom was a prize winner in more ways than one--under very trying circumstances, she managed to raise 10 children to successful adulthood. It was amazing to me that in the face of so many difficulties, she kept her determination and a fiercely positive outlook, and passed those qualities along to her family. This was nicely written, not syrupy, not melodramatic, and the author's admiration for her Mom shines through on every page. It was also a lot of fun to revisit some of the familiar products and advertising from the era.
I enjoyed reading this book. I remember the juggle contests of the 1950s and 1960s. Evelen Ryan was a typical housewife of her time. She stayed home raising her kids, taking pride in her home and family. She kept her family from poverty with her poetry and contesting. Somehow her jingle winnings always arrived just in time to keep food on the table or shoes on her children's feet. She won sewing machines, washers and dryers, dancing shoes, roller skates, trips and, of course, money. She once provided Christmas for all the children from the things in her prize closet. That's where she kept all the prizes she won. This book is an enjoyable read and I hope you have an opportunity to read it.
First off, the story of Terry Ryan's mother, Evelyn, and her talent for contesting and, indeed, for living life and rising above challenges is heartwarming. Then again, you've got a vivid, if understated, portrayal of what many Catholic families faced in the '50's when living with an abusive alcoholic. There was virtually no support. A woman was to "put up and shut up." And yet Terry, AKA "Tuffy," does not appear to be bitter about her dad, but rather grateful, another testimony to the grace of her mother.
Excellent book about Terry Ryan and her wonderfully creative mother. When the family fell on hard times, Terry's mom and her talent for winning contests helped keep them all together in the family home. A must read!
This was a good book about a gutsy woman. When things seemed like nothing was going right and money was short a win always seemed to come through. Evelyn Ryan, who kept poverty at bay with wit, poetry, and perfect prose during the "contest era" of the 1950's and 60.
I loved this book! I also saw the movie. Its about how one woman supplements her familys income with contests. The husband of the family is a alcoholic who resents her winning but needs the money and prizes to get by. This is based on a true woman.
The full title of this book is The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan. That pretty much sets the premise of the book, which is based on the true story of Evelyn Ryan who raised a hungry brood on contest winnings in the 1950s and 60s. Her husband was an alcoholic who contributed very little to the family. In fact, his inability to provide for his family, coupled with his abusive temper was a hindrance that Evelyn had to work around. Undaunted, Evelyn armed herself with humor and an indomitable spirit and plowed forward to support her family the best she could. She did that by writing snappy little jingles for products like Dial soap, Lipton Soup, Heinz ketchup, and more. And she was good at it. She would set up her ironing board, get out her note cards, and write lines like: Dial is wonderful, gently repealing what most fresheners just succeed in concealing. She won many, many prizes: money, food, toys, and appliances just to name a few. It was because of her winnings that her kids were able to enjoy roller skates, pogo sticks, sleds, and boots. One of the most memorable scenes in the book is when she won a shopping spree at a local supermarket. Weeks before the scheduled ten-minute spree she strategized on ways to make the most of the assault. She shot through the store like a missile and hauled in $411.44 worth of goodies (about $3,000 today)! This book is a true love letter to a mother who gave all she had to keeping her family fed and happy! Read other reviews at http://readinginthegarden.blogspot.com
THis is a very hilarious and entertaining book. The mother is very creative in her poems for the contest entries as well as being a great mom. This story takes place in the 50's and is a wonderful snapshot of that era, as well as giving us a peek into the family life of a 12 member family. A wonderful read!
NOTE: This same isbn is not large-print. PBS says they cannot edit the book data to reflect that fact, since some copies might be large print.
In a nutshell, this is one of the very best books I have ever read!This true memoir is set mainly in the good 'ol 50's! They are Catholic, good moral , "baby poppin" people :) To help her alcoholic husband ( he wasn't as "religious" as Evelyn was) provide for the growing family, she started entering "jingles" short poems touting products.She wins a car, a fridge, and so many , many other wonderful prizes, lots of money, actually, enough money to support the family.
In the 40's and 50's..when "jingles" which were little poems to advertise products, were written by the consumers. This wonderful lady wrote jingle after jingle, right in the nick of time, to help bail them out of many financial disasters,. It was so entertaining, I loved it so very much..You will too!!
True-life story of an Ohio woman who supplemented her family's income to provide for the family's 10 children by entering (and frequently winning) the "25 words or less" type contests popular in the 1950s.