The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio : How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less
The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less Author:Terry Ryan, Brendan Ryan The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio introduces Evelyn Ryan, an enterprising woman who kept poverty at bay with wit, poetry, and perfect prose during the "contest era" of the 1950s and 1960s. — Stepping back into a time when fledgling advertising agencies were active partners with consumers, and everyday people saw possibility in e... more »very coupon, Terry Ryan tells how her mother kept the family afloat by writing jingles and contest entries. Mom's winning ways defied the Church, her alcoholic husband, and antiquated views of housewives. To her, flouting convention was a small price to pay when it came to securing a happy home for her six sons and four daughters. Evelyn, who would surely be a Madison Avenue executive if she were working today, composed her jingles not in the boardroom, but at the ironing board.
By entering contests wherever she found them -- TV, radio, newspapers, direct-mail ads -- Evelyn Ryan was able to win every appliance her family ever owned, not to mention cars, television sets, bicycles, watches, a jukebox, and even trips to New York, Dallas, and Switzerland. But it wasn't just the winning that was miraculous; it was the timing. If a toaster died, one was sure to arrive in the mail from a forgotten contest. Days after the bank called in the second mortgage on the house, a call came from the Dr Pepper company: Evelyn was the grand-prize winner in its national contest -- and had won enough to pay the bank.
Graced with a rare appreciation for life's inherent hilarity, Evelyn turned every financial challenge into an opportunity for fun and profit. From her frenetic supermarket shopping spree -- worth $3,000 today -- to her clever entries worthy of Erma Bombeck, Dorothy Parker, and Ogden Nash, the story of this irrepressible woman whose talents reached far beyond her formidable verbal skills is told in The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio with an infectious joy that shows how a winning spirit will triumph over the poverty of circumstance.« less
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.
hickgal - reviewed The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio : How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less 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.
ReadingMonster reviewed The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio : How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less on
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!!!
An amazing book about an amazing woman. I grew up in a low-income family of five children, but my experiences pale in comparison to the history of this no-income family, living off whatever she could win. Wow!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.