The Faygo Book – by Joe Grimm (2018)


It all started in 1907 with two brothers,┬áBen and Perry Feigenson, Russian immigrants who had settled in Detroit, Michigan. Although they began as bakers, they decided to try their hand at making flavored soda. Using cake frosting recipes for ideas, they created their first three flavors – strawberry, fruit punch, and grape – and sold them to local drugstores and saloons. Customers loved the soda, which the brothers preferred to call “pop”.

A myriad of other flavors were created over the years. Many were discontinued, but there was always plenty of choice when it came to Faygo pop. Some of their unique flavors were: blueberry cream, golden ginger ale, honeydew mist, lime rickey, sassafras, and chocolate treat. This book is full of trivia about the business, which remains in Detroit to the present day. The Feigenson brothers showed no racial bias in their hiring. Here’s an excerpt from page 67:

In the neighborhood, Faygo was known for treating people fairly. Bill Camp, a black employee hired in March 1937 after being laid off from a foundry job because of a strike at Chrysler, recalled hearing about an early union-organizing campaign. Camp told the in-house Faygogazette in the summer of 1983, “a union was trying to organize Faygo. Mr. Perry Feigenson was agreeable. But then he found out that the union contract would require Faygo to get rid of black workers.” Camp said Perry told the union, “Go to hell! Faygo hires from the neighborhood around us. And that’s how we’re going to continue to hire whenever we can.”

What I enjoyed the most about this book were all the colorful pictures. They covered the span of a century, and made me feel quite nostalgic. While I rarely drink soda, it made me want to run to the grocery story and buy a Faygo pop!


Cheaper By The Dozen – by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (1948)

Cheaper By The Dozen

For being written so long ago, this book certainly holds up well. It was written by a brother and sister team from a family of twelve children. Their father, Frank Sr., was an efficiency scientist who often used his own family as the subject of his time and motion studies. He made a living advising companies and factories in how to make the end product in as little time and movements as possible. Their mother was a psychologist, and assisted her husband in his surveys. “Cheaper By The Dozen” recalls the wild and crazy years of growing up in this unusual household. The book was made into a movie in 1950, a radio drama at some point, a stage play in 1992, a musical after that, and most recently into a movie again in 2003. It was translated into ten languages, and has been re-printed many times. It won a French International Humor Award. And humorous it is!

Is it a biography or a novel? After checking online catalogs of three different library systems, I found that some of them catalogued it as biography, and a few put it in fiction. When I read the book, it did seem like it was somewhat embellished at times, but it seems to be mostly biographical. It’s a humorous read that can still be enjoyed more than 70 years after being written. I’d call that a winning read!

Behind The Personality: The Story Of My Life – by Florence Littauer (2003)

behind the personality

A long time ago, I read an excellent book called “Personality Plus”. The author, Florence Littauer, did a fantastic job describing the basic personality types – sanguine, melancholy, choleric, and phlegmatic. The four types had already been named and written about by others, but Florence had a knack for presenting things in a much more amusing way. People loved her wit and charisma. She ended up being a popular speaker at conferences and conventions and church gatherings. She and her husband Fred were totally opposite temperaments, which drove them crazy in the early years of their marriage.

This book is her autobiography. She describes her impoverished childhood, her family living in three rooms off her father’s tiny corner store. The customers could see them and talk to them while they were eating supper. They were always interacting with people; no one was ever alone. It would have driven me crazy, but with Florence it seemed to develop in her an ability to interact with and entertain almost anyone.

I enjoyed reading the part about her marriage to Fred, and their children, although there was also an extremely heartbreaking part of the story. Florence and Fred kept aggravating each other for years, until they found Jesus and learned to deal with the quirks of each other’s temperaments. The rest of the book describes various ministries she was in, places she lived, and where she traveled as a public speaker. This was not as interesting to me, as she seemed to get side-tracked by describing clothing, house renovations, and popular people with which she crossed paths. Still, it was a good inside look at the woman who wrote that fantastic book “Personality Plus”.

Reading Just Part Of A Book

our glorious century

When you read a book of fiction, you generally have to read all of it to have a satisfactory experience. But with many non-fiction books, you can read just a section of the book, choosing the part that interests you. This book (by Readers’ Digest) goes decade by decade, and just gives the highlights from each time period.

I chose the first decade – 1900 to 1909. It was fun to read, not boring like the history books in school. It didn’t get overly detailed, and each page had multiple pictures to make it more real to the reader. I read about 45 pages, and understood the decade much better than I had before. There were so many great things that happened and developed during that decade:
– Electricity, lightbulbs, and telephones started appearing in homes.
– 9 million immigrants moved into the US; most were from southern or eastern Europe.
– Our country had more than half of the railroad tracks in the world (193,000 miles)!
– There was no income tax – imagine that!
– X-ray machines were being used in medical treatment.
– Scientists discovered that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitos, and epidemics
could be curbed by exterminating the insects. The last major U.S. epidemic was in 1906.
– The NAACP was formed in 1909 to advocate for the rights of Negroes/black persons.
– The first nickelodeon (a theatre that showed early attempts at movie-making) started in
1905, expanded to 1,000 of them by the following year, and to ten thousand in 1910.
– In 1900, 1.7 million children were working. Some 284,000 of them were in coal mines or
factories, up to 12 hours a day. Child labor was not yet illegal.
– Thanks to the 1906 Pure Food And Drug Act, medicine containers had to list what it
contained. Snake oil cures were revealed to contain mostly alcohol.
– Psychology was in vogue. It was socially acceptable to have “a case of nerves” or
“brain fatigue”. Freud became popular.

One thing that really stood out to me was this:
Literacy among Americans grew to over 90% by 1910 – fantastic!

So don’t be hesitant about picking up a thick non-fiction book like this one, and reading just a part of it. I’m glad I did, and will do more of this in the future!


Unveiling Grace – by Lynn K. Wilder

unveiling grace

I really didn’t know much about the Mormon religion before reading this book. Oh sure, I had seen pairs of Mormon missionaries in public, either knocking door-to-door witnessing or using the library internet stations to e-mail home. I was invited to the wedding of a neighbor that was Mormon some years ago, and did attend. What I remember about their church was that there was no cross and no image of Jesus, and it almost didn’t seem like a church. Having said that, the Mormon folks were very welcoming and friendly to me.

When my friend mentioned this book to me, I was afraid it would be a boring theological book about various points of doctrine that the author disagreed with. Instead, this book turned out to be a fascinating read about Lynn and her tight-knit family, covering a span of about twenty years. She describes how she and her husband jumped into being members of the Mormon church without really knowing much about it, how they became more tangled in it as the years went by, and how nearly impossible it was to leave. Each of their four kids also wrestled with the issue of whether to stay in the church they’d grown up in and felt secure in, or to break free and start over.

The book gave me a front-row seat into the lifestyles and habits of the Mormons. Some of their practices seemed noble, like spending two years as missionaries, and having an extremely strong work ethic. But many other things were troubling. It was rigid and oppressive, and to disobey them meant you weren’t getting into heaven. If you were ready to confess your sins, you didn’t pray to Jesus to forgive you. Instead, you visited your minister, or a committee, and you were told if you would be forgiven. Wow, I thought, this sounds a bit like the dark ages. I kept reading. It turns out that their church believes Jesus used to be a mere mortal, but was able to work his way up to being a god. He can only be in one place at a time. No wonder he’s too busy to hear people pray for forgiveness! Thankfully, the book wasn’t just a dry recitation of church beliefs, but described their daily lives, their jobs, and so on. Enough of the church beliefs were woven into the story-line to get a good picture of church doctrine.

I love the ending of the book. Instead of saying that they hated the Mormons and their church, Lynn and her family have a great love for their former church members. They want them to know the real Jesus, and that you don’t have to be a slave to a bunch of legalistic rules. Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one God, they can be everywhere, and yes they can forgive your sins and bring you to heaven!

Lynn’s grown children began a ministry called “Adam’s Road” to reach out to Mormons who are looking for a real relationship with Jesus. They understand how difficult it is to leave the church they grew up in, or even to question the authority of the church. This book shows the patience of God and His tender heart, and how important it is to read the Bible ourselves so that we know the truth.

Three Weeks With My Brother – by Nicholas Sparks (2004)

three weeks with my brother

The older I get, the more I appreciate a well-written memoir. While author Nicholas Sparks can write great novels, this book, which tells the story of his family, is far superior to any fiction he has written. I do have to say that “A Walk To Remember” was wonderful, but it was fiction inspired by the loss of his sister.

But back to our featured book. In 2003, Nicholas Sparks was exhausted, averaging three hours of sleep a night, and on the verge of a collapse. At the urging of his wife and brother, he took a vacation. And what a vacation it was! Nicholas and his brother Micah went on a three-week guided tour of the world. The descriptions of the famous places they saw were amazing, and left me wanting to see a few of them myself. Wedged between vacation stories, Nicholas writes about his childhood, parents, and siblings, and the journey to adulthood and a family of his own.

This book is really about two journeys – one journey of three weeks with his brother, and the journey of his family over the years. The relationship Nicholas shares with his brother Micah is truly a remarkable one. Even though there were a lot of things that went wrong, their devotion to each other carried them through it all.

A Double Dose Of Dilaudid – by Kerry Hamm (2015)

A Double Does Of Dilaudid

Author Kerry Hamm has worked in an Ohio emergency room for years. As the registration nurse, she has accumulated hundreds of humorous and crazy stories of happenings in the ER. Kerry doesn’t focus on the patients who had a heart attack or were in a car accident. Instead, she focuses on the unusual and bizarre things that bring people to the hospital.

Quite frankly, I don’t know how people work in jobs like this. Can we say high stress? I likely would not last a week at this sort of job. Having said this, however, I’m glad that someone is willing to do the job. If you want to get a little taste of emergency room life, this is a great little book. If you really love this book, Kerry has written two more just like it!