Bette Davis’ Frozen Macaroni

Christina Crawford published an autobiography about what it was like to grow up with her film star mother Joan Crawford in 1978, one year after her mother passed away. B.D. Hyman published her book about being the daughter of film star Bette Davis in 1985, while Bette was still alive (sample sentence: “While mother was at Paramount doing Pocketful of Miracles, having almost walked off the picture because Glenn Ford insisted that Hope Lange have the dressing room next to his (the one Mother wanted), I found a new distraction”). Of particular interest are her descriptions of Bette’s domestic skills, like her preparation of Stouffer’s frozen Macaroni and Cheese– Hyman added that “the directions on the box said: ‘Place in oven, uncovered and still frozen, for 35 minutes at 375° and serve.”

“Here are Mother’s directions, based on the way she did it that morning:

Cover a counter with several layers of paper towels and place frozen casseroles thereon; remove covers and allow to thaw.

Cover another counter with several layers of paper towels, slice a large tomato and leave slices on towels.

Sit on stool, smoke nervously and sip from drink hidden behind flour canister while you watch casseroles thaw. WARNING–Do not take eyes off casseroles or they will fail to thaw properly.

When casseroles are fully thawed, get large casserole dish and tip thawed casseroles into it. Thoroughly mush around with forefinger until satisfied.

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and arrange tomato slices around edge.

Hold lengthy debate with interested parties as to exact time dish is to be served. WARNING–Macaroni and cheese is very tricky and must be done just right.

Preheat oven for 45 minutes at 375°, meanwhile moving casserole dish around counter and to different counters to facilitate blending.

Place casserole dish in oven for 35 minutes. Announce lunch loudly and serve, chewing bottom lip in concentration.

Fidget until praised for efforts, then remind diners that macaroni and cheese is tricky and requires some little work.”

B.D. Hyman, My Mother’s Keeper, William Morrow & Company, Inc. 1985.

Emile Zola Presages Facebook

The Intermediate Period

Zola by ManetExcerpt from Emila Zola’s La Curée (The Kill), published in 1872

‘…Maxime also brought these ladies photographs. He had actresses’ photographs in all his pockets, and even in his cigar-case. From time to time he cleared them out and placed these ladies in the album that lay about on the furniture in the drawing-room, and that already contained the photographs of Renée’s friends. There were men’s photographs there too, M. de Rozan, Mr. Simpson, MM. de Chibray, de Mussy, as well as actors, writers, deputies, who had come to swell the collection nobody knew how. A strangely mixed society, a symbol of the jumble of persons and ideas that crossed Renée’s and Maxime’s lives. Whenever it rained or they felt bored, this album was the great subject of conversation. It always ended by falling under one’s hand. Renée opened it with a yawn, for the hundredth time perhaps…

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Ivana Trump on Donald’s Presidential Ambitions, 1988

Donald and Ivana Trump were married in 1977 by the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale. This was unfortunately always on the cards:

“In the limousine, we move on to happier subjects. How does she feel about all this talk of Donald running for president? And is her own ultimate goal to be First Lady? ‘It’s not for the next ten years, definitely not,’ Ivana replies quite seriously. ‘There is so much to do. We have invested in this town close to a billion dollars. We can’t just put it in escrow and go to the White House. It would go down the drain in a second. It’s too young, too new. But in ten years Donald is going to be just fifty-one years old—a young man. What he’s done in the last ten years some corporations don’t do in a hundred years. Donald is interested in politics at a certain level. But I don’t think he would run for mayor—he could do that so easily. That wouldn’t be a challenge for him.’
Ivana may also feel that the White House would provide a better showcase for her own talents than Gracie Mansion. Imagine a First Lady who could redecorate it more professionally than any of her predecessors. (And who’s to say the Oval Office wouldn’t look better in pink marble with a waterfall along one wall?) Ivana’s European perspective wouldn’t hurt, either: she speaks fluent German, French, Czech, and . . . Russian. With her casino savvy, she’d be a perfect consultant on the economy. And for the all-important task of overseeing White House social affairs and the service staff, what better experience could one have than overseeing not one but three palatial residences?”

Michael Shnayerson, Inside Ivana’s Role in Donald Trump’s Empire, Vanity Fair, January 2, 1988.

Soviet Footwear


“The Administration of the Development of the Footwear, Leather, and Leather Goods Industry jointly with the ministries of light industry of the union of republics need to elaborate versions of their efficient making up of all types of footwear, starting with fashionable and especially elegant footwear and ending with Russian leather work shoes…  

The assimilation of four fundamentally new types of footwear: ‘after skiing,’ men’s half boots in the design of moccasins, women’s boots made of a combination of natural and synthetic leather, women’s shoes of thong designs on soles made of rigid polyurethane and with heel instep blocks made of ABS plastic have been produced… However, work on the development of ‘after-ski’ footwear and women’s boots made of synthetic leathers is being performed extremely slowly.”

Soviet Union’s 10th 5-Year Plan, quoted in Missed Information, by David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin, MIT Press, 2016.

Michael Jackson in a White House Bathroom

“Things turned strange, however, when he arrived at the Diplomatic Reception Room where he was to meet with Reagan. He had been told only that there would be a few children of staff members who wanted to see him. In fact, horror of horrors, there were some 75 adults. Michael hastily beat it for the men’s room off the Presidential Library. He wouldn’t come out. An advance man tried to coax him out, promising that there really would be children to meet him. Another advance person, fearful that Nancy—who was due to arrive any minute—would see that there was a crisis in the works, immediately ordered the senior staff and Cabinet members out of the reception room so that the grownups and their children could meet the superstar in small groups.

Pleased with that compromise, Michael agreed to come out of the lavatory. Awaiting him were several of the government’s highest ranking personages and their children. Transportation Secretary Liddy Dole thrust out a copy of the Thriller album for him to sign.”

“Why Michael Hid Out in a White House Men’s Room, and Other Tales of the Day Power Played Host to Fame.” By People Staff, People, May 28, 1984.

Ivana Trump Designs Maternity Wear

Algorithms are a cruel mistress. Fake Olympian, novelistrecording artist and entrepreneur, Ivana Trump’s name now elicits Google’s most cutting query: ‘Did you mean: ivanka trump.’ The woman who was once so famous she appeared as herself in a commercial for Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust deserves better. As the president and CEO of Trump Castle Hotel & Casino, not a single detail escaped her exacting, gimlet eyes. 

‘There was the episode of the pregnant cocktail waitress. Not long after the opening of the casino, one of the cocktail waitresses seemed to be having trouble getting into her uniform– which was a lovely, form-fitting, and modern cut– designed by Ivana Trump.
The waitress had an out-of-work husband and a child at home, and wanted to continue working as long as she could into her pregnancy. Hearing about the problem, Ivana reassigned the waitress to a more relaxing job in a lounge on the fringes of the casino.
And in the meantime, Ivana redesigned the uniform. What she came up with was a kind of modified clown suit– a court jester getup– that became the required uniform for all pregnant cocktail waitresses.”

Norma King, Ivana Trump: A Very Unauthorized Biography, Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. New York, 1990.


The people who reported their social engagements to local newspapers would have loved Facebook. Franklin’s grandson Richard Milhous Nixon would open his first law practice in La Habra in 1939.

“Mr. and Mrs. Charles Milhous entertained Sunday all. their children and grandchildren at a family dinner in honor of their son, Frank M. Milhous. Those present were Theodore Seolke and family of La Habra, Emma J. Ware and wife of Whittier, William Milhous and Wife, Frank M. Milhous and Mr. Miller of Chicago, Miss Laura McClure and Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Milhous.”

La Habra Star, Volume I, Number 21, 30 November 1916——-en–20–1–txt-txIN——–1