10/23/07

The Neighborhood Sure Will Miss Her...

Wynn Speece died yesterday at a hospital in Yankton, South Dakota. She was 90.

Wynn, who was from Marshalltown,Iowa was known for more than six decades as "The Neighborhood Lady" on WNAX in Yankton, which covered five states. She shared recipes, household tips and personal anecdotes with listeners.

Wynn started at WNAX in 1939 -- shortly after graduating from Drake University with a degree in theater.


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I suspect a lot of people age 60 and under might not know her name. I may only be in my 30's but I do! As a matter fact I often dreamed of having a career like hers many times over the years.

When my Grandma was young she lived in the Midwest and listened to the radio show. I have an old school composition notebook that she would painstakingly copy down recipes every week from the radio show. It might have even been required by her Home Ec class in school - since it seems as if the school notebook may have been turned in each week. I'm not sure. Some of the shows are dated, with the radio call letters included and sometimes little doodles... I suspect things Grandma jotted down as she sat and listened to the stories and anecdotes before the recipes were given. Unfortunately for me she wrote a lot of them in pencil and they have smudged and faded through the years and through use, but many are still readable and I love to flip through the old recipes from 1939 and the 1940's.


My Grandmother was getting rid of a lot of her cookbooks and passed them down to me. Included in those cookbooks were a few of the Neighborhood Lady's booklets that were from the 40's and 50's. I read them from cover to cover more than a few times. The booklets were full of recipes from her readers but she also shared much about her own life and the lives of her kids and we were able to watch them 'grow up' through photos in the booklets.

I had packed away the booklets and the composition notebook last year along with about 3/4 of my cookbooks as my current home does not have a good space or place for them. I haven't though about the Neighborhood Lady booklets in awhile... I think it's about time I pull them back out again and give them another read. I'm sure I'm going to find some great classic recipes to share.

Rest in Peace Wynn.... you brought a lot of great food and happiness to those around you!

*The information in italics is from a news article - not my words but I need to point out that she was called the Neighbor Lady... not the Neighborhood Lady. Apparently the author was simply writing their piece and didn't have a clue who she was.

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