Betty Koerner turns 80

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My mom, Betty Koerner (aka Elizabeth A. Koerner, Grandma, or EAK) turned 80 in 2001.  Upon this date we did all sorts of things to celebrate the moment.  She received a book with all this information as well as letters from important American dignitaries and birthday cards from my kind students.  We moved her to the Chicago area in 2003 since she was having issues with getting around and dementia and only recently was moved into a nursing home (January of this year) since she is now no longer mobile.  Perhaps in reading about “Betty” you might understand this blogger better?  These things are all true, by the way!

Some of the suggestions are great and some are just off the wall!  So, here goes:


January 8, 2001 is a special day!  Betty turns 80!  Born Elizabeth Ann Bori in Cleveland, Ohio of modest Hungarian origin, married in 1945 to Ernest J. Koerner, widowed in 1959, moved to Parma, and now renowned for her famous book (fictitious statement, here!):  Grandma K’s Hints for Life.  Helping her in this new venture are her son, Richard and daughter, Carol.

Health and Medicine

Practice Medicine:  motherhood bestows this right on you.

Prescribed Medicine:  only take half…medication shouldn’t be overused.

Prescribed every day?  Take it every other day.  Always take ½ the prescribed amount.  Too much destroys the effect.  If you’re desperate, take the normal dose. 

Aches and pains?  Complain about them but forget to mention to the doctor.

Stomach upset?  Boil water and sip it very slowly (you have to, otherwise you’ll burn yourself).  Your problem will disappear.

Beware of drafts!  They can make you sick.

A major “movement” in the bathroom?  Cover your toothbrushes with a paper towel. Caustic fumes could cause you health problems later on, don’t contaminate something you would put in your mouth!

Wear hats in the sun and in the cold.  Otherwise you’ll get sick!

Keep your neck covered.  Otherwise you’ll get sick.

Don’t get sick!  What will your mother say?

Have a cold?  Trouble breathingCamphor oil on a cloth diaper attached with a pin to your shirt or blouse will do wonders!

Betty K’s reverse logic:  Don’t use dental floss, the dentists and floss companies are in cahoots!

Laugh, laugh, laugh, even at yourself, it’s healthy!


When seated at night, rub your feet together while hissing in delight.

Afghans are the best!  Use whenever you watch TV.

Read, read, readyou can even fall asleep while reading!  Make sure that you also watch TV at the same time.


Practice collecting food for famineBuy on sale and stockpile, stockpile, stockpile.  Totally disregard dates on the cans.

Eat leftover foods even when you think they might not be any good.

Save all leftovers no matter how little you have and no matter whether there is any chance anyone would eat them.

Keep your refrigerator filled so that food falls out when you open the door.  This helps insulate food so that it lasts longer!

Eat homemade foodyou can’t trust food from the restaurants.  Eat good bread.  Don’t buy breadcrumbs ever!  Store old bread in the oven and grind into crumbs.  Keep bread in the fridge so it doesn’t get moldy.  In the morning, always eat toast before you eat anything sweet.  Eat something greasy?  Drink hot tea to dissipate its effect.

Greeting Cards

Send cards religiously! When you receive them always say, “…if they only meant it!”


The Flower Corner – or – “How I started my floral collection with one snip!”

Flowers, flowers, flowersyou all love them.

By them when they are half dead and revive them.

“Snitch” pieces and start you own using rooting hormones, water, vermiculite, and/or mason jars to cover them while they root under your bushes.

Want to really embarrass your children or grandchildren…here’s what you do: steal pieces of plants at the Botanical gardens or at the store.  Remember that a beautiful violet can be grown from a single leaf.

Recycle your tea leaves and coffee grounds in the flowerbeds.

Dig in your garden.  Dig so much that you can no longer get up from a stooping position and are so sore you can’t sleep at night.

Use Epsom salts: ½ cup around each rose bush in the spring.  The foliage will be beautiful.

Want really beautiful roses? One of Grandma’s friends used to recycle…you guessed it…(brown, smells) and it really worked.

Wait to mow your lawn until it’s too long.

Use an impossible electric lawn mower.  You’ll be so happy to finish (like the proverbial knocking your head against the wall to enjoy how good it feels when you stop).

Every so often, when using a shrub trimmer, cut the cord to be adventurous, it will add more variety and a complication to your life.

Compost, compost, compost.  It’s the natural way!


The “Forties” approach to cleaner clothes!

Washing clothes?  Save water!  Buy a washer that will save your wash water in the laundry tub.  Re-use numerous times.  Multi-task:  run up and down the steps between the kitchen and laundry area despite your arthritis or bad knees.  Save even more water by washing by hand!

Exercise:  Hang out your clothes!

“Nothing makes clothes cleaner than a wringer washer!”

Remember to wash a few clothes at a time and separate more than conventional wisdom dictates.

Rinse clothing more completely when you wash…wring out by hand.  Betty even takes the already rinsed out clothing from the automatic washer and either rinses again by hand or throws it in the wringer machine.  Remember that clothes properly rinsed will last longer.

…from the frying pan into the fire…Grandma’s Kitchen!

Plastic bags?  Recycle, recycle, recycle! Wash them and hang them on the line.  Re-use ad infinitum.  Remember those plastic bowl covers with elastic?  They’re back!  Buy tons before they stop making them again!

Aluminum Foil can also be re-used:  wipe off, unwrinkled, and fold for next time.

Dishwashers really don’t clean dishes well and besides, they are a harbinger of germs.

Washing dishes?  Do not use the entire sink, use a small bowl.  Save water.

For butter, use only a butter knife.

Always use the proper tools in the kitchen when cooking.  Don’t improvise.

Make sure to buy what you need.

Buy milk in the cardboard cartons; put kitchen refuse in them before putting in the garage.

Don’t ever leave the house with garbage in the can.  Remove!

Save old frying oil in an old-fashioned metal coffee can.  Purify by frying a potato in it and strain!

Wash your kitchen floor every two weeks, dirty or not.


Grandma’s secrets for hair, fashion, decorating, and shopping!

In her long reign as Parma’s “Martha Stewart,” Grandma K has come up with some grand ideas about hair, fashion, and decorating.

Hair: Out in the wind or rain?  Avoid that windblown look and stay dry by wearing a Parma plastic rain bonnet.  It will maintain your coiffure indefinitely.

Need to maintain your coiffure?  Sleep on a silk pillow case and/or roll your head in toilet paper.

Wash your hair once a week whether it needs it or not and tease it to maintain its shape until you wash it again.

Change your shampoo every week.

Keep your life easy; never, ever change your hairdo.  It’s easier that way.

After styling, use “Aqua Net,” the premier hairspray, to keep it looking nice.

Fashion:  This is the easiest! Mix plaids, colors, stipes, etc.  If your kids are embarrassed, so what!  Match what you like and set your own style.

Decorating:  Surround yourself in the house with cutesy, kitsch figurines and fake flowers.

Clutter your home…then when you remove it you will feel better.

Bring the garden into your home…have lots of house plants.  Enjoy their colors, especially during the winter.

Shopping:  Bargains, bargains, bargains!  Even buy things when you don’t need them because they are on sale!

Buy ornaments and knick-knacks that are on sale.  Give as gifts.

Disregard writing on these gifts like “Baby’s First Christmas” and give to anyone!  It’s the thought that counts!  The beauty of the object is of prime importance, not the statement on the decoration!

Betty’s inside views on appliances, technology, cars, and household repairs

Appliances:  Need a new one?  Save money and wait until the original one goes!  Given a new appliance as a gift?  Don’t use until the old one goes.  Keep it in its box until you need it!

Technology: A man landed on the moon?  Poppycock! It was staged in a Hollywood studio.  Computers?  Forget it…they just make life difficult.  Pictures?  Buy cameras that you get deals on.  Fill out that form in the magazine and send it in.  Keep more than one camera around, so many that you cannot remember how any of them work.  When you take pictures, forget to take off the lens cap.  You can entertain people this way.  And don’t forget to take all the time you want when taking photos, you are entitled!

Cars:  Let a man drive your car periodically and let him “railroad” it.  This will help keep the carbon from gunking up the engine and prevent your car from being an old lady’s car that conks out all the time.

Maintain your cars, don’t use the indicator lights, they will wear out.  Do the same for the brakes.  You’ll be amazed how much money you will save.

Driving?  Stop signs are great, but don’t stop, just glide through and save the brakes. 

Household repairs:  Small repairs needed?  Do the “shoemaker” job and just get it done.  Improvise.

Tired of waiting for someone to help out?  Take matters into your own hands, climb up into weird places that you cannot get down from. It is a great conversation piece.

The bedroom, in-laws, and the health craze

The bedroom: Wear pajamas in bed.  People who sleep in the nude get unnecessary oils all over their sheets!

Air out your beds. Turn your mattress every month and flip it over as well.

Change your room periodically; move the bed and dresser, you’ll enjoy the change.

The in-laws:  Do like your sister-in-law, to make dishwashing easy, don’t stack plates on top of each other, then you won’t have to wash both sides.

Don’t serve more than one burger to a person, serve each person one large on.

Problems with your in-laws?  Don’t tell them, tell your children.

The health craze:  It’s all a crock.  If you do your daily work, you won’t need it.  For exercise, I use my trike!

Miscellaneous info to make your life a dream!

Entertainment:  When you are in the $1.50 movie theatre and the show is X-rated or bad, stay!  You paid for it, after all.  Remember Madonna and “Truth or Dare?”

Dance, dance, dance till you drop!

Baby Care :  Put mittens on their hands to keep them from sucking their thumbs.

Babies getting cold?  Tie down their blankets so they don’t get out from under their covers.

Keep babies on a schedule, life is easier for them (and for you)!

Advice to daughter-in-law:  nursing babies is not good.  How do you know if they are getting enough milk?

Finance:  Don’t use direct payments, you’ll be cheated!

Pay your utilities at the local bank or store.  Don’t do it unless there are no fees.

Pay off your charge cards completely each month.

Politics and Philosophy:  Never, never, never say anything that is politically correct.

Always vote as a Democrat!

Confess to the belief that you are perfect, more people will respect you.

Steer clear of the neighbors; if you get close, it can cause problems.  Your neighbors may think you’re after their husbands.

Money Saving:  Save hand soap, remove the wrappers and place in a shoebox in your linen closet.  The soap will last longer and your linens will smell great. Place bars between the sheets on the beds of the guest rooms.  They will provide great smelling beds and amusement as your guests search out the soap!

Is your mattress too soft?  Place a piece of plywood between the mattress and box springs.

Leftover pieces of hand soap?  Put them in a jar with some water and make new bars of soap or cook and make the soap into soft soap.

Cover your sofas and chairs to keep them clean.

Buy industrial strength carpeting and you’ll never have to replace it!

Always buy on sale.  Use coupons.  Travel long distances to get bargains.

Really miscellaneous: Different clocks in the house?  Make sure they all chime at different times.  You will enjoy them more.

Always, always, always maintain the ability to laugh at yourself.  It makes life easier!


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