One day I’m going to do a graphic novel about my parents, and it’s going to be called THE GAS GIRL AND THE RODEO RIDER. The Rodeo Rider part of the title we’ll save for another day, but the Gas Girl, I can explain now.
When my mom was young, she wanted to be Betty Newton. Betty Newton was the Martha Stewart of her day–only she wasn’t an actual person. See, the Ohio Fuel Gas Company was looking for a way to get consumers to switch to gas appliances, so they sent out home economists to demonstrate cooking techniques on gas ranges. (Gas girls!) And each of these gas girls went by the pseudonym, Betty Newton. Betty Newton would show up to your door or your 4-H club in her pinafore and show you how to cook with gas.
Ok, so here’s the treasure I mentioned yesterday:
“To Your Kitchen From Mine,” was a recipe booklet put out by the Ohio Fuel Gas Company in 1961. Its goal was to enlighten home owners about the advantages of cooking with gas versus electricity. It’s author? Betty Newton.
Check out Betty with her gas range:
And check out these great line drawings that accompany the recipes:
If anybody knows anything more about Betty Newton girls…please share! I found this little snippet from a son’s eulogy for his mother, but there’s no way to tell whether the story is true or not:
…because her father worked for the Ohio Fuel Gas Company, he secured for her a plumb job which was being a ‘Betty Newton’ girl. Betty Newton girls were hired to visit the homes of customers who had just had new gas ranges installed, to make sure they were happy and familiar with all the features of their new appliance.
My mother told me about the day she was sent on a residence call which turned out to be a genuine house of ill-repute…[she] knocked upon the door, which was answered by the madam, while languorous ladies lounged in the background, and innocently inquired if she could show her how to get the most out of her range. That was a day, my mother said, when scales of innocence fell from her eyes. It was also a day when, once news of the incident got back to the company, the practice of sending out Betty Newton girls was immediately suspended.