top of page

The Damn Yankee

(by Adele L. Kellman)

My parents were raised in relatively privileged homes, but their WASPy families, one from Alabama, the other from New Jersey, believed that once you were married, you supported yourselves. When my dad was offered a job as a buyer in ladies’ hats for a New Orleans department store, a wedding was quickly arranged. My mom (that “damn Yankee” in the eyes of my father’s family) was delighted that people might think their hasty marriage and move to a faraway place meant that she was pregnant (she wasn’t). I was born four years later.

Although they came from different places, my parents shared the same traditional assumptions about their roles. She would not work outside the home, except to help in his business, because, as she explained to me, a working wife undercut the husband’s “drive.” Since my mother suffered from serious depressions that started when I was born, I questioned the wisdom of this marital ideal.

My mother was in charge of our meals, and she became accomplished at it, but even though The Joy of Cooking was a Bible in our house