Erma Bombeck say’s

November 22, 2012 in Super Inspirations

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.

Erma was born in Bellbrook, Ohio to a working-class family, and was raised in Dayton. Her father, Cassius Fiste, was the city crane operator; her mother’s name was also Erma. Young Erma lived with her elder paternal half-sister, Thelma. She began elementary school one year earlier than usual for her age, in 1932, and became an excellent student and an avid reader. She particularly enjoyed the popular humor writers of the time. After Erma’s father died in 1936, she moved, with her mother, into her grandmother’s home. In 1938 her mother remarried, to Albert Harris (a moving van owner). Erma practiced tap dance and singing, and was hired by a local radio for a children’s revue for eight years.

She was told by doctors that having a child was improbable, so they adopted a girl, Betsy, in 1953. Erma decided to become a full-time housewife, and relinquished her career as a journalist. During 1954, Erma nevertheless wrote a series of humorous columns in the Dayton Shopping News.

Despite the former difficult diagnoses, Erma Bombeck gave birth to a son, Andrew, in 1955. The Bombeck family moved to Centerville, Ohio, into a tract housing development, and were neighbors to the young Phil Donahue. Away from her previous journalistic career, Bombeck initiated an intense period of homemaking, which lasted 10 years, and had her second son, Matthew, in 1958.

In 1964, Erma Bombeck resumed her writing career for the local Kettering-Oakwood Times, with weekly columns which yielded $3 each. She wrote in her small bedroom, over a rustic table of a plank top with two supports of cinder block.

In 1965, the Dayton Journal Herald requested new humorous columns as well, and Bombeck agreed to write two weekly 450-word columns for $50. After three weeks, the articles went intonational syndication through the Newsday Newspaper Syndicate, into 36 major U.S. newspapers, with three weekly columns under the title “At Wit’s End”.

Bombeck quickly became a popular humorist nationwide. Beginning in 1966, she began doing lectures for a $15,000 fee in the various cities where her columns appeared. In 1967, her newspaper columns were compiled and published by Doubleday, under the title of At Wit’s End. And after a humorous appearance on Arthur Godfrey’s radio show, she became a regular radio guest on the show.

Erma Bombeck had been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (a congenital defect) when she was 20 years old, but managed to live most of her life without any problems from it. She had a mastectomy in 1992 after being diagnosed with breast cancer and in 1996, she was brought to a San Francisco hospital for a kidney transplant, which was performed on April 3, 1996. However, complications developed and she died on April 22, 1996, aged 69. Her remains are interred in the Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio, under a large rock from the Phoenix desert.

 

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