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  • Writer's pictureDonna Brown

Waiting rooms, magazines, Art Linkletter and more

courtesy photo

As I sat in the huge waiting room at Rothman, I had an hour to wait because my doctor was running behind. Six women were checking people in and there was barely an open seat.

Pleasantly surprised, no one was wearing a mask. I could see faces! Unfortunately, all I could really see was the top of heads because most people were on their phones.

One 50ish woman was reading a book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. Why hadn’t I brought a book? I searched for the magazine rack, but quickly realized that there are no magazines in waiting rooms anymore. What a pity. Over the years I have enjoyed the opportunity in doctors’ offices to peek inside periodicals I normally wouldn’t have purchased. I also have discovered magazines that have become my favorites.

As a child, I remember waiting in Dr. Crescenzo’s waiting room as I awaited my younger siblings as they had their teeth checked. I read Jack and Jill enjoying it so much that I subscribed to it for many years. There were puzzles, stories and best of all crafts to make.

They often offered advice on how to give a themed party and my neighborhood friends would huddle on our screen porch for days making construction paper hats and party favors of cardboard and crepe paper. We’d search our homes for Cracker Jack prizes to add to the favors. Then after baking cupcakes and opening a can of Hawaiian Punch we’d gather and celebrate. Great memories, all from a serendipitous meeting with a magazine in a dentist’s office.

I remember two other articles I read in different offices; articles I recall 40 years later. One was about a mother bear being killed by a car and the park rangers realizing she had a cub somewhere nearby. After searching, they found one lone cub in a den. They cared for the cub but wanted to give her to another mother to raise.

They located a mother hibernating with one baby. Unfortunately, a mother bear will reject a baby that doesn’t smell right. So, they decided to smear Vick’s Vapor Rub on the noses of mommy and babies. In the spring the rangers watched as she came happily out of her den with her two cubs, natural and adopted. I still admired that brave ranger who crawled with a slumbering bear.

The other article was about a town in Pennsylvania where every year the local fire company runs a fundraiser where they serve various dishes made with ground hog. I can’t remember the name of the town, but I am sure it wasn’t Punxsutawney. The article explained that old groundhogs won’t do. They must be under a year old, so they are tender.

The magazine offered a few recipes accompanied by photos of scrumptious looking dishes. Though my husband has shot numerous groundhogs in our garden, I’ve never had the inclination to sauté, deep fry or fricassee one. Before you run to Google, fricassee is just a fancy word for stew.

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Art Linkletter had a segment on his television show, “House Party” called ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things.’ He would ask children questions and wait for their unscripted answers. He came up with the idea when he asked his five-year-old son about his first day in kindergarten and recorded his answers. Art then played it on his 1945 evening radio show, “House Party.” The concept was well- received by the audience.

When the show went to television in 1952, he sought out Los Angeles area children who wouldn’t be intimidated by a TV studio. He asked local teachers to, “Pick the kids you’d like to have out of the classroom for a few hours.” The show was a daytime hit for 18 years.

I remembered Art Linkletter this week when my granddaughter, Ellie, and I were discussing weddings. She, by the way, loves everything about weddings. We discussed gowns, veils, cakes and decorations, then the conversation went on to people getting married in churches and secular places like the beach or in a barn.

I then told her that when her grandfather was mayor of Winslow Township, he married hundreds of people. She looked puzzled and asked, “Grumpy really married hundreds of people?” When I answered yes, she said with relief, “Wow, I am glad after all the other people he decided to stay married to you.”

• • • • •

Last night I went to a Paint and Sip fundraiser at GoMez Studio on 12th Street. As my friend and I painted a beach scene with flipflops and starfish, I realized that painting takes time and we barely had time to sip our wine and chat. A dozen women or so sat nearby and embraced a night out at the studio. I haven’t put a brush to canvas in decades and enjoyed the opportunity to be creative once again.

Donna Brown is a former Hammonton Middle School librarian and a columnist for The Gazette. To reach Donna Brown, send an email to


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