Lucrezia Borgias of the Skillet
( Originally Published 1956 )
WOMAN CONFESSES POISONING SEVERAL HUSBANDS!
THIS was the shocking headline of a few months ago. "I gave each one of them a real nice funeral," said the widow. "I don't think they minded it so much. You see, I fixed them all tasty dinners before they went. Just sort of let them gorge themselves to death on my good cooking."
Good cooking . . . spiced with poison!
Her matrimonial career made what editors call a wonderful "tea chat" or bridge table item. But how many of the women who expressed their disapproval of this woman's con-duct are also killing off their husbands—more slowly, more insidiously perhaps—by stuffing their bodies with the wrong foods . . . and driving them to mental and physical exhaustion?
Any judge would have told this modern Lucrezia Borgia that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Yet what excuse can be given by the woman who kills off her husband by over-stuffing him with "good cooking"—spiced with the poison of hydrogenated fats, white sugar, and white flour? Or by causing him to overwork his heart to satisfy her demands? She has no valid excuse!
Is she ignorant of the laws of nutrition? If she values her husband, she must learn how to feed him—or she probably won't have him for long.
Today there are ten million widows in the United States, and by 196o the excess of women over men in the nation will grow from 1,500,000 to 2,500,000. America has almost twice the number of widows that it should have.
Fifty-one is the average age at which women begin their years of widowhood. That means about twenty-five years of living alone—and seldom liking it. Lives there a woman with soul so dead that she doesn't harbor the notion of finding a second husband? There's no harm in doing a little wishful thinking. But after these women reach the age of forty-five, just 2 out of to find another husband. This slim chance lessens with each passing year.
In 1920 the mortality rate for men between forty-five and fifty-four years of age was only to per cent higher than that of women. Since then, the mortality for husbands has in-creased 78 per cent.
Many a woman has sent her husband to an early grave because, among other things she tried to get him to keep up with her spending. Often, as he became more successful, she turned into a money-spending machine and thought of her husband only as a money-making machine.
It is a mechanical age, but that's going a little too far.
The man who used to be the head of the house has become the cook, the bottle washer, chauffeur, gardener, delivery boy, and laundress. He still brings home the bacon. But now he has to cook it and wash up the dishes.
Kenneth Fink, director of the Princeton Research Service, discovered that in New York 87 per cent of the young husbands help with the housework. The Gallup Poll tell us that 62 per cent of American men wash the dishes and 40 per cent help with the housework—and cooking.
Men fought for shorter workweeks until they got them.
"Now," one said to another, "we'll have time to enjoy our-selves. Get away from the grind. Go fishing on Saturday, play a little golf Sunday. What's to stop us?"
Sure, you have longer weekends—to clean out the cellar, fix the screens, paint the shutters, or perform some do-it-yourself miracle that the husband next door has already done for his wife— "Why can't you do the same thing for me?"
One of the real experts in husband killing wrote an article recently for a woman's magazine telling how considerate husbands serve breakfast in bed to their tired wives.
James Carter was one of these considerate husbands. He served his wife breakfast in bed and tried to fit into her Prince Charming pattern by making enough money to supply her greed for material things. But, before they were financially able, she insisted that they buy a home out in the suburbs. A two-bedroom Cape Cod or ranch house wasn't good enough for her, so they ended up buying a $25,000 split-level, which required domestic help as well as high payments.
Jim was working as publicity director for the local baseball team at the time they moved to the country. After a late evening with the team, he still had to make a long trip home. He got up early every morning to spend as much time as possible with his family. Consequently he was always tired, always starved for sleep—and always promising himself that he'd get a nap sometime and catch up.
"I don't like it, Jim," Helen told him. "I don't like it a bit. What kind of a social life do we have? You're never home in the evening in time for us to go anywhere. You've just got to change your hours!"
Jim couldn't change his hours, so to please his wife he changed his job. He gave up the work he liked and became sales manager for a TV station. His physical condition was such that he couldn't adjust to the pressure of the new job. When staff cuts were made he was found expendable by the station.
Out of work, weighed down by the upkeep of his family and the expensive home, Jim took two newspaper desk jobs, working one at night and the other during the day. Then, to make up for having to let the maid go, Jim helped out at home.
"A man doesn't consider himself a failure until his wife thinks so" is an old saying. Helen lost no time in convincing Jim of his failure. To prove his worth, he worked harder than ever.
Succeeding attacks of acute indigestion finally sent Jim to the doctor. He was told that his heart strain and blood pressure were reaching the dangerous stage.
"It's suicide for you to go on this way" was the verdict. Knowing something of Jim's difficulties with his wife, the doctor insisted on warning her as well.
"The doctor's probably an old crank," Jim reassured his wife. "I'm as strong as I ever was." And he increased his schedule to prove it to her.
One night he came home and barely made it to the door—where he dropped dead of a heart attack. His wife became a widow at thirty-five.
Life insurance statistics reveal that thousands of men die before their time—men who could have been saved if their wives had taken their responsibilities more seriously! Marriage was designed to give the woman the responsibility for the well-being of her husband and children.
Wives have increased their own widowhood expectancy. By 1975, women sixty-five and over will outnumber men 3 to 2. The gap between the life expectation of a man and that of a woman has doubled in the last twenty-five years. Practically everything today kills more men than it does women, except diabetes. And, of course, childbirth!
Many male deaths result from overstrain. A wife can't initiate perpetual motion in her husband's body, although many of them seem to think they can.
The American man is particularly sensitive regarding his ability to "take it." His Achilles' heel is his reputation for masculinity. Dr. C. Ward Crampton, chairman, subcommittee on geriatrics and gerontology, Medical Society of New York County, says: "The common reason for the quick death of men past fifty is their daily behavior, their terrible anxiety that prompts them to show themselves as being masculine and tough."
They go to such lengths to demonstrate their hair-on-thechest masculinity that they destroy themselves in the process. "Live dangerously!" That philosophy has captured the public's imagination. Follow such foolhardy advice and tragedy results. Instead: "Live sensibly, moderately, leisurely—and long!"
Each man has some of the little boy show-off in him. He'll go through that eighteen rounds of golf when the temperature is 10o degrees if it kills him. And it generally does.
A man will try to hide his illness behind the popular pain-killers: aspirin, cold pills, pocket inhalants. He'll keep on working, with the props of coffee and alcohol, when he has a cold or indigestion. He hates to admit fatigue. When his wife keeps him up late at night and he has to get up early the next morning, he will deny that he's tired.
Which is the stronger sex? Decidedly not men! The American Medical Association reports: "Daily counts show that more men than women are hospitalized. The number of men [in hospitals] exceed women by 13,000 daily even during the women's child-bearing years. In the years between 45 and 64, the excess of men rises to over 51,000 daily."
Men set up false tests of virility for themselves. They conceal their emotions, hide their tensions, and ignore their in-juries. They also overeat.
As a boy, you took that second or third helping because you were growing. As an adult and far less active, you dam-age your health by eating too much. And by eating the wrong kind of food.
Women have learned to take better care of themselves, than formerly, but they haven't yet learned to take better care of their men. The death rate for men from cardiovascular and renal diseases during the age period forty-five to fifty-four has increased more than 3o per cent in the past thirty years. During the same period it has decreased among women.
Peptic ulcer has a similar high mortality rate for men. Ulcers occur in 4 to 8 times as many men as women. Duodenal ulcers kill 7 times more men than women.
Dr. Benjamin D. Paul, of Harvard University, has graphically described how American women are incubating an epidemic of ulcers among their men. He blames social climbing —keeping up with the Joneses—for the ulcer-breeding male anxiety. Women drive their husbands into nervous disorders and chronic disease by their female lust for luxuries.
Wives must face the truth and their responsibilities therein: husbands are dying four times as fast as wives.
Man has a dynamic nature and needs physical activity. Con-fined to a desk every day by necessity, he is unable to escape the effects of frustration and tension. Did you ever see a man burst into a flood of tears or have hysterics? No. It might be better for him if he did. Instead, he seethes inwardly, which brings on a stress ailment—heart disease, high blood pressure, or ulcers.
When a man seeks his sofa or hammock on weekends, he is dangerously tired. He is being driven into premature aging by the strain and exhaustion caused by the demands of his ignorant or neglectful wife. With encouragement and help from his wife the average man can reach his retirement age without being five to ten years older than he needs to be.
Man struts across the stage of life with flexed muscles, proud talk, and a sense of sex superiority. Nature knows better: she produces more male babies than female.
Mortality statistics prove that the human male, compared to the female, is a fragile creature. Yet, a wife will encourage her husband's bravado and false courage, his disregard of the dangers that will take his life.
For instance: Men succumb twice as frequently as women to infectious and parasitic diseases. Thirty per cent more men die from disease of the heart and of the circulatory and respiratory systems. Sixty per cent more yearly suffer violent accidental death.
It's the wife who sends her husband away from home in the morning unhappy, tense, and accident-prone, to function so badly that he may be killed or injured in an accident.
The nagging wife, the demanding wife, kills her husband just a little bit every day. The clinging-vine wife burdens her husband with responsibilities and restrains him from ever risking achievement.
At the time when a man needs his wife the most she is often so busy being a mother that she's forgotten how to be a wife. She even causes her husband to lose respect in the eyes of the children.
There's the story of the little boy who asked his mother: "The Lord gives us our daily bread, doesn't He, Mama?" "Yes, of course He does," answered the mother.
The child continued: "And Santa Claus brings the presents, doesn't he?"
"And the stork brings the babies?"
"Well, what's Papa hanging around here for?"
Children grow up the happiest when they are loved and shared by both parents. The child who has the most difficult time adjusting to life is the one who receives his affection from one parent only.
Love is still important when it can no longer produce children. It is the continuing expression of a woman's long affection for her husband.
The late Dr. Martin Gumpert, a famous geriatrician, once said: "The sex frustration that some men suffer in their 40's, 50's and 60's, due to their wife's refusal to share their sexual love, can create serious tension and may even lead to many illnesses."
A wife who really loves her husband will wage an all-out war on every type of tension. If she's tempted to complain about money, let her stop and ask herself: "Do I really love my husband—or just what he can do for me? Did I truly take him for better or worse—or only better?" All wives should learn money management, since they are the ones who spend 8o per cent of the family budget.
Dr. Raymond Pearl, a biologist, proposes that the home be a center of affection, a refuge from the troubles that surround the husband, offering a daily escape into tranquillity and serenity. The kind of home that will allow a husband to achieve a happy old age with a tranquil heart, a calm outlook, a serene disposition, and a loving wife.
How many couples learn to share the things they love, rather than quarrel about the things they hate? If a wife quarrels with her husband and is tempted to hurl bitter, scornful words at him, she would be wise to remember the advice of a famous psychiatrist to an angry wife: "Don't nurse your wounds. Nurse his. Forget the bitterness, and remember the times he got up with the children at night, his concern and tenderness when you were sick. Think of his struggles, his disappointments and you'll forget your own."
Too many marriages are like the one in which hubby sneaked home at 3 A.M. and found an irate wife waiting for him at the door. "So, home is the best place, after all!" she said.
"I don't know about that, he replied, "but it's the only place open."
A man should be allowed to relax in his home, to spend time in recreation, and to cultivate a hobby for his fulfillment in later years.
Couples should develop new, mutual interests. A wife should encourage her husband to get his troubles off his chest. She should be an understanding, sympathetic listener—and admirer. Any husband who comes home to such a wife is bound to feel that she's the best thing that ever happened to him.
What's more, he will come home—every night.
The difference between the male and female mortality rate in the age group thirty-five to sixty-five—the man's most productive working period—is frightening enough to impel the wife to see that her husband receives frequent physical examinations and adequate hospitalization when it is required.
They should get at least as much rest and medical attention as their wives if not more.
Dr. Alvin F. Shapiro, of the University of Texas, says: "Emotional factors influence the blood pressure so greatly that the actual effects of the new hypotensive drugs are difficult to determine."
To what extent do women influence their husbands' health? Men with hypertension often have to be hospitalized to get them away from their wives and environmental pressures.
The older a man gets, the better-quality food he needs to keep him trim and healthy. His metabolism rate slows down, and consequently he needs less of the fuel foods. Fats, sugars, and starches clog up his arteries and make him overweight. The overweights die off twice as fast as their thin brothers.
Dr. Norman Jolliffe, of New York City, estimates that of the thirty-eight million husbands now living, at least fourteen million will die of heart and artery disease-most of them led to their slaughter by way of the kitchen.
Fatty degeneration of the blood vessels occurs in thin men as well as the overweight. If you're the type who eats every-thing and "never puts on a pound," you may have the troublesome faculty of depositing fat, not where it can be seen, but hidden in various parts of your body. No man, fat or thin, can take the chance of eating fatty meals.
Dr. Ancel Keys of the University of Minnesota, notes that many Italian men are definitely overweight, yet the death rate from heart disease among Italian males is only one-third that of American men. The Italians' overweight comes from their starch calories. The heart difficulties that kill our men are due to their high fat consumption.
Since women largely determine what the family eats, they can help stem the tide of rising coronary deaths in their men.
How much nutritional knowledge has the wife who feeds her husband three-quarters of a cup of fat daily in the form of fried meats, fried eggs, French fried ,potatoes, doughnuts, rich desserts, and other fatty foods?
These wives are the Lucrezia Borgias of the skillet!
In their skillets they mix a poison of indigestible, cholesterol-forming, blood-vessel-clogging foods that will induce coronary thrombosis and other killing ailments in even a healthy man.
Those belt-stretching foods your wife feeds you are low in vitamins, minerals, and proteins—the kind that keep you alive. Your fuel-food content must vary according to the amount of your activity, but your body-building protein content must remain the same: 100 grams a day.
Dr. Louis N. Katz, of Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital, says: "The incidence of atherosclerosis is lower in men who consume foods rich in protein and low in neutral fat .. . alterations in diet may help to prevent coronary artery disease."
As Dr. Katz explains it: "Despite wide individual variation within population groups, ingestion of a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet is prerequisite to the development of atherosclerosis. Individual factors determine the progress and extent of the disease once the cholesterol trigger mechanism is established."
Some of the foods which your wife should never serve you are: cream soups, pork and other very fat meats, fat fish, fish eggs, oysters, excessive butter or butter substitutes, hot breads, pancakes, waffles, coffeecake, muffins, doughnuts, creamy desserts, rich cakes or cookies, salad dressings, rich gravies, olives, nuts, or avocados. These are high-fat, high-cholesterol foods.
She still can serve you a variety of foods which will trim your waistline and discourage atherosclerosis. These include-Soups. Bouillon, fat-free vegetable soups, and vegetable broths.
Lean meats, fish, and poultry. Broiled, roasted, baked, or boiled.
Eggs. Limit these to two a day, including those used in cooking.
Milk and milk products. One pint or more of skimmed milk or buttermilk (don't use whole milk), dry cottage cheese.
Vegetables. All, cooked or raw, especially the green and yellow vegetables rich in vitamin A—beet greens, chard, carrots, kale, and mustard greens.
Fruits. All, raw, cooked, dried, or canned. Use citrus fruits or tomatoes daily.
Salads. Any fruit or vegetable salad, raw or cooked, and gelatin salads. Serve with boiled or low-fat dressings, for example, one of lemon juice, herb-vinegar, and spices. The juice from canned okra makes a satisfactory substitute for oils in salads.
Cereals. Millet seed porridge for a cooked cereal; new protein dry cereals.
Bread. Whole wheat, oatmeal, or rye (but only if you must).
Desserts. Fruits, junket puddings made with skimmed milk and without egg yolks (unless you have not had your limit of two eggs for this day), fruit whips made with skim milk powder, and gelatin desserts.
Concentrated sweets. Honey candies, pure maple syrup, and jams and jellies (made with pure fruits and honey or raw sugar).
Beverages. Tea, coffee, powdered skim milk, tomato juice, fruit or vegetable juices.
You see, your wife can serve you a diet that will be a pleasure to eat, and you'll have no feeling of guilt because of overeating, and no hidden hunger. By serving these foods with their plentiful supply of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, your wife can make your meals into an adventure in good eating.
Very few husbands can laugh about the burden of fat as does Jackie Gleason—who even eats spaghetti for breakfast.
Food-skimping wives are, of course, health-foolish wives. They increase the carbohydrates in your diet and deprive you of body-building protein. The meatless dinners that your wife serves are not dreamed up by any nutritionist; but by chain store executives, eager to sell their beans and macaroni.
You should eat a minimum of 70 grams of protein a day, more if you're working under stress. It isn't your pocketbook that limits your daily supply. It's your wife's lack of knowledge about ways of securing this valuable food inexpensively.
By using dried skim milk powder in food preparation and as a family beverage, she could add to your regular diet a third of the 100 grams of protein that I recommend for the maintenance of your health. She needn't stint on this powdered skim milk. It is inexpensive enough to be used lavishly.
There are now protein dry cereals. But you would be much better fed with the less costly cooked protein cereal made from millet seed. Millet seed is nearly 25 per cent biologically complete protein. It also contains lecithin (so necessary to every man!) and is rich in minerals and vitamins, especially the vitamins A and B1. It should be cooked as a porridge or a gruel-1 part seeds to 4 parts liquid. Millet seeds are sold in health food stores.
What about the cheaper cuts of meat? It's all in the cooking. They can be made tender and palatable by cooking them slowly at low temperature. Or marinate them and make use of your barbecue.
"I do the best I can," you wives may protest. "But my husband won't eat what's good for him!"
Then, it's up to you to train him. Gently, persuasively, and with imagination. If he won't take care of himself, you'd better take care of him. It's part of your job! Are you women going to keep on shirking it?
It may not be easy, but neither is your husband's job. And don't blame producers of high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods with their tempting ads for leading you astray. Learn enough dietary facts to know how deadly these foods are to your husband.
"But I can't stand guard over my husband at noon," you complain, "just to see that he doesn't go on a ditchdigger's calorie spree! What do you expect me to do?"
I expect you to see that he gets a good breakfast full of protein, which will cut down on his noon hunger. And you can be sure that he gets a full quota of protective foods at his dinner table.
Company officials now make it a point to interview the wife of a prospective executive. Personnel managers are well aware how much of an asset, or liability, a wife can be in her husband's development.
Which are you . . . an asset . . . or a liability?
Robert C. Ruark says that American wives terrify their husbands. "The American male," he says, "lives and actually wriggles under the lash of wifely disapproval."
And what illogical disapproval. They can always recognize faults in their husbands, but, as one spoiled wife said, "Of course, I could see my own faults, too—if I had any!"
Perhaps one of the worst types is the know-it-all wife. She knows more than her husband, naturally. She knows all about everything—except how to make her husband happy and keep him healthy. And, too often, the poor man is afraid to fight for his domestic rights, because he's been born and bred on the assumption that mom is always right and dad is always wrong.
Dr. Edward J. Stieglitz, a leading geriatician in Washing-ton, D. C., says: "The most critical phase of aging comes in the two decades from forty to sixty. The balanced life calls for work 20 per cent of the time, with 30 per cent for sleep and the balance for leisure activities."
A wife should realize that as she and her husband grow older, the greater becomes the contrast in the demands that life makes on them. As her children grow up, a wife has less responsibility. But each year her husband has to work harder and harder as both home and job pile up ever more responsibility. He feels forced to make more money at the very time when he should be letting up a little.
Mrs. Walter Ferguson wrote in the New York World Telegram: "We hear that scientists are working to see if they can find out what is killing off so many men in the prime of life. That's a real easy one. It's the women.
"We aren't doing it on purpose, of course. We love our men and are worried about their shortened life span. But we also love having mink coats, air-conditioned cars, large houses with lovely gardens, stylish clothes and all the latest gadgets for the kitchen. It's killing the men to supply them. The pressure of getting `things' for their women and gratifying their own material wants puts them in a rat race."
American women, with their demands, encourage their men to kill themselves. And that's what it is—deliberate, unnecessary suicide, just as surely as if each man put a gun to his heart and pulled the trigger.
It's time to do something about it. We must stop this lop-sided increase in longevity. You wives must decide whether you'd rather keep your husband—or keep up with the Joneses.
Besides dedicating herself to the necessity of watching over her husband's health, a wife should make his home life more fun. Don't burden him with all the neighborhood back-biting. Give him a chance to unload his problems. Be sure that his activity is balanced with plenty of rest. Make him feel important. See that the children respect him, and let him know that he's loved by all of you. Let him know that he's still attractive to you and watch the glow that comes into his eyes when he realizes that he's appreciated—see the relaxed tenderness of his face.
This should be a wife's hobby . . . and her greatest happiness.