Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Wolfe
by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe

My friend for nearly 30 years, Erma Bombeck, passed away last month.  She requested that her gravestone epitaph read:  “Big deal!  I’m used to dust.”

She was my mentor and provided free advice in raising my three sons, now 32, 31, and 27 years of age.  She proved that joy and laughter are indispensable to emotional and spiritual well-being.  To make others laugh is indeed a talent.

In her inimitable witty style, she got me through my kids’ Terrible Twos, Shmootzy Threes, I an Do It Myself Fours and Know It All Fives. Her 500-600 word columns and books assisted with handling the middle child syndrome, SAT preparation, college selection and wedding bell blues.  She was my combination Avon Lady/Fuller Brush Person, dispensing advice: “Housework can kill you if done right.”

“The Rose Bowl is the only bowl I’ve ever seen that I didn’t have to clean.”

Erma taught me how to burp Suckerware (Tupperware) and how to cure Root Rot Nematode (a lawn disease).  She also educated in handling septic tank problems in suburbia—Hang a sign on the front door which reads:  “Out of order!  Please use house next door.”

During my Bad Hair Days (BHD) she comforted me:  “There are certain things a woman simply canot do with dirty hair.  She cannot give birth, be married, drop off a child in public, stay at the scene of an accident or answer the phone with her husband’s old girlfriend on the line.  She also said, “Beware of hairdressers who do not allow you to face the mirror while they are cutting your hair.  A bad haircut grows at a rate of half an inch every three years.”

Erma didn’t teach me that platform shoes keep young girls off the streets.  Way off the streets. She didn’t advise me that “there will be no change in men’s pockets this year.”  But she did provide a smorgasbord of fashion news in her latestbook, “All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned in Loehmann’s Dressing Room.”

“There is good news and bad news. The clothes I just bought have gone out of style, but my car has beocome a classic.”

“It’s every woman’s nightmare…dying whle she still has a credit line on her Visa.”

Over the years, I’ve tried many of Erma’s diets, including the Vinegar-Kelp Diet and the Fat Picture on the Door Diet, and I’ve mumbled, “Bless me Jean Nidetch for I have sinned.” Like Erma, I, too, flushed a Twinkie down the john to please Jack LaLanne.

Dr. Haim G. Ginott said (in 1965), “Conversing with children is a unique art with rules and meanings of its own.”  Erma wrote (in 1972) that"Bwee, no hah noo” means “I have to go to the bathroom,”  “I want a cookie,” “There’s a policeman at the door,” or “I am floating Mommy’s $40 orthopedic shoes in the john”

Ginott also wrote, “If death is a riddle to adults, to children it is an enigma veiled in mystery. The young child cannot comprehend that death is permanent.”  Erma knew how to handle this problem:  she
conducted poignant services for deceased guppies at the toilet bowl or, as she put it, the Heavenly Aquarium.  She told her children that Captain Ty-D-Bowl would guide the dead guppies to that “big sewer in the sky.”

Apparntly Ms. Bombeck was not even on the entrance ramp to the information Superhighway.  Did she feel guilty? No!  She stated that “Shakespeare never had a fax machine…and Ed McMahon never faxes; he comes to your home in person with a check and a camera crew.”  She also believed that beepers were the “designer jewelry of the nineties.”  If she were on the Internet, her Web
site address would probaby have been (

Erma, your millions of fans will miss you.


This article appeared in Short Stuff magazine in 1996.

Marjorie Wolfe
  Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe