Amy's grandmothers have also played an important part in the building of Amy's Kitchen. Her grandmother Clarice (Andy's mother) hailed from Chicago where Andy was born. Clarice, who lived on her own until her death in February 2009 at the age of 96, helped grow the business in Chicago by talking to stores and urging them to stock Amy's products when the company was just starting. Were it not for her purchase and subsequent lease to the company of one of the first pieces of equipment, the young company would not have been able meet the increasing demand for their products. Most importantly, having been an excellent cook herself, she instilled in Andy an appreciation for good cooking that has helped inspire his choice of products for Amy's Kitchen. Clarice and her husband, Milt, also shared an innate facility with numbers, which they passed on to their son…a vital trait in any successful entrepreneur.
My grandmother on my father's side is an amazing woman. Her name is Clarice Saltiel, and this is her story. Well, some of her story...you can't really condense someone's life onto a page, can you? But here's my best shot.
My grandma Clarice was Born in Akron, Ohio, in 1912 and moved to Chicago, Il when she was 14 years old. Her first claim to fame came at age 15 as the only female member of the Chicago Polar Bears. Each February, Clarice and the rest of the members would jump into the freezing cold waters of Lake Michigan. Their antics were always reported in the local newspaper.
Always a beautiful writer, the stories and poems my grandma wrote during her high school years were published in a book. Growing up, whenever I wrote something great and gave it to her to read, she would smile and say, "You know what family member you get your writing from, don't you?" Her fondest memories from her high school years were of the Sorority she belonged to and the 11 members that she became so close to. Those 11 girls remained in touch throughout their entire lives. Although many of the members have since passed away, and age and distance keep the rest from seeing each other physically, there are still five remaining women, including my grandma, who stay in close contact by phone.
Grandma Clarice was also a great actress. She acted in the local, amateur theater in Chicago, and upon graduation from high school, she was encouraged to move to New York so that she could perform there. She decided against it. And, instead, she attended the Pierson School of Business and the Chicago Musical School (now part of Roosevelt University). All the while, she performed with the Noble Cain A Cappella Choir where she performed on NBC’s Sunday afternoon show, “Immortal Dramas”.
As if writing, acting, business, and music weren't enough, after college, Clarice enrolled in flying lessons where she hoped to become a pilot and to fly during World War II. She never graduated, and instead, married my grandfather, Milton Berliner, and gave birth first to my uncle Billy and then to my dad, Andy.
While raising these two wild boys (you should hear the stories my dad tells of mischief and mayhem), Clarice was chairperson of the Conservation and Safety Committee for the Roger’s Park and Edgewater areas of Chicago during the administration of the first mayor Richard Daley. Known for wearing elegant hats she was often spotted on the pages of the newspaper donning her latest chapeau. Throughout my life, going through her closet has been one of my favorite past-times...her taste is timeless and I have worn some of the dresses and shoes from her youth to my own formals.
After the kids had grown up and while working for the family cosmetics business in Chicago, Clarice taught weekend classes at Ohio State University in Mind Dynamics (brilliance on top of everything else?).
My grandma has always been fond of cooking. Her baked goods were always popular with the neighborhood and she kept two stocked freezers for spontaneous entertaining. Once, the principal of my dad's school called to see if she could host a last minute party for 75 people. Clarice pulled it off without a hitch at her own house in only a few hours.
Although she is now 94 years old, she is sharp as a tack and often reminds me and my family of things we have forgotten. She still stays fashionable and when people guess her age, they often say, "70?" and then almost keel over backwards when they find out that she is 94. She still gets asked on dates, which she kindly declines.
Grandma Clarice was there at the start of Amy’s Kitchen when I was still in diapers. She helped spread the word in Chicago and the rest of the midwest about the great new dishes that were being made. Today, she lives close to me and my family in Petaluma, California. This busy and accomplished woman may have slowed down to relax a bit with age, but, she still enjoys cooking. She especially loves cooking with Amy’s pasta Sauces. I encourage her to cook by eating her delicious dishes. Of course, I don't mind either