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New memoir 'Love, Sex and 4-H' explores growing up in rural Michigan in the 60's

May 4, 2015

Anne-Marie Oomen writes essays, memoirs and poetry. She teaches creative writing at Interlochen's College of Creative Arts.
Credit Don Shikoshi

In her latest memoir, writer Anne-Marie Oomen takes us back to growing up in the turbulent 1960’s on a her family’s Michigan farm. From school dances and sewing lessons to the Detroit riots and the Cuban missile crisis it’s all in her new book Love, Sex and 4-H. 

Growing up in rural Michigan, Oomen was a naïve farm girl. After sensing some rebellion from her 8-year-old daughter, Oomen’s mother enrolls her in the 4-H Club. “My mom was the leader. That meant I couldn’t get away with anything.”

“The entire family participated in the club for all the years that we were growing up. And some of my brothers were into the animals and my sisters into horsemanship, and you know, prize-winning pumpkins and all that sort of thing … I was taught to make jams and jellies and also to make my own clothing,” said Oomen.

It was the 1960’s, and the role women played at home and at work was rapidly changing. Oomen writes about the dresses she made by hand.

“Everything was changing very, very quickly and part of what I try to do in the book is make those dresses emblematic of the changing time and the era.”

For example, the first real outfit she makes is a very conservative sailor outfit modeled after one of the Jackie Kennedy outfits she wore at Hyannis Port, according to Oomen. “The final thing that I made was a psychedelic rainbow-colored dress that started out as a mid-calf midi and I shorten it to a mini semi-formal and it was just out there – struttin'.”

The book is available here. And you can visit Oomen's website here