Follow Us On:


Posted on Wednesday, January 31, 2024 at 8:00 am

Musings and Memories

By Doug Dezotell

I grew up surrounded by Tupperware.

My mother was a Tupperware sales-woman, and she had all sorts of the plastic products stashed away in closets and in boxes throughout the house.

Of course our kitchen was well stocked with every type of bowl (with “burpable” lids), measuring cups and spoons, salt and pepper shakers, and quart sized pitchers for juice and other drinks.

It all started for Alpha Dezotell when she attended a Tupperware party in the home of a friend. She won a door-prize and made a purchase of a few of the plastic items for our kitchen.

And then Mom hosted a Tupperware party at our house. She received a number of the company’s hottest items as a gift for hosting the party.

Mom was a widow by that time and she was always looking for ways to earn a living so she could support her family.

My father died on December 24, 1963. It was Christmas Eve.

In January of ’64, Mom had to figure out a way to put food on the table without Fred Dezotell’s income from the University of North Dakota.

There were three of her five children living at home then. Our oldest brother, Bob Dezotell, was in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany.

Our oldest sister, Rita Brewer, was living on the campus of the University of North Dakota with her husband, Paul, and their two sons.

My sister, Cindi, and I were still in elementary school then; and our brother, Paul, was in junior high.

And Mom was panicking, not knowing what to do. How was she going to take care of her children?

She didn’t drive a car, and so she didn’t have a license to drive.

She had been a housewife for most of her twenty-five plus years of marriage to my father, and even though she had children and other family in the area, she felt so all alone.

Mom learned how to drive my dad’s Rambler that year.

She soon started a business cleaning other people’s houses; she took in people’s laundry; and she babysat for other families (interestingly enough, the people she cleaned and sat for became life-long friends).

And then Mom heard about Tupperware, and it wasn’t long and my mother became a top  Tupperware sales-person.

She was gone quite often throughout the week showing these “amazing additions to every woman’s kitchen.”

During the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of women across the country started their own home businesses selling Tupperware products.

And Mom became one of them. Earl Tupper had another “convert.”

It was during the 60s when Mom would gather groups of women together in someone’s living room for a Tupperware Home Party.

The hostesses made sure the parties were well stocked with punch and coffee, and cake and cookies.

Sometimes the women would put on funny party hats and play silly party games, and they would laugh and talk with each other about their lives, their families, and their homes.

Somewhere in the midst of the merry-making Mom would make her sales pitch, showing everybody these “amazing plastic products that no one could live without.”

Then they would pass around an order form to fill out, and they would make my mother a little more money.

Tupperware parties were more than lighthearted coffee klatches and socializing in someone’s living room though.

The party organizers were running thriving, woman-owned businesses all across the country: even in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where Alpha Dezotell and her children lived.

Mom, like the other women who participated in these Tupperware Home Parties, weren’t just stocking their kitchen cabinets in their homes, but they were actually experimenting with cutting-edge technology that helped food stay fresh for longer.

I grew up calling every plastic container “Tupperware.” I still find myself doing it from time to time.

Earl Tupper, the namesake of Tupperware, was an entrepreneur and businessman from Leominster, Massachusetts.

During the Great Depression, Tupper was hired on at a plastic factory. He was an ever-curious inventor, and he figured out a way to turn an industrial byproduct into a line of polyethylene plastic storage containers.

Tupper introduced Tupperware, the plastic bowls with lids that you “had to burp,” after World War II. He became aware of a single mother in Florida, by the name of Brownie Wise, who was “making a killing” selling his creation at parties in the living rooms of her friends’ homes, and then in her friends’ friends’ homes.

Earl Tupper teamed up with Brownie Wise, and soon Tupperware took off with an army of amateur salespeople (like my mom) who sold the innovative containers all across America.

Tupperware helped my mother make a living at a dark time in her life.

Mom was able to survive during hard times, and she helped her children thrive. Alpha Dezotell was a Proverbs 31 woman.

Here’s to all of you Proverbs 31 women out there.

Proverbs 31:14-28

14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet… 25 Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed….

A Proverbs 31 Woman does what it takes to care for her own. And she is called Blessed.

Alpha’s son, Doug Dezotell, serves as the pastor of Cannon UMC in Shelbyville, and he’s a columnist for the Bedford County Post. Doug can be contacted by phone at 931-607-5191 or by email at  Thank you for reading Doug’s “Musings and Memories;” and for reading the Bedford County Post.