A Girl Named Zippy

A Girl Named Zippy ***** by Haven Kimmel

 Haven Kimmel, aka Zippy, tells her story about life in a small town~ Mooreland, Indiana, population 300, in early 70’s. Born in 1965, she chronicles her early years with her third-grade wisdom and observations that made me laugh out loud. There are pictures included in this book from an old photo album at the beginning of each chapter which led me to include some of my family photos, since I’m just a few years older than Zippy.

“Her daddy calls her ‘Zippy’ after a little chimpanzee he saw roller-skating on television. The monkey was first in one place and then zip! in another.”

On Zippy’s 2nd Birthday:

“Still no words from our little Zippy. She is otherwise a delight and a very sweet baby. I have turned her life over to God, to do with as He sees fit. I believe He must have a very special plan for her, because I’m sure that terrible staph infection in her ear that nearly killed her when she was a newborn must have, as the doctors feared, reached her brain. She is so quiet we hardly know she is here, and so unlike many of our friends, we can speak freely in front of her without fear she will repeat us. Little Becky Dawson walked up to Agnes Johnson in church last Sunday and called her Broad As A Barn. You know she heard that at home.”

Zippy’s first words were not spoken until four months before her third birthday. Her dad decided she had her bottle long enough and told her it was time to give it up. Her first words ever spoken:  “I’ll make a deal with you. If you let me keep it, I’ll hide it when company comes and I won’t tell no-body.” Her mother’s response, “Now that we know she can talk, all I can say is:  dear God. Please give that child some hair. Amen.”



The photo on the right was taken in 1966, when I was 5. My sister & I have birthdays two days apart (I am three years older) so we usually shared a birthday cake~ don’t you just love her smile? The photo on the left was taken in 1970 at my grandmother’s house and my brother is in this photo.

 There are lots of school experiences and friends Zippy mentions in this book:

In kindergarten, her end-of-the-year report card said:  “Is disruptive in class. Colors outside the lines. Talks out of turn.” When Zippy shows it to her parents, her mother says. “Good for you, sweetheart.” And her dad gives her a little pat on the back.

“I was disliked by all my teachers for reasons that were completely mysterious to me, but even in that dubious category, Dana excelled. She was disliked more passionately, sometimes even inciting our teachers to violence, which I had yet to do.”

With Christmas approaching, Zippy talks to her dad about presents~her dad tells her when he was growing up during the depression, he was happy to get an orange:

“This was the most insane piece of news I had ever heard in my life. An orange was the opposite of a present; it was no different than saying, ‘I was happy just to get a baked potato,’ or ‘I was happy just to have a floor.’ I felt a little shiver in my shoes. I would never be happy to get an orange.”



I have to say that this is the limit of my musical ability. . .but I did love that banjo!

 The Jarvis family has lots of pets that gives Zippy fits and great stories:

  “When I was born we had two dogs: the great, noble, and legendary German shepherd, Kai; and Tiger, who some sort of beagle-shaped zeppelin with unusual bowel function and tragically short legs.”

I couldn’t help but notice our dog Rascal, looks a lot like Tiger, without the tragically short legs. (I can’t comment on the bowel function, since he was always outside :)

(I’m happy to report that I don’t have a list of things lost by my father gambling…)

“We went out to visit three of Julie’s horses, Rebel, Diablo, and Mingo. Mingo was Julie’s favorite of all the horses, even though he was criminally insane.”

Instead of Rebel, Diablo & Mingo, we rode Tony, Sugarfoot & Prince, and later on Smokey, when we went to visit my grandparents in Mississippi each summer.

 Zippy has a fondness for freezing-cold Cokes, which was a real treat for us when we visited my grandparents~ I don’t know if it was the fact that they were so cold, or it was that Mississippi was always so hot!


 Zippy rides her bike everywhere. . .Her fondness for bicycle rodeo has her constantly visiting the emergency room. She is most often riding to drugstore to order lemon phosphates at the soda fountain.


 Thinking of the soda fountain and her fondness of Cokes & Ice Cream, I thought I would make some Coke Floats. . .




Zippy introduced me to Sugar~Cream Pie which I was totally unfamiliar with and had to google. . . I found this.


Sugar Cream Pie Recipe Here

 I read the reviews & comments on this pie and followed a recommendation to bake it 15 minutes longer than the recipe called for (keeping the crust covered the entire baking time) and to leave it in the oven for 15 minutes after turning the oven off, as recommended. I added 1 T of vanilla and a pinch of salt as well.  I was in a hurry and burning daylight to get these photos, but if I had to do it over, I would blast the top with a torch like creme brulee to carmelize the sugar a little bit. I have to say, I’m more a cake than pie person, but this was very good and surprisingly easy.



“Laced with fine storytelling, sharp wit, dead-on observations, and moments of sheer joy, Haven Kimmel’s straight-shooting portrait of her childhood gives us a heroine who is wonderfully sweet and sly as she navigates the quirky adult world that surrounds Zippy.” ~Broadway Books


Be sure to visit Food for Thought and find out what everyone is reading & eating!

  9 comments for “A Girl Named Zippy

  1. April 9, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    i read this so long ago i can barely remember it, i loved it, but its great to get a refresher with you. look how cute you are in your party pics! its so fun that you are sharing your childhood, I LOVE FOOD FOR THOUGHT! talk about letting the inner child play~

    the horses, banjo, piano, its like we had a universal childhood.

    you turned coke into an art form…

    i have never heard of this pie either, move over i am getting in the sugar line! dang you had a sweet tooth readathon this time, i am so jealous! the pics looks fabulous, i am off to check out the recipe, another picture perfect review, don’t you love 5 star books, they just lift the soul to the rafters!

    thank you for playing, so well, at food for thought!

  2. April 10, 2010 at 1:14 am

    What a fun review. I don’t know this book, but loved seeing your family photos. I was born before 1965, but grew up in a small town. I’d like to read Zippy. :-)

  3. April 10, 2010 at 8:15 am

    You have your Dad’s smile! The family photos were delightful but the shots of the pie are making me hungry! I’ve never tasted that one so I’m adding the recipe to my bookmarks. Thanks for including the alterations you followed. That is always very helpful.

  4. April 10, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Another one I would love:)

  5. April 10, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I just love a sugar cream pie- and yours looks delicious!

  6. April 10, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    What a wonderful fun post. I enjoyed all the photos and the coke and pie. Off to order the book from my library too. Thanks for such a fun post.

  7. Laura Leigh
    April 10, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Love your banjo picture….and we both looked So Happy to have that cute lamb cake…Loved this book – can’t wait to read “She Got Up Off The Couch”… thanks for loaning it to me…Yummy looking Pie – May try it next time I need a dessert….Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  8. Carolyn
    April 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing some childhood photos. What a lucky kid! You got to ride horses when you went to see Grandma. We can all learn a lesson from Zippy, don’t talk until you have something important to say! Memories of the Aluminum Christmas Tree come back as a member of our family had one, with a moving wheel that shined different colored lights on the tree and was reflected back by the shiny aluminum. Hard to believe anyone thought that was pretty.
    Coke floats and cherry cokes, oh the memories!

  9. April 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I have this book and have never read it. You have made me want to give it a try. The coke float brings back so many memories…and my grandmother had one of those alum. trees with the wheel. She adored it! The pie looks right up my alley!

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