I was not an 8-year-old boy growing up in Oklahoma, but one growing up in the 50s on a wheat farm in western Kansas. I think Easy Bake came a little after my time, but I remember asking for and getting a bake set (with instant mixes) and a farm set (with a metal barn and rubber animals) the very same Christmas. Maybe back then, people weren't so aware of or at least so worried about people's sexuality. Or (as I truly know), my dirt-poor, Methodist-church-going, Bob Dole-come-to-visit-our-house Republican parents just loved me so much that it didn't matter that I always seemed to want both a "girl-toy" and a "boy-toy' for Christmas. I have a light-flashing robot and a pristine play China set that I've kept to this day.
But in regards to cooking, my mom could make about anything from lard, flour, fresh milk, and eggs. Her philosophy about cooking was that we'd have to be able to cook to teach a wife "how to cook". She didn't think that any of the girls of those days were learning how to cook at home. This has especially come true with my fisherman/hunter, retired railroad worker, older brother who cooks much better than either of the two wives he's had. He loves to pickle things, bake, and all kinds of other cooking. My other brother can cook, but his wife does pretty well on her own, learning to make my mom's recipes. My sister, too, cooks well, but now that she's widowed is more like me, a single gay man. We both enjoy cooking, but living alone, we mostly cook fast and easy.
I also remember back them some farm wives out on the tractor, and maybe a comment was made by a few others about that, but if the field needed plowed, it needed plowed, and that was about it.
I think these days, people sometimes worry too much about the "hows and whys". There's nothing more feminine or masculine about driving a tractor than there is about peeling a potato. In the end, they both need to just get done.
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