On this day in 1927, humorist Erma Bombeck is born in Dayton, Ohio.
Bombeck studied English at Ohio University and the University of Dayton and worked part time as a reporter at the Dayton Journal Herald, writing obituaries and features. At age 20, she was diagnosed with a kidney disease from which she suffered throughout her entire adult life.
In 1949, she married William Bombeck, a high school teacher who later became a principal. While raising three children, she started writing a neighborhood newspaper for $3 a column. In 1965, her old employer, the Journal Herald, invited her to write a three-times-a-week column called “At Wit’s End,” which was soon syndicated nationally. She became one of America’s most beloved columnists, writing about the everyday trials of suburban housewives.
In 1967, her first book, also called At Wit’s End, comprised a collection of her columns. Among her many other popular books were The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank (1976), If Life Is a Bowl Of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? (1978), Aunt Erma’s Cope Book (1979), and A Marriage Made in Heaven…Or Too Tired for an Affair (1993). Bombeck wrote her books and raised her children while dealing with kidney disease. She survived breast cancer, with which she was diagnosed in 1991. She died after a failed kidney transplant in 1996.