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Now Hear This: People, Trends and Ideas - May

A Life Well Lived

It took more than a century, but Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson, a child of former slaves, lived long enough to get a book deal. Her new memoir—It Is Well With My Soul: The Extraordinary Life of a 106-Year-Old Woman—provides a distinctive view of American events, culminating in the inauguration of Barack Obama, which Johnson attended. “She very much wanted her legacy to be one of compassion, and its importance in every life,” coauthor Patricia Mulcahy says of Johnson, who died just before the book’s release.

Tasting Hard Times

The cafe at London’s Imperial War Museum is offering classic dishes from a time of food shortages in Britain, the 1940s and ’50s. Items include corned beef, beetroot and horseradish salad; and cabbage and apple stew. The special menu, part of the museum’s “Ministry of Food” exhibit running through Jan. 3, 2011, “is a great way to extend the visitor experience,” says Mike Lucy, chief executive of Company of Cooks, the exhibition’s sponsor.

‘Mad’ About Dolls

What do stars do when they’ve already done Oprah and The Simpsons and have graced countless magazine covers? If they’re on the hit cable show Mad Men, they become Barbie and Ken dolls. Mattel will feature four characters from the AMC series about life in a 1960s ad agency—leading man Don Draper; his wife, Betty Draper; colleague Roger Sterling; and hottie office manager Joan Holloway. The dolls, which cost $74.95 each, will be available in stores and online at and Barbie in July.

Mike Tucker is a writer in Virginia.