Brain Game: I Heart Huxtables

At the Huxtable household, Valentine's Day is a special day. Mother Claire kicks off the holiday a week early by secretly assigning each of her five children the job of sending a valentine card to one other sibling. She makes the assignments herself, but asks the kids to keep quiet until the five cards are delivered. She even takes the time to ensure that the sender of each card doesn't receive a card from that same sibling. What a mom, huh?

Anyway, you probably know the names of the Huxtable brood. Sondra is the oldest, followed by Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and little Rudy. Given the above information and these three clues, can you determine the senders and recipients of each of the five valentine cards?

1. Theo sent his valentine to a sibling older than he.

2. Sondra's valentine went to one of the two youngest Huxtables.

3. Denise, who did not send a valentine to Vanessa, thanked Rudy for hers.

Here is the SOLUTION.


Rudy sent a valentine to Denise;
Vanessa sent a valentine to Rudy;
Theo sent a valentine to Sondra;
Denise sent a valentine to Theo; and
Sondra sent a valentine to Vanessa.


Clue #1 indicates that Theo sent a valentine to either Denise or Sondra.

Clue #2 reveals that Sondra sent a valentine to either Rudy or Vanessa.

According to clue #3, Denise did not send Vanessa's valentine. Also, Rudy sent Denise's valentine.

By elimination, Theo sent Sondra's valentine.

Since Rudy sent Denise's card, Denise could not have sent Rudy's valentine; so Denise's card went to Theo.

Vanessa could not have sent a valentine to herself, so hers went to Rudy, and Sondra's went to Vanessa.

Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California
The Concept of the American 'Backyard' is Newer Than You Think
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Backyards are as American as apple pie and baseball. If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are good that you have a lawn, and maybe a pool, some patio furniture, and a grill to boot.

This wasn’t always the case, though. As Smithsonian Insider reports, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans began to consider the backyard an extension of the home, as well as a space for recreation and relaxation. After World War II, Americans started leaving the big cities and moving to suburban homes that came equipped with private backyards. Then, after the 40-hour work week was implemented and wages started to increase, families started spending more money on patios, pools, and well-kept lawns, which became a “symbol of prosperity” in the 1950s, according to a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

A man mows his lawn in the 1950s
In this photo from the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit, a man mows his lawn in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington
Library in San Marino, California

Entitled "Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard," the exhibition includes photographs, advertisements, and articles about backyards from the 1950s and 1960s. The traveling display is currently on view at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas, and from there it will head to Hartford, Connecticut, in December.

Prior to the 1950s, outdoor yards were primarily workspaces, reports. Some families may have had a vegetable garden, but most yards were used to store tools, livestock, and other basic necessities.

The rise of the backyard was largely fueled by materials that were already on hand, but hadn’t been accessible to the average American during World War II. As Smithsonian Insider notes, companies that had manufactured aluminum and concrete for wartime efforts later switched to swimming pools, patio furniture, and even grilling utensils.

A family eats at a picnic table in the 1960s
A family in Mendham, New Jersey, in the 1960s
Molly Adams/Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection

At the same time, DIY projects started to come into fashion. According to an exhibit caption of a Popular Mechanics article from the 1950s, “‘Doing-it-yourself’ was advertised as an enjoyable and affordable way for families to individualize their suburban homes.” The magazine wrote at the time that “patios, eating areas, places for play and relaxation are transforming back yards throughout the nation.”

The American backyard continues to grow to this day. As Bloomberg notes, data shows that the average backyard grew three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. The average home last year had 7048 square feet of outdoor space—plenty of room for a sizable Memorial Day cookout.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

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