I started out as a reference-book editor and writer in New York and then stayed home to be with my children. When they were able to do without me – or so I thought – I looked for a job using my skills close to home. I found one as copy editor at the Fair Lawn Shopper. Midge Boardman, who died a few years ago, was the editor.
All went well – again, so I thought – until my babysitter reported, three weeks into the job, that my 3-year-old cried from the moment I left for work until the moment I came home. I gave notice – and a cake whose icing read: “Copy editor says farewell.”
My next try, a few years later, was more successful. Both kids were in school and I applied for a job as a reporter at the Ridgewood News, which was then a twice-weekly paper. I dressed very conservatively in those days, and the editor, Gordon Murphy, looked me over and sneered, “What are you going to report on? The garden club?” But he gave me the job just the same, and I went home determined to knock his socks off.
I did. Luck blew a big story my way. My son came gome from kindergarten bursting with news the teacher had told them – and asked them not to tell. I guess she was bursting to tell the news herself. A bomb had exploded at another elementary school, and no one was supposed to know about it – because (I later learned) the board of education had chosen to suppress the information. So here I had a more than figuratively combustible story – and a lot of fun, too, tracking down the folks at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and getting quotes from them.
“A bomb,” Gordon kept saying, looking at little mommy me in disbelief. “A bomb!”
P.S. We became friends.
P.P.S. I gave my son $1 for giving me the tip – and soon I was besieged by little boys calling me on the phone with tips.
P.P.P.S. Some years later someone was killed in an explosion in Fair Lawn, and the FBI concluded that it bore the signature of the school-door explosion – which may have been a test.
More to come, as they say in our profession….