Washington Press Club Foundation
Vivian Castleberry:
Interview #2B (pp. 80-105)
June 27, 1989 in Dallas, Texas
Anne Kasper, Interviewer

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Session Two continued
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Kasper: Tell me, about the time of the late sixties and early seventies when the women's movement started going, where was the women's section or the "Living" section at that point, and in its transformation. Did you still have a fashion editor and a food editor and so forth?

Castleberry: Yes, we did.

Kasper: You did. You still had them.

Castleberry: But we were focusing on what women were doing in the world. We were focusing on women's issues. We were covering everything.

Kasper: What were the issues you were covering?

Castleberry: We were covering well—

Kasper: Abortion to "Z", "A" to "Z."

Castleberry: Oh, yeah. "A" to "Z."

Kasper: What were some of those in the alphabet there that you remember?

Castleberry: Let's go look.

Kasper: Let's go look. Okay. [Tape interruption.]

Okay. With bad foot and all we have moved into this other room and we've brought the tape recorder because we're going to read off some of the topics.

Castleberry: Some of the topics that we covered. Okay. Beginning with abandoned mother and child; abortion; adoption; agoraphobia; Alzheimer's; the Anesa method of education; anorexia nervosa; autism; burnout; the blended family; two-career couples; cancer—I've got so much on cancer it fills a whole drawer; child abuse; child care—and there are probably ten folders on child care; and then child custody; health and wellness; joint custody; child guidance; children's rights; corporate care—there's a great light. I became the child care reporter by attrition, nobody else was doing it; the Commission on the Status of Women, 1984; CUB—Concerned United Birth Parents.

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Kasper: And some of these issues go back to as early as the fifties when you began covering these.

Castleberry: Oh, yeah, sure they do. Some of these folders are so old that they're almost falling apart. Depression—that was mental depression in women; diabetes; a personal memoir that was my own story of suffering depression; diabetes; displaced homemakers; divorce and its impact; Downs syndrome; dreams and their meaning.

Kasper: And we've only gotten to the "D's."

Castleberry: Drugs and alcohol. I know we're only to the "D's."

Kasper: In that first file drawer.

Castleberry: But we kept this up for years. Epidermis—I can't even pronounce it now.

Kasper: What is that?

Castleberry: I could pronounce it fine at the time.

Kasper: But that should be something I should know if it's a medical—

Castleberry: It is. It's something you should know. It's medical. It's very medical. Okay. I'll read some more while you do that, okay?

Kasper: This has to do with blister babies?

Castleberry: Un huh. Blister babies.

Kasper: Now this is an article you wrote in 1982. It's called "Blister Baby. Mother keeps seeking the unknown cure." "Linda first remembers her gnawing uneasiness when nobody brought her newborn baby to her room at Parkland Hospital when all the other mothers were seeing theirs. It was January 21, 1979. She was eighteen, had just given birth to a son and was eager to meet him. 'I was very young,' Linda says, 'but toward the end of the pregnancy I got very excited about having the baby. People would ask if I wanted a boy or a girl and I would just say I wanted a healthy baby. Brandon was three hours old when I finally got a nurse to tell me that something was wrong. She said when they were cleaning him up in the delivery room his skin broke out in blisters.' Brandon Furst has a rare genetic disease. A form of epidermolysis belosa. It is characterized by cysts, blisters and lesions that erupt from the skin wherever it is irritated and almost everything irritates it." Good heavens. I have never even heard of that.

Castleberry: Really, well, it was not a fun story to cover.

Kasper: No, it sounds like that was very painful.

Castleberry: But the medical school called me and asked me if I would do this and open up the options and I was glad to. Epilepsy; the ERA-Pro and Con—several folders on that. Here's a very thin folder, it's entitled "Men seeking equality relationships"—and that's because a man called me and said that all this stuff that I was doing, that there were men in this world who really wanted equality relationships with women and I said, "Well, if you would just get me some of those men together, I'll come out and talk with them." So, he did, and I did and this is the result, and as you can see, the folder's very thin. [Laughter.]

Kasper: Did you write the article that's in here?

Castleberry: Un huh.

Kasper: Let's see this. Okay. I see there's an article here by Vivian Castleberry, Women's Editor, and the title of it is "Equality—How Far Do Men Want to Go." And it was written 10/4/1980 and there are several pictures here of some young men and some not so young men. And she starts out by saying, "Many men say they desire relationships of equality with women, but the past often dies hard for both men and women. For many men equality stops with the dirty dishes and the dirty diapers.

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For many women, it stops when the car stalls on the freeway and when the kitchen sink stops up. 'Men want to date modern women,' wrote Nickey Scott in a newspaper column "Working Woman," 'but they want old-fashioned wives.' 'But times are changing,' says Pat Pearson a Dallas counselor whose private practice deals largely with singles. Men have been sacrificed on the altar of machismo as much as women have been sacrificed on the altar of dependence. Strong men and women see in each other the ultimate liberation for both sexes. Nobody wants to be liberated and alone. 'The growing edge for men,' she said, 'is recognition that they lose nothing by choosing a strong woman. All they give up is manipulation.'" Nice.

Castleberry: Well, it was a fun thing to do because what came out of it was that most of these men who sat for this interview then went on to doing their own machismo thing after that. We were doing articles on exchange students—we did quite a lot of that; executive women of Dallas; family court counselors; family law; families that work; the founding of the Family Place—which is our home for abused wives; male batterers; feminism; fight against the far right; fathers with custody; foster care; foster grandparents; freedom from religion; Free People's Foundation; freedom to choose the medical treatment that you want; medical treatment and health care; goals for Dallas; grandparents' rights—which is fairly a new thing; handicapped; heart-to-heart; hepatitis; herpes—I'll never forget the first time I got into this, one of my friends called me and said, "Why haven't you ever written on herpes. My daughter was just diagnosed with it and it's breaking our hearts." So I went out to the medical school and we started to work and this is the result.

Kasper: There it is. This is an article by Vivian Castleberry, and again, the Women's Editor, and the title is "Herpes—the venereal disease which has no cure." And it's in the Sunday, April 22, 1979 issue, "Living Section," Section F of the Dallas Times Herald.

Castleberry: Home health service; homemaking—the value of housework; Hope Cottage—adoption agency; emergency hospice; housing; incest; Jewish women; League of Women Voters; LIFT—this is what I was telling you about Margaret Hirsch a little while ago, my Jewish friend who taught Literacy Instruction for Texas, it's named—LIFT; Links—the premiere black women's organization; liver diseases; lupus; marriage counseling; marriage epidemic—that was an interesting story to do.

Kasper: What was the marriage epidemic?

Castleberry: The marriage epidemic was when the first, after couples living together first started trying, beginning really in great numbers to get married throughout this country, that the living together had not worked as well as it was supposed to. So a real epidemic of people getting married; staying married; the Martha movement; men changing roles.

Kasper: Men who moved here from their—?

Castleberry: Men who moved here for their wives' careers; menopause; mercy killings; ministers; the Mondale bill—way back from '75; Montessori—

Kasper: What was the Mondale bill?

Castleberry: The Mondale bill was the child care bill that was killed; mothers without custody; mothers and others against murder—that was mothers of murdered children; Mount St. Michael; moving—what moving does to the family; networking for women; NOW—

Kasper: NOW meaning the National Organization for Women.

Castleberry: Outsider program; parent abuse; parenting; parents of murdered children; pastoral care; Parkinson's disease; pilot home; population; PMS—premenstrual syndrome; there's SANCI—the Society for Abandoned and Neglected Children, Inc.—SANCI; Searchline of Texas—that's a group that helps adopted children find their parents; self-help groups of all kinds; sexual harassment; Southwest Family Institute; suicide; suicide prevention; taking baby home; the tenants' association; Texas Women's University—and then a whole plethora of

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information on women—different things that have to do with women and women's centers.

Kasper: Health and women's centers and women's honors.

Castleberry: And those were some of the things we were covering. Okay. [Tape interruption.]

Kasper: We're looking at articles on the homemaker panels.

Castleberry: We're looking at articles on the homemaker panel that later became the Dallas Times Herald Women's Panel and the kinds of things that we covered during—the kinds of topics that we covered, you could almost catalog the changing times by looking at them. Because I was just looking at this one. In 1963 we were talking about old-fashioned remedies for new-fangled problems and we were talking about the impact of the church in community life and the fact that women still went to a lot of ladies luncheons and wore hats and so we had a little fashion show for them and we showed how to do makeup that day and the kinds of things that at that stage in time they were interested in. And then on the second day, on the second day we got around to chores and we listed some of the things that have come down that are still, today, good. What we did was thirty minutes of uninterrupted, just calling out the kinds of things that you do in your house that save time. And these were some of the things: Buy separate colors of towels and washrags for every family member when you replenish your linens—members usually then will be more careful to hang the towel if they know its theirs; keep paper cups in the bathroom for toothbrush rinsing; practice cafeteria open or closed with your children and their friends—open cafeteria means snacks are permissible—closed cafeteria means food is off limits—Kids understand this; use white distilled vinegar to take stains and odors, including perspiration from clothing, carpets and linens; keep a picnic jug of cold water in a handy place for the children to cut down refrigerator door openings and save money; pour ammonia into your pot that has been burned with food on it, it will clean in a jiffy. So it's just a lot of little things that—

Kasper: That's 1963.

Castleberry: 1963, that we were doing. But then, on day 3 we talked about marriage and how to keep a good marriage going, and what to do if one was not going well; recipe for a happy marriage—re-woo and re-win your mate daily. And on the next day we talked about beauty, concentrated on that. And then, the final day, we talked about a more in-depth subject—deeper concerns of Dallas women. "`The emancipation of women has created an upheaval in many American homes. The art of women hating is second to no art in the world today,' one panelist said. `Many of the things women worked for simply aren't worth it,' another noted. `The world tells you, just be yourself, but it never tells you what that means.'" So the kinds of things that they said under these guided questions and answers. One of them was, what does the world demand of women today? And one of the panelists answered, "Be not in the slightest concerned about what the world demands. Be undismayed by what other people think. Put yourself in focus, find out who you are, make it right with your God and your husband and your children in that order, and don't worry about anybody else."

Kasper: Now this is also in 1963. You're beginning to see a change in that last—

Castleberry: Yeah. Well, the whole day you covered a lot of topics in one day's time, and some of them were fluffy and superfluous but some of them were really in-depth and really where it mattered. And then we come up to 1976 and you see a dramatic change. Not only in the program, in the way it looks, in the quality of the program itself.

Kasper: This is the 16th Annual Dallas Times Herald Women's Panel that was held July 1976. And it starts with the ten o'clock program, "The sharing hours—who are you and what makes you unique; how do you spend your time; what do you do that might be beneficial to other women; how do you manage yourself, your money, your housework, your recreation; who are you in relation to others, your family, your career, your community, your world?" And then they move on to an afternoon program and there's a break into six discussion groups with co-leaders and a reporter.

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"The session allows all individuals to consider the choices they have made with their lives and options open to them for the future. It's designed to be open-ended so that leaders may bring out the ideas of each participant and so that new thinking may be aired and discussed." And then on this program, which is quite lovely, it has a picture of seven women on the front, underneath the title, which is "Freedom to Choose: The Career Woman versus the Career Homemaker. What have we got against each other?" And then it opens up inside where this program, part of which I have just read, is centered, and then the resource people are listed on the next piece of this centered program. The Times Herald women's news staff: Vivian Castleberry, Dorothy Fagg, Maggie Kennedy, Mary Ann Lane, Wanda McDaniel, Edith McRoberts, Vicky Morgan, Nancy Nielson, Barbara Richardson, Yvonne Saliba and Julia Sweeney. And then I presume as leaders for the afternoon session—

Castleberry: Leaders for the afternoon were the ones that you have just read down here where you're breaking into six discussion groups. Well, each one of those discussion groups had two very carefully chosen leaders and every one of them had participated in a prior panel. So that they not only were professionally qualified to lead these groups, but they knew what the program was all about and what it was we were working toward pulling out. And everyone of these people if you will look, Cherry Carapatyan is now in Austin where she is running a large organization. Ann Chud is in Washington, D.C., where she is with the government approving housing. Lee Douthit is a psychologist. Vicky Downing is a business woman who opened her own business and does business with Third World countries. And Celeste Guerrero is not Hispanic. She was married to a Hispanic and has been a leader in the Hispanic community. Elisabeth Holloway is foreign born, she is from Austria and is an outstanding teacher in the Dallas school system. Paula Jeffers, recently married and moved away from Dallas and I haven't heard from her. Marie Malouf, recently retired from a job where she was pretty much of a trouble shooter for a large department store going all over the southwest solving problems. Bette Moncrief is a fascinating woman. She is now a realtor, but she came up first as a fashion model, and then became a businesswoman, then got into real estate and has made a killing at it. I don't know where Betty is—Betty Schneider.

[End Tape 2, Side B; Begin Tape 3, Side A]

Castleberry: —psychologist in town, she's a Jungian psychologist, also a feminist psychologist in that she is very much—has written a marvelous book on women.

Kasper: And on the back of this program are all the panelists that participated in these panels from 1959 to 1975, and the dates and the year in which they first participated. That's really interesting. You've got extras of these, are you willing to give one away?

Castleberry: Yes. You may have that. I do have extras of these. I don't have extras of all of them.

Kasper: Well, whenever you've got something you're willing to give away, we'd love to take it and put it in with your file in your archives.

Castleberry: Well, I can look through a lot of this stuff and give it to you. And interestingly, I think you might be interested in seeing how they reported, each group had a reporter and—as well as having leaders and participants, they also had very good reporters who were trying to give us back what was going on there. And then from that, I could take and synthesize and come up with the stories.

Kasper: So you would read through these reports and then you would write your stories.

Castleberry: Oh, carefully. Yes. Very carefully. And also in collaboration with my staff members who were there who would help me. Here's the beginning for the '76 panel: "Women must, if they are to remain happy and productive, anticipate the turning points of their lives and be prepared to make reasonably accurate veers in the right direction before they arrive at those critical points. Very young women don't know this and some older women have still not learned it. The 1976 Times Herald Women's Panel participants spoke of these turning points and the preparation for them. Here are their voices."

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And this is what they said. "The young woman leaving home should make every effort to weigh pros and cons for what she wants to do with her life and move purposefully in that direction. The woman about to marry should know that she cannot live as an appendage to her husband. If she tries to, she will sap him of his energy and lose her own right to herself. The woman with children must realize that she has only a few short years to shape them and that they must eventually become their own people. She should, as one young woman phrased it, 'be so busy living her own life that she has no time to live the lives of her children.'"

Kasper: Now this is a report from a 1976 panel reported back to the group as a whole.

Castleberry: Yes. Right. "As the nest empties every mother should be consumed with new interests, a job that gives her satisfaction, volunteer work that adds meaning to her life, going back to school for credit or for life enrichment. Before her husband retires, she should have encouraged him to develop interests that will give him new zest for living. If he refuses to do this, then she should structure her own life so that they won't bug the heck out of each other." So those are the kinds of things that we did and it gives you a little bit of a sample of why those things were so significant and I still have women today stop me in shopping centers and say, "Why don't you do another Times Herald panel?" They got just a tremendous amount out of it.

Kasper: And it was after you retired that these came to an end or was it before you retired?

Castleberry: Well they came to an end shortly before I retired because—

Kasper: In the early '80s.

Castleberry: Yes, in the early 80's. New management wasn't really carried away with our continuing to do these things.

Here is another program just for you to look at for a second. I thought that one was an extremely interesting one.

Kasper: This is the Thirteenth Annual Homemaker Panel with a quote from e.e. cummings on the front and a picture of a woman—

Castleberry: Fragmented.

Kasper: —fragmented picture, yeah, and inside the title, "Women in Search of the Significant." And the morning program is "What makes you different? What makes you important? How do you get things done? What do you leave undone and why? How do you manage your time, your money, your housework or your recreation? Who are you in relation to others? Husband or family, community and world. Vivian Castleberry, Dorothy Fagg, Maggie Kennedy, Barbara Richardson and Ann Worley will help you explore and share." And so forth.

Castleberry: I was telling you that not all women found it—and, I mentioned a few yards back about this woman who said I had ruined her life and I want to read you a little bit from that letter. I have found it. She said, "This is not a thank you letter. I am sorry that I have no vehicle for expressing myself. Something as simple as speaking fails me at this time and I am left thinking and unable to express what I believe and so it went as a member of your panel. I said I felt phoney. It was a bad way of putting it. I knew it then but it wouldn't come out at that time, but now I've had time to think about it, and I don't care to see the group picture for I won't pretend for one moment that I belonged in it. And if I saw my name in print, I would know that I would bow my head in shame because I simply don't belong." And it went on in that vein and ends up by saying, "I will remember and bring back part of what was said to my children, I am sure, but most of it I will want to forget." That was in August 25, 1970—

Kasper: What do you think she meant by all of that?

Castleberry: I don't know.

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Kasper: She attended a panel, a homemaker panel—

Castleberry: She attended the panel as a member and it blew her away of her safe little world.

Kasper: And what this letter reflects is her total confusion after having had her world torn down by participating in your homemaker panel and she hadn't yet put it back together again.

Castleberry: Right. That's right. And this letter then came the following year, in June of 1972. She said, "Dear Vivian. You have a capacity for making people you meet feel important. Thank you for everything. It is unfortunate that whole cities of women cannot be a part of a panel like the one you do. It was invaluable to me as I now have a much clearer vision of who I am as my female self. Admitting that it covered me up the first day when I wrote to you, I have since had a very positive reaction to all of this. Because of the many panels you have put together or have been involved in, you must find that there are repetitions or women that are changing rapidly. Even without hearing your answer, I know that that is true. And that describes somewhat of how the panel affected me. At first, I could not believe it, and then as I thought, it began to make sense. Love, Pat." And of course I wrote to her right away after I got that first one and said that I was really sorry that she had been so confused by it all and trusted that things would get better. And it did.

Kasper: And how about some of these other folders we've pulled, Vivian? These are issue folders and some of those issues have articles—most of them have articles—that were written about the issues that you were covering at the time.

Castleberry: Let's see what this one is up here. This one looks like an old, old folder. It must go way, way back.

Kasper: Is that the custody folder?

Castleberry: This is the correspondence folder, so let's see what's in here. Just real fast.

Kasper: Bombeck? You used to—

Castleberry: Before Erma Bombeck, I wrote an article for years called "Family Style." Mine were certainly not as amusing or funny as hers were, but I had many letters from readers who said, in effect, "Have you been looking through my window?" because it really hit a remarkable nerve in this community of how the kinds of things that happen to people who live in houses with children. And I quit it only when one of my children came home one day and had felt singled out at school. Her teacher had said to her, "Are you the daughter of the woman who writes about you all the time?" And I thought, "Uh oh, I will not put that onus on my children." And so I stopped doing the column. I didn't want people to feel—I wanted my children to grow up as their own people and not to be imposed upon by a mother who used them in print for what might be her—

Kasper: You know, one of the things that occurred to me when we were looking through your files just a few minutes ago is a lot of people would look through those issues and say, oh, those are family issues. Those are just—in fact, they would say, a lot of people would say, those were just family issues. How do you feel about that?

Castleberry: My feeling about this is that they're exactly right. And the family is at the heart of this world and without it, nothing is going to function very long. And what has been so hard for me to understand is that the very things of life that are essential to living, such as the birth of children, the nurturing of children, the care of each other, the food we eat, the gardening we do to make ourselves more comfortable, the environment that we look after—

Kasper: The marriages that we stay in, hold together.

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Castleberry: —marriages that we hold together. That these are considered women's issues and that they are denigrated as second class because these are the crux of what our civilization is all about and if we don't have these things, we have nothing. Everything goes down the drain when that glue falls apart. And it is absolutely how we came to a period of time where war and making war is more important than birthing and nurturing children as a part of our civilization or how we came to the time where loving and comforting your mate or someone in trouble or an old person who is dying is not as important as finding the felon on the street or arresting the guy or shooting each other. I can't believe it.

Kasper: So don't you feel that the kind of journalism that you spent twenty-eight years involved with and stayed involved with even after retirement in '84 is the kind of journalism that is the change agent for a better world? Isn't that what your saying? You're not just reporting on so-called "just family issues" and that women's issues aren't just women's issues, but the crux of many of our problems can be changed by the kind of journalism that you were devoted to?

Castleberry: I hope so. I hope so. I hope that we are—and I am convinced that if enough of us saw this vision, if enough women in this country could understand how critical these issues are to the survival of civilization, then we would turn it around. And this is what we have trouble getting across because it has been such a man's world and has been so weighted toward giving value to the things that men think are important that we have totally left out the human element. If we can't quantify it, it doesn't count.

Kasper: Well, and don't you think that your journalism has been in the business of empowering women, and that once women are more thoroughly empowered, they can make those changes to match their vision. Isn't that part of what you're—

Castleberry: That was my intent.

Kasper: Part of your intent. Yes.

Castleberry: Certainly, my intent that women become sufficiently empowered that they not only know they can do it, but they value it. They value what it is they're doing. The world has not valued what women do.

Kasper: And even women haven't valued what they do.

Castleberry: Well, women haven't valued what they do simply because of society's evaluation techniques. And as soon as women begin to understand that what they do is—and the way they feel and the way they think is one-half of the human dimension, then they will begin to value it. But as long as we weigh and measure everything by the standards that are prevailing in our country, then we are just stuck. And breaking that is hard, it's extremely hard.

Kasper: Now, we've got some files here that are what I call issue files—what you call issue files as well. And which one have you just opened now?

Castleberry: This is one that at the University of Missouri they said was really scattered.

Kasper: Oh, the one you were describing with the pictures as a frame.

Castleberry: Un huh. The one I was describing earlier with the pictures around. And with the pictures as a frame. And I still think that was a terrific—

Kasper: And these are pictures of young teenagers and you've written an open letter to every teen queen in the center of this and then it continues on the inside page. And this is November—I can't quite make out the date.

Castleberry: Look on the back.

Kasper: Yes. 1964.

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Castleberry: And then this was one that we did that also created quite a hubbub. We explored the Greek sorority system—the Greek system and what it does to young people and the pros and cons. And of course, people who are rich and people who need to be validated by others do not understand that the sorority/fraternity system or the Greek system as it prevails can be very bad for some people.

Kasper: Well, the title of this is "Sorority: Sister or Sinister." And it's in the Living section and the issue is Sunday, September 7, 1969, in the Dallas Times Herald.

Castleberry: This is one that I won a page layout award on, a Press Club award, for this article on "Who Cares for Your Children."

Kasper: This is the Dallas Times Herald, Sunday morning, February 11, 1968, and the title of the article by Maggie Kennedy, who was a staff writer, is "Who Cares for Your Child—The Need for Good Care in Dallas Outreaches the Facilities." Talk about timely. And this is 1968 and we are first, in 1989, addressing the very same issue in the same terms.

Castleberry: Yes, and we've gone backward in so many areas. This one goes way back to 1966 and we did a front page layout on the kinds of difference a church makes. And at the time the church was doing—the church women were doing extremely significant things. They had this topic—their topic was "This Half of the Apple is Mine." And I had two sort of outstanding people in the community to try to take a bite out of each half of their apple. I couldn't get the man to do it, but the woman took a bite out of hers. [Laughter.]

Kasper: He's standing there—he's a cold fish. The title of this article is, "Does the Church Make a Difference?" and it's in the Dallas Times Herald, Sunday, January 16, 1966. And there are some nice pictures of people in the community here.

Castleberry: And, let's see what else there's going to be.

Kasper: I'd be interested in some of the—there was a file here on depression and there was a custody story that I wanted you to talk about as well.

Castleberry: Yes. I don't know whether I'll ever get this put back or not. I may never. This one is not what I thought it was. This particular one is on the Great Depression and that was when my editor asked me on the fiftieth anniversary of the Great Depression to tell what I remembered about it. That's not the one I thought it was.

Kasper: There was an article, you said, you wrote on your own personal depression?

Castleberry: I wrote—what I did was do a series of articles on women in depression—why they were depressed. Of course, they were depressed principally because their life didn't have any meaning. As all of us who have done any exploration at all know, some of this depression is physical, some of it is medical, some of it is a health issue, and at that time that I became interested in it, I had just gone through a personal, terrible depression. And because I had done so much work in it, I knew what I had—

Kasper: You'd done so much what?

Castleberry: I'd done so much study in the field of depression and suicide, suicide prevention that—

Kasper: You diagnosed yourself.

Castleberry: —I knew what was happening to me, but I didn't know why. And I was in a state of just—almost inability to function. I'll never forget—it's funny now, but it wasn't funny then—Erica Jong came to town and I was interviewing her and almost in the middle of the interview I put my pen down and said, "Tell me what I need to know because I can't ask you questions." I was just in a state of not being able to cope.

Kasper: Is this the mid-seventies?

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Castleberry: Yes. And, well it was the late seventies. And what happened was that it was exactly one year before I was diagnosed with cancer. I know, I mean, as things evolved, I know that was eating on me at the time, but I had no way of knowing what it was. And my doctor, my general family doctor, Seth Cowan, was so disturbed about me that he gave me his personal phone number and said call me any minute that you think you need some help. And he said to me, "Have you ever considered suicide?" And I said, "Oh, certainly, but I'm not going to do it." Well, that scared the life out of him. But what I was being was extremely practical and realistic because my feeling is that rarely does a human being come to maturity that they haven't at least once thought that they'd like to end it all. And so I was being too honest and it scared him to death. He gave me—and what was so funny—he gave me medication to ease me over until we could diagnose further, you know, to alleviate the symptoms so that we could get at the root of what was going on.

Kasper: He gave you an anti-depressant?

Castleberry: Yes. And I couldn't take it. I flushed it down the commode after the third dose. It was just devastating. And I told him I did. I called him up the next day and said, "I flushed your expensive medicine down the commode. I'm not going to take any more of it." [Laughter.]

Kasper: He probably saw that as a healthy sign which it probably was.

Castleberry: He did. It was. But then that really got me into working with women and depression and I did an extreme amount of interviewing, in this community, of specialists in all kinds of fields from the medical mode at the medical school to all of the leading psychologists and when I came away I understood why some women are depressed when they go to people for help and they're told what some people tell them and—

Kasper: No wonder they're depressed.

Castleberry: No wonder they're depressed. I would be depressed too if I had to put up with it.

Kasper: And if they weren't depressed beforehand, they sure are to be when they leave.

Castleberry: I do think there's a lot being done in that field. I think it has been aired now to the point—this is about a decade later, and I think it has been aired now to the—but one of the things that my own doctor did for me, and I thought I had it here and I would read it to you if I did, because I do—it has been helpful to other women, and that was, I have discovered that rarely do people write when they are at the peak of life. And what I mean is, when you're in the height of ecstasy, you're so busy living it that you don't have time to write it. And when you're in your depths of depression you're so down that you can't write it. And so my doctor asked me to write an essay as long as I could or as long as I dared on how I really felt. And he made that a priority and he said it was for his learning. It had been made a part of my medical records, but he's also used it, and I appreciated that. It was an exercise. It was hard to do, it was just a page and a half, but it was—

Kasper: Well, that's a form of therapy.

Castleberry: It's a form of therapy. And I feel like that if more people would try that, it is a good way to do it.

Kasper: Yes. I have counseled friends who have been depressed, not only to seek counseling, professional help when they've been depressed and unhappy, but to start a journal if they don't have one. And I've often said, it doesn't have to be more than a couple of paragraphs and if you can't do it every day, if you do it every other day, or when you—just so you get yourself to do it. And some people are, you know, too unhappy or too depressed to be able to, but very often it's the first step to getting better.

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Castleberry: That's right. Yeah. If people could see where they are it is so much easier to open the gate to where they need to go than it is if you just sit there and wallow—

Kasper: And to stay stuck.

Castleberry: —Yes. Un huh, just wallow in your misery.

Kasper: Now what was this custody file that we pulled out? There was a story that you followed for some time.

Castleberry: Yeah, there was a story that I followed for some time on custody. This was the story of a woman who lost her children and her ex-husband filed for—and interestingly enough, I did not ever know how I came about this, but I have a copy of the sealed court records. [Laughter.]

Kasper: Good for you.

Castleberry: And it required some doing to get my hands on it. But this was a woman—she was a panelist at one time. She started out on January 22, 1960, with an ideal marriage. They dated a year and a half. And so they got married and—let's see now where I am on this, I have to refresh my own brain before I can talk about it very much.

Kasper: Do you want to take a couple of minutes and I'll shut the tape off? [Tape interruption.]

Castleberry: What we were going to talk about is that there were so many cases that I followed—custody cases—that I followed all the way through and that meant that I was talking to attorneys and I was talking to child care advocates and I was talking to experts, as well as to the individuals themselves. And one of the cases that I followed all the way through was Pat's case, and I won't give her last name here, but her husband was a psychologist, he was a counselor, professional counselor. And when they were divorced, he asked for and started battling for custody of the children using all of the techniques that he could get, including getting her to go to a psychiatrist and to have a checkup. And she fell for a lot of this stuff. And then sending her away from home so that she could get a rest and he would be there with the children to take care of them and all of these things were accumulating on his record as—

Kasper: And he filed for custody while she was gone.

Castleberry: He filed for custody then, and then he had all of these good things going for him. And the children were small at the time. I don't remember—I think Ellen was only probably about seven or eight. One of the boys was older, one of them was younger. Maybe two of the boys were older and one was younger, but—

Kasper: There were four children all together?

Castleberry: Four children all together. And I shall never forget the absolute horror the day the judge decreed that he should have custody of the children and he was trying to get them out of the courtroom. And the little girl was just screaming and holding out her arms and begging for her mother. And then later I got this little girl on tape. She came to Dallas, finally was court ordered to visit her mother, and she came down to see me—

Kasper: She was much older at this point?

Castleberry: Yeah. She was a little older, but she still was a child. And I got her on tape and this is some of the things that she said. She said, "My mom and Jeff and I went to the courthouse and I had to go off with my dad. I started crying real, real hard and I didn't quit crying until I got out to the neighbors' house and then I had to cry again. Daddy wouldn't talk to me so I was feeling real, real bad. Just awful, awful. I cried and cried and cried. When daddy tried to put his arm around me, I wouldn't let him. My friends said that dad sometimes would sit down

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and cry because I wouldn't talk to him. And then we left for South Texas. I kept feeling a lump in my throat real bad. All the time I was wishing I was back with my mother. We spent the night in Rockdale and we got to Knippa.

I am in the sixth grade. It's real easy now making A's and B's. We have a real, real old house and it's very cold. There are rats in the walls, I can hear them at night. I used to have a dog. He got real, real sick and I tried to get my dad to take him to the vet and he wouldn't take him. He was real, real sick and I felt so bad and I just loved him and that's all I could do. Claudia, Leslie and I went out to Corlinda's a lot. I clean up the kitchen all the time. Dad does a lot of it sometimes. Dad does some of the housework. There are only three rooms in the house. I sleep in one of them. I don't like to sleep in there by myself. I saw mouse droppings on my floor. I wake up all by myself. School is across the street. I love my mom so much. I love my mom more than I do my dad. I told that to the judge. I didn't want to go with him. I cry a lot all the time for my mother. I sometimes give my dad a hard time, I know that. The only way I will be able to get back with my mom is that she will come down there and live with him and she can't do that. He was always fighting with her when they did live together. Once she was trying to call my grandmother on the telephone and he broke the telephone out of the wall. He fusses at Jeff a whole lot, and once he told Jeff not to listen to him, that that was how he would fuss at mom when she was there. I think he was just as happy without us as he was when we didn't live with him, but he just wanted us to come and I don't know why. I think he wanted us to come because he wanted to hurt my mother. My mother's having a real bad time. Sometimes just when I think of my mom, I feel the tears coming and I can't keep from crying."

I put that on tape. And then, as these children grew up, every one of them came back to her, just as soon as—

Kasper: Back to their mother just as soon as they were old enough.

Castleberry: Back to their mother just as soon as they were old enough to make the decision.

Kasper: Isn't that something. So you followed that story for many years.

Castleberry: I followed that story for years. I did. I followed that story from the time it broke. I have the sealed court records that gave the kids to him. It's all pretty much in legal terms, there's not an awful lot here.

Kasper: And did you follow it by staying in touch with Pat herself?

Castleberry: I stayed in touch with Pat herself. I found out when the court hearings were and I went, and so I watched it all unfold.

Kasper: And would she tell you later that the children came back to her?

Castleberry: Oh, yeah. I still follow her.

Kasper: You still follow her.

Castleberry: I still follow her. In fact, interestingly enough, last week I got a letter (I don't know whether this should be on tape or not, but I can make it).

Kasper: Well, it's up to you. Should I shut it off?

Castleberry: Yeah. [Tape interruption.]

Another court case that I had mentioned to you that was an interesting case was that—the young man who brought his child to me. He had sneaked off to another state with his son and brought him back to Dallas under court order to bring him back.

Kasper: To the mother?

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Castleberry: To the court hearing. And before going to court, he stopped by to tell me his sad story about how awful it was to be without his children. And this particular article that I wrote was not published and I wrote a note on here, this was never published, and I really don't know why, but I wanted to skim part of it if I may, and I think it may refresh my memory.

Kasper: Do you want me to turn the tape off for a second?

Castleberry: Yeah. [Tape interruption.]

Kasper: Now this is a custody case that you followed.

Castleberry: This is another custody case that I followed all the way through. It was Lankes versus Lankes.

Kasper: Do you want to put that on?

Castleberry: Yeah. Lankes versus Lankes. And this father had—the mother had custody of the child, and the father had visitation rights. And he forcefully took the child from her at the day care center and took the child to New York State to visit his parents. And he had been court ordered to bring the child back to Dallas for a hearing. And he did. He brought him. But instead of bringing him first to the courthouse for the hearing, he brought him by the Times Herald to talk to me about why he was a young father who needed custody of his child. As it turned out, the young mother was—the child was four, the young mother was, I believe, twenty-eight, and the father was thirty-four. He had been married three times before, had two other children that he had never supported, and didn't see. And his last marriage had lasted only three months. And he said all of his wives had filed suit for divorce for incompatibility. His current marriage had lasted longer than any of the others. It lasted about five or six years, then Charlotte, too, had filed suit for divorce.

Kasper: And she had claimed that he had been physically as well as mentally—

Castleberry: She claimed physically abusive. And he said that he wasn't, but several testimonies indicated that there had probably been some physical abuse in his past marriages. Interestingly enough, it was a jury trial and they had expert witnesses, that is, somebody who had examined the little boy and found him healthy and a delightful child. This was under the custody of the mother that he had turned out to be such a delightful little boy. And the courtroom reunion with his mother was one of extreme enthusiasm and joy. He was so glad to see her.

But the father kept saying that she was abusive to the child. And somehow he managed to convince the jury, which was, I think if I recall correctly, and I could be wrong, but it seems to me that there were seven men and five women on that jury. And the jury awarded custody of the child to the father and the mother then was—she had visitation rights, but the father immediately took him out of state and the last time I saw her, she had changed jobs and was trying—had taken her maiden name back, and was trying to reshape and readjust her life.

I ran into her at the Mental Health Association when I went to visit a friend and she gave me the end of the story that I have here. I had not thought I would ever see her after that court case. I wrote the story as a part of a series on custody cases and I tried to be as fair and honorable as I could. I presented as much as I could of the court case. I do have all the court records here so everything that I have is authentic and real. My own interpretation of it is that, very honestly, custody was awarded to the wrong parent. I think the expert witnesses show that as well as the behavior of the mother. She thinks that she lost custody of her little boy because she did not let her real emotions show in the courtroom; that she was too contained and she was trying to behave in the appropriate manner that you behave in a courtroom—

Kasper: Whatever that is.

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Castleberry: Whatever that is, and she felt like, too, being in tears and she said, "I think I didn't let the jury know how much my child meant to me." And when I saw her afterward, this was some two years after the case had ended, she looked beautiful but haunted. And she was in a professional support group, of families, parents, who had lost their children, trying to understand what had happened to her and to go on with her life.

I wrote this story—I wrote the complete story after everything had transpired, going back over all the court cases and I kept very copious records—I wrote the story and I wrote it as a part of a series on custody cases because at that time I was sitting through some that just broke my heart. And I was beginning to see more and more of fathers winning custody of their children, and I'm not saying that fathers should never win custody of their children at all, but I am saying that the courts very often are using the wrong criteria to evaluate. They use the criteria of quantity, how much money, which parent has the most money and can afford the most things for the kid rather than who will give it the most loving, nurturing home.

So I wrote the story and it was never published as a part of the series on custody. I very honestly cannot remember why. I don't know whether it was one of those things where my management felt, as it sometimes did, that I was being too much of a feminist. They very often thought that. I had one boss tell me one time, I said, "I can't help being a woman!" And he said, "Well, you could try." And he was—

Kasper: Who said that?

Castleberry: One of my bosses. He was trying to be funny and it didn't come off as funny to me at all. But you cannot think outside the framework of who you are.

Kasper: So you think that's your guess that this may have been one of those instances when you were being too much of a feminist.

Castleberry: That's my guess.

Kasper: Can you recall other times when you might have had the same accusation mentioned to you, your being too much of a feminist?

Castleberry: Oh, sure. I can remember one time when my boss had said to me, "You're so predictable," meaning that I usually took the woman's side of the issue.

Kasper: Do you remember what the issues were when you were accused of being predictable or a feminist?

Castleberry: No, I don't—that particular one. I remember one funny story. There was a man in our department that was kind of a—he considered himself a wit, nobody else considered him a wit, but he thought he was a wit. And one day, he greeted me—he was always greeting me as the resident feminist and making it in a loud voice and very clear so that everybody in the department would know who I was. And that got awfully tiring, I just—you know, it got so old. And I had to call his hand on it and remind him that I had a name and that I would appreciate being called by it. He was not in a position of management, he was just one of those tagalongs that give you a bad time.

Kasper: Do you remember what some of those issues were that you got called on the line for? Like this custody case. When you covered the abortion issue, did you often get either articles that went unpublished or called to the floor for being a feminist?

Castleberry: When I covered the abortion issue, I was very aware that this community—well, I never wrote a story with abortion in it that I didn't have hundreds of telephone calls. I mean, that was the one red flag.

Kasper: Telephone calls on both sides of the issue?

Castleberry: Well, no. The people who are for you—only the people that are on your side will say, right on, when they see you, but they don't call you.

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But the people who think that abortion is murder, and that it shouldn't happen under any conditions whatsoever, are extremely volatile and they fire off all of these sayings immediately and they pick up the phone and call. So I just knew when we covered anything with the word abortion in it, I was just set for at least a week of getting nasty telephone calls and nasty—

Kasper: How about letters to the editor?

Castleberry: And letters. And what really is annoying about that is that it saps your energy for going on with your work. If I have to listen to somebody harangue for thirty minutes on the telephone about how awful I am because I printed the story of someone who needed to have an abortion, if I have to listen to that for a period of thirty minutes when I should be editing tomorrow's paper, that is a real wrong use of time. And along about that time, we had one absolutely tremendous individual in this town whose name was Claude Evans and he was the chaplain at Southern Methodist University and who believed in a woman's right to control her own body and of course he was called on the carpet any number of times and I used him really often as an expert because he was just so sane and so intelligent and so reasonable and, of course, people who believe that they should control what other people do with themselves, their lives and their bodies are not reasonable and controlled.

Kasper: Not reasonable in their—?

Castleberry: And controlled, they're out of control.

Kasper: When management would see letters to the editor about some articles you'd written, say, on the abortion issue, what would happen? Would they call you in?

Castleberry: No. They didn't call me in. They let me read the letters to the editor and I always knew they were going to turn up there—always counted them to see how many management this time put the pro ones and the con ones. We'd see if we were keeping appropriate balance in our thinking. [Laughter.]

Kasper: Did management ever tell you not to do any more articles on some of these controversial issues?

Castleberry: No. No. I can't say they—it was a very subtle kind of control that they exercised. I was never told don't cover that subject anymore. What I was told was to be sure you're keeping balance. If you're going to go out and cover the right—the abortion issue, be sure you go and cover what the right-to-life is saying. And they also would be very careful to see that I covered Phyllis Schlafly when she came to town. And I think I said to you yesterday, and I don't know whether it's on tape or not, but I'll say it now for on tape. One of the greatest reasons for my leaving the Times Herald, one of the greatest joys I had, is that I no longer had to call Phyllis Schlafly or go to see her and ask her what she thinks because I know what she thinks. I've interviewed her countless times and I know what she thinks and I know that there is no way that you can impinge or that you can even get beyond that facade that she puts on of—the rhetoric that you hear. One of the things that I was concerned about, many women were, but I was really concerned about how she could go out and preach about how mothers should stay home with their dear sweet little children—

Kasper: Yes, and she never did.

Castleberry: —while she was out. And I kept wanting—see, all those years I kept looking for the other angle, I so badly wanted to interview her kids. I can't tell you how badly I wanted to interview her kids.

Kasper: And you never got to?

Castleberry: I never got to, no.

Kasper: Oh, what a shame.

Castleberry: No, but I did get to interview Marabel Morgan's husband once. She brought him with her to an interview and so I—I can't remember the question

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I asked her, and she turned to him and asked if she could answer that question. And I said— [Laughter.]

Kasper: Some total woman, huh?

Castleberry: I'll tell you how I handled that. It was one of the funniest stories I ever did. I quit interviewing her and started interviewing him. I thought, if she was going to ask him how she should answer it, the answer should at least come from him and after a while she began to look really puzzled. She had come for an interview and here I was talking exclusively to her husband.

I had another one, if I could only remember her name. Do you remember the book called Fascinating Womanhood?

Kasper: No.

Castleberry: Well, it's another one—a right, really extreme right-wing book.

Kasper: Like Total Woman or—?

Castleberry: Like Total Woman only not as well written. The danger with Total Woman is that it is well—fairly decently written.

Kasper: Fascinating Woman, I don't think I've ever heard of.

Castleberry: Well, Fascinating Woman is very poorly written and I'll tell you a funny story about that. I wish I could remember the date, but I can't. The book came across my desk and I picked it up, I brought it home with me that night, as I did a whole lot of stuff, and started looking at it to see what it was. And I read about a dozen pages of it and I said to myself, "Nobody has to read this kind of mess." And I threw it in the wastebasket. The next day I went to work and then the letter came that this woman was coming to town and my management immediately wanted me to go over and interview her. So I had to go buy the book. I had to spend the paper's good money to buy the book so I could read it and see what it had to say.

So I got there that morning to the Fairmont Hotel for the interview, and when I knocked on the door, her fifteen-year old son came to the door because this woman could not travel alone. She needed male protection. So her fifteen-year old son answered the door and then she came waltzing in and she was dressed—this was nine o'clock in the morning and she was dressed in a white eyelet skirt and a voile top with ruffles at the top, and a pink ribbon around her neck holding a cameo, and pink ribbons in her hair and pink slippers. [Laughter.] And so I did the interview and I left the hotel and I almost never published what a woman wore but that time—

Kasper: You couldn't help yourself.

Castleberry: —it seemed to be a part of the story. But what was so funny was that when I walked into the paper, two of the men were giggling and they almost—this time they thought it was funny—they almost met me at the elevator when I got off the elevator. This woman had already called my management and had said to them not to let that woman publish—

[End Tape 3, Side A; Begin Tape 3, Side B]

Castleberry: —at the elevator and that time it was funny to them, this woman had called and—it was Bob Hollingsworth that she had called, he was my boss at the time. I had lots of bosses, I mean, it was a revolving door of bosses. And he met me almost at the elevator and he was giggling and he said she had called up and said that that woman should not publish that story; she didn't know how to give a good interview. And Bob, of all of the characteristics, he could say the most in the fewest lines of anybody I know. And he said to her (calling her name up), "I am sure that Mrs. Castleberry has been doing interviews longer than you have been giving them." That was his answer to her. So, anyway, I couldn't resist. And I did get my hand slightly slapped that time for printing what she wore. They didn't think it was appropriate for me to print what she wore at nine o'clock in the morning.

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Kasper: Did you ever think about moving to another section of the paper—to city side or—?

Castleberry: No. No.

Kasper: Why?

Castleberry: Because I was where I could do the most good.

Kasper: In what sense?

Castleberry: I was doing the kind of thing I wanted to do. I was doing the kinds of things that are critical to our lives, critical to the wholeness of our lives, and people on city side don't get to do that. I watched them day in and day out. They would go to city side and they would be assigned a beat and they would cover education, and at first it would be fascinating and thrilling, and then it was the same old thing and they would get bored and nobody—there wasn't any relief from it. And I think it's wonderful when you have reporters who are specialists in their fields, and I usually made it my business to talk to the specialists—I always made it my business to talk to a specialist in any department that I was working in, or any subject. But I didn't want to get channeled into the trenches of doing one thing.

Kasper: So it's not that education didn't fascinate you in what you write or—

Castleberry: On education or crime or—

Kasper: Politics or whatever.

Castleberry: All of it fascinated me. That's the reason I wanted to stay. All of it fascinated me and I got to do a little of all of it. I got to interview politicians and politicians' wives; I got to interview elected officials and their wives; and I used to ask the men the same questions I asked the women, and that really undid them, because they weren't used to being asked about their wives, their children and home life and what they did with their extracurricular hours and who they played golf with. And I was interested in that. I mean, they didn't know that that was part of the news story. And I got to interview—sometimes entertainers, if they fascinated me, I would interview them. Most entertainers are so narrow in their scope that I didn't find them intriguing, but people like—Lily Tomlin, for instance, or Cher, or people that have a dimension to them that has never been reported. I loved to find the dimension of individuals that hadn't been held up to the mirror before and to talk about the kinds of things that—and I hated press conferences. I always went to the press conferences when they were held because something might happen that I wouldn't know.

Kasper: What do you mean you hated press conferences?

Castleberry: Press conferences, you know, where very important people come to town and their publicist will arrange a press conference for them and all the press comes in.

Kasper: And it's all staged.

Castleberry: And it's all staged. And you never—I wouldn't dare ask an important question in a press conference because everybody then has access to the answer. And if I'm going to be competitive in my reporting at all, and I am competitive in, I think, I hope, in a gentle way, but I always said, never give me an exclusive, but give me equal opportunity with the story and I'll beat you every time. [Laughter.]

For instance, one of the specifics, when Rosalynn Carter came to town, she was going to hold a press conference but not see the individual press. And I kept pushing and pushing and pushing for just, I said, five minutes, when I can see her by herself is all I would ask. Well, they just weren't doing this for anybody and they couldn't do it for me either. But I found out who was picking her up at the airport and I called her and asked if I could ride out with her. [Laughter.]

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And she said, "Sure." So I rode out with her and back with her and I got more in that thirty minute ride from the airport—

Kasper: Who were you riding with?

Castleberry: I can't remember who it was. It was somebody that was a good Democrat in town that had picked her up at the airport. And I got more out of that thirty minute drive back from the airport than the press conference would have divulged in two weeks of a staged thing.

I think I may have been one of the first reporters—I think I may have been, I don't know because you never know what is yours, that is original with you, and what you could have read somewhere back there and picked up, and I don't ever want to claim words that are not mine—but I think I may have been one of the first persons that called her the steel glove, the steel hand in the velvet glove and—

Kasper: The steel magnolia.

Castleberry: Right. The steel magnolia.

Kasper: So you may have coined that term.

Castleberry: I could have. I won't certainly take credit for that because I could have read it somewhere, but that was certainly the feeling that I got, although I have great admiration and respect for that woman. Her ability is absolutely phenomenal.

Kasper: Well I think steel magnolia can be taken either way. I took it positively because I like her too.

Castleberry: Well, personally she is just such dynamite. I would feel comfortable with her running my country any day as I would feel comfortable with a lot of women I know running my country.

Kasper: You know, the paper, the women's section, and in particular many of your articles, won a number of awards. Would you like to talk about some of that?

Castleberry: Yeah. Our awards were very numerous and very appreciated and also I would like to add that I learned real early on that an award is useful only at the time that it's being given, and you can enjoy it, but you must never be caught up there and think that this is that you've reached it.

Kasper: Why is that?

Castleberry: Well, because people who—

Kasper: You can't rest on your laurels?

Castleberry: Take the bows. You can't rest on your laurels. People who take the bows and accept the applause and then don't do anything else, very quickly get stale and rusty. And also, there's another thing that is very true, and that is that news is only as good as today's headlines. What happened yesterday is of no account and what is going to happen tomorrow is all promise and you can't—you've got to go back every day to the computer and write the story and see that it's headlined appropriately, get it in the page, and get it out there for somebody to share with you the message that you're telling. And you've got to do that tomorrow, and you've got to do it the next day, and you cannot afford to congratulate yourself for too long on any of the awards that you've won.

Although, I will tell you that they felt good at the time. One of the things that my husband did for me that—he told me, he said to me very early on, "Honey, never sneeze at what people give you when they give you their best." And that happened when I had been nominated by Delta Kappa Gamma, which is a teachers honorary organization. And I had been nominated for an honorary membership in Delta Kappa Gamma, and I, at the time, was so overwhelmed with being so many things and doing so many things and being so involved with so much of life, and I made the mistake of saying to Curt, "I don't need that, you know, that's awfully

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nice of them to offer, but I don't want membership in anything else for whatever reasons." And that's when Curt said to me, never sneeze at the best that people give you. Always accept it with joy and be grateful that they have done this for you. And it was a wonderful learning lesson for me. From then on, when people gave me an award, I thanked them, and took the bows and enjoyed the applause and enjoyed the smiles and congratulations and then I got up the next morning to prove myself again.

Kasper: Well, you, in turn, have also given a number of awards and a number of women I have spoken to have said that as a woman the greatest honor in Dallas is to be given an award by Vivian Castleberry. So you are much admired in this city, in turn, in giving awards to women here in this city.

Castleberry: The thing, I think what you may be referring to is that up until this year I presented every—the first time the Women's Center gave an award, I was given one and after that I presented them every year, until this year. And I told them early on that I wouldn't give them this year because I didn't think it should become an institution. I think somebody else should do it and she did and she did a good job of it—beautifully done. But what I do is probably what nobody else in the world does, and that is that I study each individual in depth. It takes a long time. I take the material that's given me by the Women's Center from the awardees; I call her up; I have a personal interview with her; I talk to her friends; I talk to her significant others, whomever they may be, to her children. And out of this always comes a unique human being.

Kasper: And a biographical sketch.

Castleberry: And a biographical sketch that breathes and that has life to it. And what is such a joy about doing it is that each human being is so different. And you can take the same chain of events, the same kinds of schools that a person went to, and the same honors they've won, the same everything—

Kasper: The historical period that they've lived through.

Castleberry: —everything, and yet you can find underneath that the unique human being that is totally different from anybody else. And most of the people that I have presented awards to have been grateful that I have tried to find, and probably mostly succeeded in finding, the thing that made her different from everybody else. And I think that's the reason they say that.

Kasper: That's what Gail Smith said. She said to be introduced by Vivian Castleberry is really a tribute to that woman and the sense of, as you say, the uniqueness that you address in that introduction that you make to that person is a large part of the tribute. It's really something that, she said, year after year women in Dallas would look forward to, and it's in part a shame that you've stopped doing it because I think that probably a lot of women out there in Dallas had their fingers crossed that you'd come along and introduce them.

Castleberry: Well, you know, there's another part of that too. What was such a pleasure for me was that in every sense, it was rare that somebody won that I didn't know. So it was such a pleasure to get to introduce my friends to my friends. That's what was such a joy that I could have that whole captive audience to tell these wonderful things about this woman. I got, of course, to do—I've done different kinds from Nancy Brinker to Gail Smith to—oh, there have just been so many of them. I was trying to think who was it who said to me after I did her introduction, she had her family here from out of state, her parents from out of state, and she had a table of a husband and children and family and parents and sister, a whole bunch of people. And I can't remember who it was who said to me afterwards, "Will you do my funeral service when I die." [Laughter.] And I said, "Well, I'd be glad to, but I don't think there's any way that I'm going to outlive you." [Note added by V. Castleberry: It was Joy Mankoff.]

Kasper: Or plan for it now. Well, let's get back to some of the awards that the Living section or the women's pages won. Do you remember the Katies?

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Castleberry: The Katies were offered by the Dallas Press Club and we won—let's see, we won a number of Katies. They're I think on your list over there, I can't remember when they were or what they were.

Kasper: Well, there are no dates here. I looked up the J.C. Penney Awards, I have some dates for those. Do you remember what the Katies were awarded for?

Castleberry: The Katies were awarded of course for—well, one of them was for page makeup and that's when I said that I really am not a page makeup artist, but some things are just so obvious that you—the pictures just speak and the language speaks and the type speaks and it tells you what to do with it if you listen to it. And anybody can do it. With a real good story and real good pictures and a real good type you can put it together. But two or three of them were for writing, for stories that I had done.

Kasper: Do you remember what those stories were?

Castleberry: One of them was for the story on the neighborhood power, on the first integrated neighborhood in Dallas. And one of them is for a series of stories that I haven't told you about. No. Yeah, that won a press club award and then it won a state UPI writing award. It was called "The Good Marriage."

Kasper: Now what was that?

Castleberry: I did a series of stories on what it takes to make and keep a marriage good. And this was way back like in 1960—the early '60s. And the way I did that, I still think it's wonderful because I'm not a sociologist and I don't know how to quantify or qualify material except that I know how to get it. And what I did was go to ministers and social workers and outstanding individuals in this town and I said to them, "Can you tell me who among your friends or associates, from your perspective, are the most—the best married couple that you know whose marriage is really working." And I did this with my pediatrician, and I did it with Jerry Lewis at the Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital, and I did it, you know, with top-notch ministers and all over. And then I took these names and I wrote to them and the letter said something like, "You have been recommended by—" Let's see, "From all outward appearances, you have an ideal marriage. If you agree with this, will you please fill out the following questionnaire." And it was a letter that covered all of the things that go—as nearly as I could, I covered all of the—I gave them every out that they could take and I also said, "I am not keeping a record of these letters, so I will not know who has responded. This is a blind thing—if you care to sign your name, I would appreciate it because I would love to call you later and I would love to get some follow-up quotes, but it isn't necessary."

And I don't remember how many I sent out, but I got one hundred responses. I did. I got one hundred responses and most of those were both husband and wife because I sent the questionnaire to both husband and wife. And the responses were tear jerking. One man wrote, this is the first time I have had a chance to say in public what I have long thought in private about my wonderful wife of thirty-five years. And then, he went on and outlined—they are still happily married having just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

And the thing that triggered this, we had had the president, the executive director of the American Marriage Counselors Association here in town, and he had said in a public address, only one marriage out of every ten that reaches the twentieth anniversary is a happy marriage. So I took that as my cue and then I started looking for the happy marriages to see what kinds of characteristics went into those. And it was a wonderful exercise. And then I went out personally and I talked to any number of different experts in the field, and we'd try it out on them.

One of the funny stories that will interest you—one of the people that I talked to was an Episcopal priest who during the session—during the interview that I was doing with him was interrupted three times with telephone calls from his wife. And it was all this, honey, gooey stuff back and forth, and so I was getting a little bored with all this but, you know, you can't do anything but sit there and listen to it all the way through. So, along the way, he started quoting the Bible to me—the role of a good wife. And I listened to it, and I listened to it. That's hard to do, you know, being a feminist, that's hard to do. So, I went on and

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completed my interview and got it all finished and then I closed my tablet and I said to him, "Father Norman, I will allow you to take St. Paul as your expert on women if you will allow me to take Jesus Christ as mine." [Laughter.] And from then on several times I saw him in a grocery store and he didn't speak to me. He turned his cart the other way. But I got, of course, the whole thing across the whole board of the people who thought that a wife should be submissive, but for the most part—

Kasper: So that won a Katie and a state UPI award?

Castleberry: It won the state UPI award and the little certificate that I got from the state UPI was—it's a hoot, I have laughed and laughed about it, it said, "For her series on marriage, a fresh treatment of a very mundane subject." [Laughter.]

Kasper: That gave you a good laugh.

Castleberry: I can tell you that some man thought that up.

Kasper: That's sort of like one of my pet issues, as you know, is how women do report stories. Do you feel that as a reporter over the years that you added a special dimension to this?

Castleberry: I think women add special dimensions if they're allowed to speak their own voices. I think so often women have been trained not to be (quote) "emotional" and to be terribly objective that very often their real voices do not come through. But I think that for the most part, you can, as you have pointed out to me, most of the time you can tell whether a man has written a story or a woman has written a story even if it doesn't have a byline. And I think the reason for that is just the kind of conditioning that we get. Women reporters were female before they were reporters and the kinds of training that they get as reporters will get as much of that out of them as it can because they're trained mostly by men, and they're trained to be objective, and they're trained to be investigative, and they're trained to count how many and how much and how long, and you're literally trained to find the who, what, when, where and why.

And what has always appalled me about that is that the first of the "W's" is the who, and that's where I stop. If I can find out who you are, I can pretty well tell what you are, and why you are, and how you are, and almost all the other things follow who you are. And I think that's what we have forgotten in American journalism is that the who is the almighty important question. And I think women instinctively know that, whether or not it's instinct—my sociologist friends quibble with me over whether or not it's an ingrained condition, but at least it's there and I don't know whether it came with the womb or it came with the territory, but it's still more in women than it is in men and unless you legislate it out, it will come through in the story. And it's a softer touch, it's a more inclusive touch, it's a more human kind of reporting.

Kasper: Charlie Dameron, when I spoke to him, and we've mentioned him before, said a very interesting thing. He said that he felt that women made much better feature writers than men. He said they were much more sensitive to the human side. That he doesn't understand why, but they have a basic instinct where they understand what it is that people do and why they do what they do, and that they're able to capture that in writing. He said he thinks that women, just straight out of the block, make better feature writers than men reporters do.

Now, he said some other things you don't want to hear about—that women aren't qualified to be on the city side and they can't capture the flavor of foreign affairs and politics and so forth, and they can't stand the stress because they're too emotional and, of course, that would just defeat their ability to go to the heights or the pinnacles of journalism.

But he did say something similar to what you are saying, which is that he feels that there's a whole human side of the news that women capture far better than any man he's ever met in journalism. And so there's a point of agreement there that you both share. And I think that is what you're saying, there's a dimension here that women, either because of instinct or socialization, are able to capture when they're capturing this part of the news that's vital. I don't think we should

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trivialize it as maybe some people do. I think it, in fact, is what you're saying—the essential part of the news.

Castleberry: Well, see, that's the tragedy. It has been left out. If anything has had to be left out, that's the part of the news that has been left out. And the news hole is only so big and advertising takes up the rest of it so if it comes—when push comes to shove, and throughout history, the human side of the news has been left on the cutting room floor while the international affairs—who blew whose head off—is the important thing that people want to know. And as long as newspapers are controlled exclusively by men and the vote is by males, exclusively, that will continue to prevail.

Kasper: Do you think that when you were appointed as the first woman member of the editorial board of the Dallas Times Herald that that was one of those opportunities where you could begin to make that kind of a difference in the measure of control?

Castleberry: It was. And many of my friends have been very unhappy with me because I did not stay on the editorial board. I literally took myself off.

Kasper: Why?

Castleberry: Because I could not do everything that was expected of me.

Kasper: On the board?

Castleberry: I could not continue to run a staff and to be responsible for the Living section and to—what happened was that Tom Johnson, bless him, came to town and put me on the editorial board and I was—I thought that I had now hit some kind of pinnacle and that was one of those times when I walked the streets with Curtis at night. I'll never forget walking around this block and saying to him, "I don't know whether I can do that or not." I assumed that the editorial department was an erudite place where earth-shaking decisions were made and my husband would say to me, "Of course you can do it, anybody, you know, can do it. You can read the editorials in the paper and you've been writing for, yea, these many years and of course you can do it, and you will probably need to pick the subjects that you're most interested in because you won't be interested in writing an editorial column on everything, but they will give you some leeway. So, don't worry about it." So I came home the next night and Curtis said, "Well, how did it go?" And I said, "You are not going to believe—we spent the first thirty minutes talking about last night's Cowboy football score." [Laughter.] So much for the erudite meetings.

Kasper: High intellectual caliber of the editorial board.

Castleberry: And I did, I enjoyed—in the first place, I was lonely there. I was the only woman, there were several men and although the men were not of a single mind, the male attitude prevailed. That was number one.

Number two, it was a waste of time. Men waste more time in public meetings, I cannot tell you! I have been the token woman in countless meetings that men run. And for the most part—of course, I understand that the way men go about doing a thing and the way a woman goes about doing it, are different. I understand that. But they talk about women being scatter-brained and wasting their time. You get into a meeting with men and they make earth-shaking decisions in five minutes, after they have spent countless time talking about the most trivial kinds of things. And, but about as far as most men can go is sports and sometimes they'll get around to the headline news, but not often. It's usually things that are right in front of their nose like sports, where they're going golfing tomorrow and this sort of thing, and it's a waste of time.

So, number one, I felt lonely; number two, I felt like it was a waste of my time; and number three, I was still trying to run a staff. And those editorial board meetings were at exactly the same time that I had traditionally had my staff meetings—in the early morning when everybody first came in and they were fresh, and we could have fifteen to twenty minutes of hard-nosed what the day's news is and where we each need to be and whose going to be reporting on what and what time you are to report in, and how long you have to do the story and this sort of thing.

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So I just gradually took myself off. I would not go to a meeting and then next week I wouldn't go to two meetings. My women friends were upset. But, I was appointed as a token and I withdrew as the token, and I still think it was a good decision. You cannot survive everything and that was one thing that I could not handle at that point in my life.

I think I did a little bit of good. I think I presented—I know I presented an attitude or an angle that had never been presented before which now is that I looked—I looked at things as a woman looks at things. For instance, one of the editorial commentaries that I did that got a lot of comment and a lot of rebuttal was on the Vietnam War. And if our son had lived, he would have been exactly the right age to have been in Vietnam. And so I wrote the article, it was very personal to me, and I wish I had it here because I would like to make that a part of the tape. But the article had to do with if my son were alive today, he would be drafted or would certainly be subject to draft. And if he chose to go to Canada, he would have his mother's blessings. It was in that vein. And, of course, the hardliners in town, I got a tremendous amount of flack and from many mothers and many wives and a few nice young men, I got an embracing, arms around for being so honest in print and giving the other view, because that was very early in Vietnam, it was largely before people had divided on the different sides and before the real hard-nosed confrontations.

I also did an article on abortion once that I wish I had for you because it was very even-handed. It simply said that I will not choose what you do with your life and I will not allow you to choose what I do with mine. Just that simple.

Kasper: You know, one of the other awards that you were given in '65, and I believe again in '67, were the J.C. Penney/University of Missouri Awards.

Castleberry: The J.C. Penney/University of Missouri Awards and that—well, first going to the University of Missouri to Columbia was an exciting experience because the workshops there, the weekly workshops on women's news were also—

Kasper: That coincides with the giving of the award, is that what that is?

Castleberry: Um unh. And then the next year I would win an award. When I'd go to it, I would win an award. The workshops were so well done and the awards, of course, were—they came after the fact. And, speaking of awards, I had one boss one time who didn't want me to enter anything. He didn't think awards did anything for the paper, he said.

Kasper: Is that right?

Castleberry: Yeah.

Kasper: But wasn't the paper pleased when you won these awards, generally speaking?

Castleberry: I got nice notes from them. I think, for the most part, it made it more difficult to handle. I really do.

Kasper: In what sense?

Castleberry: Well, because if I were getting that much applause from the public, what could they do with this woman they couldn't really control?

Kasper: Did you have that sense as you began to come to the end of your career that you were kind of an entity in your right, an institution in your own right at that paper?

Castleberry: Sure. I did. I had that feeling and I still have that feeling. It is something that hasn't gone away because when I am in this community, even today, there are so many people, there are so many people who say, "I wish you were there," and there are so many people who say, "I wish you were back"—staff members. And that's a neat feeling, it's a good feeling and I appreciate it. I wouldn't do it again for any amount of money for anybody.

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Kasper: You wouldn't go back?

Castleberry: No. And also, let me say this, I would never say never. It's like when I tell my husband, "I will never marry again. I will live in sin if I want to, but I won't marry again." Having done it once, I've done it. But nobody should ever say never because you don't know what the circumstances are going to be, but I've done that. It was a good life and I've done it—

Kasper: When you look back on your career, and we'll talk a little bit about the circumstances of your retirement before we end this, but when you look back on your career, what is the legacy you think you left as a journalist?

Castleberry: The legacy—?

Kasper: Either right here in Dallas or beyond.

Castleberry: I think I probably left an example for women that if you are sufficiently determined and well prepared that you can open options that have been closed to women in the past. I think that I gave nurturance and appreciation to many younger women who—and I still do that, I still write notes of appreciation when I see an especially good article in—mostly Dallas papers, but I've fired off letters to the New York Times too saying, you know, that was a wonderful article because we don't get much of that. What we get is the rebuttal. What we get are the people who don't agree with it. But very seldom do we get the "well done." And even management, for the most part, tends to tell you what you did wrong rather than what you did right.

And so I think I have continued a legacy of applauding women for the good things that they do and appreciation for the kinds of human stories that we've been talking about that are finding their way into print. I think I set a pattern. I think I opened doors for some women by pushing hard that got maternity rights. I was one of the pioneers that—I was the first person that the Times Herald ever gave a leave of absence to for a baby, and although they didn't pay me for anything during that period of time, they at least let me come back with a clean record.

Kasper: You set a precedence for other women.

Castleberry: And I set a precedent and I don't think now they would dare tell a young woman that you cannot—you have to resign your job because you're pregnant. I probably also proved to some people that women can do what they say they will do and that they not only can do it, but they will do it, they will deliver. I gave dimensions to stories that wouldn't have been there if I hadn't been, such as the Kennedy assassination story which I was on from the morning that the Kennedys got to town until we closed out that weekend—that tragic weekend.

Kasper: Dimension—the kind of dimension that we were talking about before—the human dimension, the personal and sensitive—

Castleberry: Right. The personal and sensitive and—I don't say that you see things differently than what a man does, but for the most part you do. Most women see things that—for instance, just one for instance. During the Kennedy assassination story coverage, I was at the Trade Mart covering that story and waiting for the Kennedys to arrive and, of course, they never did. And I saw the Washington press corps burst in the side door and I knew that something awful had happened because he was late, late, late and we were just waiting and nothing had happened. And so I had been told that we could not leave our seats after we were seated—the President comes in after everybody gets seated—you are not to leave your seat. And I could not—when I saw Bob Hollingsworth, who was our Washington Bureau Chief, burst through that side door and head for a telephone, I followed him. I couldn't stay seated any longer. And he and I together kept the lines open from the Trade Mart to the paper, and while he would go out and collect other information, I'd hold the phone for him so he'd have a phone. And we were feeding in information.

And I certainly was seeing things that he was not seeing, such as, I went into the room that had been set up at the Trade Mart for Kennedy's personal use.

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Right at the front of the Trade Mart there was a little room that had been set up for his personal use and the red telephone was in it. And I saw that and I also saw the cowboy hat that had been placed there for him. And I saw the gifts that had been placed there for him to take back to the children. And I don't know whether a man would have seen those things or not, but I saw them. The interesting thing was how much information hit the cutting room floor over that weekend because there was so much happening.

And I still think one of the best stories that I have ever written hit the cutting room floor that weekend and it still makes me sick. I think I've got it somewhere. I have not been able to find it recently. That afternoon, after I had left the Trade Mart and gone out to Parkland Hospital, and then, you know, had made the circuit and had returned to the paper, the paper was beginning to fill up with out-of-town correspondents and our paper was wonderful. They called us together and said, "Help people in whatever way you can; lend them your typewriter, you know, give them anything they need; give them any help that they want. Don't get in their way. If they ask questions, answer them. Don't question anything." It's the hardest thing in the world to sit there and hear somebody on my telephone talking about the Dallas Parkland Hospital being located where the Dallas Courthouse is. Now that was tough, but I did it because that was what I was supposed to do.

But after I got back, I got a telephone call from my first cousin who was the assistant to Abraham Zapruder who took the photographs of the assassination. And when Peggy got on the phone, she said to me, "Vivian, I saw a president die today." I said, "Peggy, don't say another word until I put a piece of paper in the typewriter." And I got her first-person story through sobs. And it never saw the light of day. And this was a woman who was standing at Zapruder's left elbow while he was handling the camera, and she was holding the extra film, and she was holding, you know, the tape, and she was doing all these things.

Kasper: And you think it didn't make the paper just because there was so—

Castleberry: Oh, there was too much. There was too much volume. Just too much. I don't think that was anything that was calculated or it certainly wasn't done to—it was just a good story that never saw the light of day.

Kasper: Here's another deep question like the legacy question. Do you think that given the legacy you've left that journalism is different today?

Castleberry: No.

Kasper: Why?

Castleberry: I wish it were. I think a lot of things have moved into journalism. In the last few years we have been in a changing time and Watergate has made us even more apprehensive about reporting the human side of things. We are going for the jugular.

Kasper: The jugular in what sense?

Castleberry: The jugular in that we are looking for the things that don't work instead of the things that do work. We are trying to find the rotten egg under every laurel leaf, so to speak. And I think that eventually it's going to make a difference. I think we are going through—history never comes to terms with its times that it's going through, you've got to get beyond it and look back to see what you did. And I think right now we are only beginning to realize that journalism, and print journalism especially, has an obligation to the world that no other role can fill. Television can't do it. Television is instant use and it's gone. I do think that eventually the kind of reporting that I did and the kind of reporting that women do and the kind reporting that is occasionally creeping in from some of the men, is going to be the mode of the future. But we're not there yet. And it depends a lot on what happens in international affairs because we are now very definitely an international community. And the way we have reported in the past on events that have come out of other countries is a sin. It is sinful in how limited we are in our understanding of other peoples' cultures and other peoples' religions and other peoples' lifestyles.

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Kasper: The cultural context.

Castleberry: In a cultural context. We just assume that we are right because it's us.

Kasper: And we always apply a Western framework to every—

Castleberry: We apply a Western framework to everything. And just recently—I think some of the best reporting today is being done by the new Christian Science magazine which looks at all—

Kasper: Is that the title of it, "The New Christian—"?

Castleberry: No. What is the name of it? [Note added by V. Castleberry: World Monitor, The Christian Science monthly magazine.] It's a fairly new publication and I try to read too much, but that's one thing that I read and I read it carefully. It had one of the most beautiful articles recently by Brazelton—

Kasper: The pediatrician, T. Berry Brazelton.

Castleberry: The pediatrician, who has come light years away from keeping women in the home and tied to the baby. And this was looking at child care as a development for a whole person's future—the future of a whole person. And they also have covered—recently they covered child care as it impacts children in four of the world's leading countries—America, the Soviet Union, Japan and—I can't remember where else, but anyway how we unconsciously inculcate our children to behave in a manner that the culture expects them to. And I do think that kind of reporting is cutting edge of change reporting and I do think that it's going to catch on a lot. And I do see some bylines—I can't remember who—Peter Applebaum, maybe—a few tender notes that are creeping in that tell me that we're beginning to concentrate on the who of journalism rather than so much on the what and the how and the when.

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