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Ritchie: I thought we could start by your telling me a little bit about your mother [Ellen Weinstein Holtz] and father [Jackson Jacob Holtz] and their background.
Goodman: My father was the fourth child of his family, who were German Jewish immigrants, and he was the first born in America. I could figure out how old he would be, but I'm sure you can, too. He grew up in the West End of Boston in quite a poor family. His mother ran a small grocery store, and his father, as far as I was ever able to tell, didn't do much of anything. He was a philosopher, perhaps. But not that he was a ne'er-do-well. I think they just ran this grocery store, but his mother actually ran the grocery store. My father didn't talk all that much about his childhood, except to tell sort of stories about it, because I think it wasn't unhappy, but it wasn't tremendously happy. He was part of that generation of immigrants who jumped almost two classes in one generation in some ways. I would say that though his parents were Jewish, he had no religious upbringing at all; in fact, his father was an atheist. And he was not Bar Mitzvahed, which was very unusual for that generation.
He went to Boston English High School, which was what we call a magnet school, and started college when he was about fifteen.
Ritchie: What would they have called the school in those days?
Goodman: Maybe an exam school. There was Boston Latin and Boston English. I'm not sure what they would have called it. He went to Boston University when he was fifteen, on what was called a James M. Storrow Fellowship. Years later, my father was a state legislator, and he named Storrow Drive after James. Storrow was an old Boston Yankee. He had that scholarship, and he went to B.U. and B.U. Law School in a five-year program, something like that—it's all a little fuzzy—and wrote for what was then called the Bean Pot. I have some strange old publications, including some truly sophomoric humor that he wrote. He was a very lively, very articulate, very attractive young man. I've seen pictures of him.
He became a lawyer. As a young man, he became a state representative from what was then Ward Fourteen, which was the old Jewish district; now it's Roxbury; Mattapan, Blue Hills Avenue. It's a black district mostly. Ward Fourteen was a Jewish district at that time, and he was the first of the new generation to be a legislator from there; there had been quite a different, less educated, more immigrant representative. The campaign that he ran to become a state legislator was actually a changing of the guard at that time. He became a state legislator. We're now in the thirties, early thirties. In fact, [he] introduced child labor legislation into the State of Massachusetts. Years and years and years later, Tip O'Neill would remember—he's one of these people with extraordinary memories—and he would remember my father's speech about child
labor, and told me about it in great detail, which was very charming, which was very sweet of Tip, and very charming.
Ritchie: What would his position have been?
Goodman: He was also a state legislator at that time. Then he became a U.S. attorney, then went into private practice with David Rose. I was born in 1941.
Meanwhile, we got up to my birth. [Laughter.] My mother was born to a family who had been in this country a good many more generations in New York. Her father was a salesman, and he had the 19,344th car in Massachusetts, and we still have the license plate that says 19,344, my mother does. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: So that was your grandfather.
Goodman: That was my grandfather. My grandmother came from a fairly well-to-do family of furriers in New York also, and she was described to me many years later by her sisters-in-law, who I was visiting with in San Francisco, as having been a very avant garde woman, in their minds, both religiously, because they didn't stop everything on Saturday, and also culturally, because apparently she was a stenographer for a little while. From their perspective of peers at that moment, which would have been in the World War I era, they described her as quite avant garde. I did not know her that way. My grandparents married, my mother was born before suffrage, which gives you an idea of how fast history is. My mother is seventy-eight, so she was born in 1915. They moved up here, where my grandfather's work was, and from what I knew of my grandmother, she was, to me, very loving and very neurotic, a total cleanliness freak. And my grandfather was a salesman, had a wholesale business, and also a very charming man, very loving to me. We used to watch ball games together and that sort of thing.
My mother grew up in Brookline, went to the Devotion School not far from here. She was the oldest of three children. Her sister lives next door to me. My aunt and uncle live next door. She went to Brookline High School, and she went to one year of Emerson College, then left college, partially Depression—the Depression, not her depression—and partially, I think, the times. My mother was quite a beautiful, shy woman, and her descriptions—and I'm sure they're accurate—of meeting my father were ones of being quite smitten and sort of overwhelmed—he was a very strong, gregarious person—but overwhelmed in a way that she liked. [Laughter.] They were married in the mid-thirties, and my sister [Jane Holtz Kay] was born in 1938. I was born in 1941.
Ritchie: So there's a three-year difference.
Goodman: Two years, nine months.
Ritchie: You were born here in the Boston area?
Goodman: That's right.
Ritchie: And you've always lived here, for the most part?
Ritchie: Tell me about your sister. She was a few years older than you. Were you close as you were growing up?
Goodman: My sister and I have always been close. In fact, I really don't remember having a fight with her. We must have, but it's so rare. I think I was the adoring younger sister. At times she, I'm sure, tortured me, just from the memories that we both have of her telling me stories to make me do what she wanted me to do, you know, and then "The big sister died because the little sister wouldn't get her a glass of water," and I would go trotting off and get her a glass of water. Typical, you know. She would play with her friends, and I would want to play, and she'd say, "You can be the baby. Go to sleep." [Laughter.] But my sister and I have always been very close, very close.
Ritchie: Was there any rivalry as you were growing up, in terms of school or who did one thing better?
Goodman: I've talked about this both with Jane and with my mother. In retrospect, I think I always had this idea that I had to do at least almost as well as Jane. She always did very well in school, and I always did just about as well in school. But there must be something a little funny, because we used to laugh, because when we played tennis, as young adults, I was a better tennis player, and I could beat most of the people who could beat my sister, and I couldn't beat my sister. I mean, this is all the way till we're in our thirties. [Laughter.] So we decided that was definitely psychological.
Ritchie: You stayed in your position as the second.
Goodman: Yes, somehow or other. I don't know. I just assume that.
Ritchie: So you were close growing up, and as you got older, did you have some friends that overlapped?
Goodman: Not really, no.
Ritchie: The two years was enough difference.
Goodman: Right. Until we were in college together. Again, I sort of followed her lead. She was at Radcliffe before I was.
Ritchie: What grade school did you attend?
Goodman: Driscoll School.
Ritchie: In the Brookline area?
Goodman: This is going to get boring. They were all in Brookline. I went to the Runkle School when my parents moved out of the apartment, into a house.
Ritchie: Were these public schools?
Ritchie: Do you remember some of the classes that you especially liked?
Goodman: I always liked school. Like most kids, I think I remember the teachers more than the courses. My second-grade teacher was memorable, Mrs. Fleishman. Funny how you never, ever remember their first names, whatever they might have been. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: Mrs. something. Yes. Why do you remember her in particular?
Goodman: My memory is not the greatest on these things, and sometimes I count more on my sister or my mother, because I don't have that great a memory. I remember her just very clearly as interesting. The classroom was always exciting. I think the only teacher I had trouble with—and it was clearly something screwy going on—was in third grade, where I had one teacher who clearly did not like me, and my mother says, with pretty good storytelling conviction, that this was a woman who didn't like my style. I was always very—not strong-willed in an obnoxious sense, but I always was very outgoing. My mother thinks I was much happier than she (the teacher) was. [Laughter.] And she did funny things. We used to get graded "outstanding," "satisfactory," "unsatisfactory," and I would get all Os and then a U in penmanship, or a red E in penmanship. Penmanship? [Laughter.]
Ritchie: So there was a little something there.
Goodman: Right. But there were no lasting scars from that.
Ritchie: Do you remember some of your activities outside of the classroom?
Goodman: I started going to camp when I was quite young. I went to the same camp, Camp Woodlands, for ten years. That was a big part of my life. We did the things little kids did at that time. We went to ballet class for a little bit. Mostly we played outside. We lived in an apartment house with a courtyard that was U-shaped in the back. It's right near here. It's U-shaped in the back, and the back had a concrete floor. There were a bunch of kids, and we used to play games. I can still visually remember the little sewer that was home base. We used to play ball games a lot in the afternoon, of one kind or another. I would say that we did that almost every afternoon. We lived near the library, and we'd walk over. We lived near the little grocery store.
Ritchie: Do you remember learning to read, when you learned to read, or some of the early books you might have read, some of your favorite books during your grade-school years?
Goodman: The only thing I remember is I always read well out loud and was proud of it, in a funny way. I got it fast. I don't remember learning to read. My mother will probably kill me, but I don't remember her sitting down and reading to me, which I'm sure she did. [Laughter.] And I'm sure my daughter [Katie Goodman] doesn't remember me sitting down and reading to her.
Ritchie: It's amazing what they don't remember, isn't it?
Goodman: Yes, although my daughter has a much better memory than I.
Ritchie: Do you remember what some of your favorite books were, growing up?
Goodman: I do. I remember the things that are still around that jog my memory. I certainly remember Make Way For Ducklings, and I remember all those God-forsaken Dick and Jane books at school. I remember my sister read through Nancy Drew front to back, we had these. We had the Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm series. They're all awful! [Laughter.] Awful!
Ritchie: The Bobbsey Twins.
Goodman: Garbage! The Bobbsey Twins, all that junk.
Ritchie: Did your parents have different expectations for you and your sister?
Goodman: I think my sister had a harder time in some ways. My parents had high expectations for us, but my sister was the first child. I think she got a little bit more of that than I did, by the time I came around. Also I think people have different roles in families, and part of my role was, in retrospect, being funny or lightening up.
Jane and I have talked about the one event that I have never forgotten, which was when she was in eighth grade, they had something called elocution at the school we went to, and Jane had to memorize the entire "Ride of Paul Revere." This became a major event at dinner, night after night, or after dinner, where Jane's going through the Paul Revere [poem]. I remember, as Jane does, clearly, one night, in utter disgust, standing up beside the table, reciting "The Ride of Paul Revere" and leaving the room. [Laughter.] If I never heard that frigging poem again in my life, it would have been too soon. But my family always had a very light touch in that sense. My father had a very good sense of humor, and there was nothing very heavy.
Ritchie: What types of things would have been discussed at the dinner table at your home?
Goodman: The usual range of things. My father came home on time at night. Family was very important to him. We ate virtually at six o'clock every night, which is interesting when you think about now. Can you imagine lawyers coming home at six o'clock every night? Look what's happened to the whole society. (We'll store that.) [Laughter.]
Ritchie: Yes, it's very different. And your mother was a traditional housewife?
Goodman: Yes. In our context, she was traditional, but, of course, in her context, she was not traditional, in that she did things quite differently than her mother. We have in our own minds assigned a certain period and called it traditional, but she thought of herself as very different from her mother and, I think to a certain degree, prided herself. Her home looked very different. She was very house-proud, and she was very proud of us, and very easygoing. She never came down on us like a ton of bricks at all. She was always very caring and attentive to us.
Ritchie: So would you say that the discipline in your house was flexible, rather than rigid?
Goodman: Oh, yes. And we were easy kids. Well, who knows? Chicken and egg, you know. But I think we weren't very hard kids.
Ritchie: So your father came home by six, and you would eat dinner together.
Goodman: We ate dinner together almost every night except the nights my father went to the army reserve. He was in the army in World War II.
Ritchie: Did he go away during the war?
Goodman: He did not go away. He worked at the Boston army base, in ordnance, and the only time he went away was for an entirely misguided attempt on the part of the army to think of him to do undercover work. What do you call it—security work or something. My father could not
find his way out of a paper bag. I mean, he had no sense of direction. They took him to Chicago and let him loose, to find his way back—two days, instead of two hours, later, I think. [Laughter.] Anyway, he spent World War II [in the Boston area]. The only reason I remember that event at all is, apparently he came home in that short amount of time, and I sort of freaked out and didn't know who he was. After World War II, he was recalled to Korea—not to Korea, but to the Korean Conflict—as a "specialist." He taught law for the army at that point, and he was livid. The entire army went to army green uniforms at that point, except for my father. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: So he would not give in, so to speak.
Goodman: Right. They could make him be part of the army, but he kept his—at dinner, we talked about all the things a family talks about. If there was an unusual aspect, I think it was that my father was very political, and we often had guests, certainly growing up, Sunday brunch, we often had people come in. The conversation was often about politics.
When my dad came out of the Korean Conflict—or was released—before he went back to full-time law (I'm a little fuzzy, but somewhere in there), Jack Kennedy asked him to work for him when he ran for the Senate. At the time, Kennedy had a terrible reputation with the Jews because of his father, and my father was more or less asked to be vice chairman of the campaign in charge of the Jewish vote. I don't mean to make it that ethnic, but there was an edge of that, Massachusetts politics were very ethnic at the time. My dad basically worked almost full time for him during that campaign.
Ritchie: So this would have been his 1952 campaign?
Goodman: It was his campaign for the Senate. It was '52, I guess. Then in '54, my father ran for Congress, unsuccessfully. He ran in this district, which was still largely a conservative Republican district, where Larry Curtis was the congressman from this district. My dad lost by about nine hundred votes out of 150,000 or whatever it was. Then he ran again in '56, but [Dwight D.] Eisenhower was running. But those campaigns, I think, were very pivotal to our childhood.
Ritchie: So you remember involvement in those?
Goodman: Oh, absolutely! Politics is a family activity.
Ritchie: What would you do for him?
Goodman: We did everything from licking stamps to working at the polls, to going with my dad sometimes. This is quite a diverse district. My father was a very good speaker. I was proud of him and liked going with him. It was also very sad when he lost; you never think your dad's going to lose. But this district ranges from West Roxbury, which was Irish Catholic, to Roxbury, which is, and was, black, to Brookline, which was in transition from being Yankee, to being Jewish with a lot of Irish, as well. So I think that we had a real sense of—we were not sheltered children. I think in the fifties you could easily have been a sheltered child.
Ritchie: Lived in suburbia and been in your own world.
Goodman: Right. This is an urban suburb, this is a city suburb. You don't know Boston, but Boston was built along the streetcar lines. They are city suburbs, really.
Ritchie: And this is one of those.
Goodman: This is one of those. Even the street that we are sitting on has apartments, has a large school, has private housing. I live in an attached house. So there's all kinds of—
Ritchie: I noticed some very large houses.
Goodman: And a big apartment building over there, a small church that actually was the private family chapel of the Sears family, which is now quite a remarkably—it's still the Sears family chapel, but it's a public and highly integrated small church.
Ritchie: So you were brought up in a family that was involved in politics.
Goodman: Very much.
Ritchie: And your childhood was open to many different things.
Goodman: In that sense, yes. It was very traditional in some ways, but had this edge of non-traditional.
Ritchie: How did your mother respond to your father's political role, or his political bids for office?
Goodman: My mother in some ways found it hard, because she was shy. She found that piece of it hard. On the other hand, I think it was probably the biggest expansion of her own horizons in life, certainly in retrospect. It's a period that looms very large in her own life, because it was the period when she was involved in more than homemaking, really.
Ritchie: So she would have participated in the political activities, too, the campaign, in addition to you and your sister.
Goodman: Yes. Oh, yes, much more than Jane and I.
Ritchie: Because she could do it on a full-time basis, whereas you had other things—school and friends.
Goodman: Right. Of course, it was an enormous financial investment, too, which had a real effect on the family, and which my mother totally went along with. It was my father's dream, not my mother's dream.
Ritchie: Would a campaign in those days have been financed primarily by the candidate?
Goodman: No, but at the end what happens, is when you're close and you think you're going to win, you spend money. [Tape interruption.]
Ritchie: So it was a drain on the family in many ways.
Goodman: It was more on my dad, because he was the single earner. He had to ante up.
Ritchie: Clearly you loved your life at that time, from the introduction in one of your books where you say at the age of ten, you knew that you loved it, and you wanted everything to stay the same. I'm paraphrasing your words. But you say that many years later, looking back on that life. Did you have any problems at that time?
Goodman: My mother says—and she's a better historian on my childhood in some ways, and I consider her a reasonably reliable source, somewhat rosy-colored glasses—that I had a kind of "life quality," and I could go for that. I think that's true, and people have told me things that I should have taken harder than I did about other times in my life. Knowing that I didn't, I think that I had positive attitude or some other horrible psycho-babble expression. I think a lot of things rolled off my back, which isn't a bad thing to have if you're going to be a journalist, by the way.
Ritchie: Did you ever think of what you might do when you grew up, when you were a little girl?
Goodman: No. My mother, again, says I wanted to have six children. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: You didn't remember that?
Goodman: I certainly didn't.
Ritchie: What high school did you attend?
Goodman: I went to Brookline High School for two years, and then I went to the Buckingham School, which was a small, small, small private school for girls, in Cambridge. Half of my class were children of Harvard professors.
Ritchie: Why did you switch from one to the other?
Goodman: I think I switched because my sister had switched, so it was, in my mind, "Yes, I'll go to Brookline High School for two years and then I'll go to Buckingham, like Jane did." Also I wasn't unhappy at Brookline High School any more than anybody else who's unhappy being a fourteen or fifteen-year-old. It shouldn't happen to a dog, right? But I wasn't unhappy in high school, but I did look forward to going to Buckingham, too. I had a class of fifteen girls.
Ritchie: So it was very different than a public high school.
Ritchie: Do you feel you got a better education there?
Goodman: It's all the classic stuff that I think is true. Buckingham School at that time was run by a remarkable woman called Miss Valliant, who my father used to call Miss Courageous. [Laughter.] Not to her face, though. She was part of that extraordinary group of women of the progressive suffragists' era who very much took women and took herself seriously, and she ran the school like that. We were taken quite seriously. In some ways it was very English in the sense that the chorus sang all the predictable songs. But it very much took this group of girls seriously. We may have gone to school like slobs, but we were expected to be sharp. You could not not have done your homework. When there are fifteen in the room and there's a demanding teacher, you did your work. I would have been happy staying at Brookline High School, too, but I think it was a very good place for me to have gone, because it was more demanding, simply. It was simply academically better.
Ritchie: What are some of the classes there that you remember, or some of the teachers, once again, that you might remember?
Goodman: I remember all of it. The only thing it was weak in was math. It was the typical girls' school prejudice of that period, but I didn't care; I was delighted to have avoided that. I particularly remember my English classes and my history classes. I had a terrific history professor, and history was what I majored in in college. I read history for pleasure. That's always been something that I have enjoyed, and I think might have pursued in a different way if I had come out of college—
Ritchie: And done something differently.
Goodman: Yes, not looking for a paycheck. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: Were they getting you ready to go to college at this school?
Goodman: Oh, yes! They weren't getting you ready to go to college; they were getting you ready to go to Radcliffe, Wellesley, Barnard, Smith, Mount Holyoke, or, if you were somewhat of a disappointment to them, maybe—you know what I mean. You get the picture. In my graduating class, three of us went to Radcliffe, maybe four, out of fifteen. That's 20 percent of the class. Did I do that right? [Laughter.]
Ritchie: Just about, yes. No, three out of fifteen would be—well, yes, 20 percent.
Goodman: I'm the one who had the bad math class! [Laughter.]
Ritchie: What were some of the extracurricular activities that you took part in, in high school?
Goodman: I can't say that I liked the extracurricular activities at Buckingham. Arriving at field hockey when you're sixteen is not my idea of—it was never a sport that I liked. I was a big tennis player at camp, and I was always very athletic and enjoyed it. I was always good. In fact, one of the people who I went to camp with for many years, who was in my bunk, was Lesley Stahl, and we always laugh about it, because Lesley's major athletic event is shopping, you know. [Laughter.] We always laugh about that.
Ritchie: So camp didn't help her a lot. [Laughter.]
Goodman: No, no. It was a girls' camp, where it doesn't matter as much, but we often laughed that there was a high emphasis on athletics at this camp, which did not rub off on Lesley at all. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: Did your family ever take vacations together in the summer, or was going to camp somewhat—
Goodman: Going to camp probably blew the bank, but we used to take a week after camp, where we went down to the Cape. Then one summer we went down to the Cape when I was a teenager and no longer camping. We went down for a month or more, maybe.
Ritchie: You mentioned the financial aspect of camp. Did you ever feel, or realize, that your parents might have had financial restraints?
Goodman: No, I didn't, and I think it's an interesting question, considering how, in that era, parents didn't really clue their kids in on very much. I think because my father grew up poor, he really didn't want us to feel constrained. My mother, I think, had a more easy attitude—not loose,
but she had a more comfortable attitude about money. She wrote the checks and she handled the family.
Ritchie: She did?
Goodman: Yes. But if we went shopping and brought two dresses home to decide, my father would say, "Keep both of them," and my mother would say, "Let's go in the other room and decide which one to keep." [Laughter.] We never bought into the "keep both of them," but I think he had a lot of trouble in that way because he had been so poor.
Ritchie: And he wanted to give his family what he didn't have?
Goodman: Yes, and I think also at that time, parents didn't tell their kids. I mean, things weren't told. If somebody had cancer, you whispered about it. If you didn't have money. I think at some point, I'm not sure when, I knew my father was supporting his mother, because she came to live with us for small periods, small unhappy periods. I knew that there wasn't money to burn, but I never felt worried.
Ritchie: And you went to a private girls' school.
Goodman: I went to a private girls' school.
Ritchie: With the cost of tuition.
Goodman: Yes. Two years, though. I went two years, and I pretty much knew I was going two years, because four years would have been a little—
Ritchie: It would have overlapped with your sister's time there.
Goodman: My time there overlapped with her in college, which was worse, but it would have been that much more tuition.
Ritchie: Did you have a large extended family in this area—cousins, aunts, uncles?
Goodman: It only seems that way. [Laughter.] It's not that large, but it's all here. My uncle, who lives next door, tells the story about when they had a babysitter who lived with them for a few years, and after some family event, she turned to him and said, "Mr. Alexander, do you have any family living in Boston?" [Laughter.]
Ritchie: It was all the aunts.
Ritchie: That's not the aunt that does the pie for Thanksgiving, is it?
Goodman: That's the same aunt, yes. So we all have lived within very close distance.
Ritchie: So you would have had somewhat of an extended family around for all of your growing-up years.
Goodman: Yes, my aunt and uncle and my grandparents, until they died when I was in college, and my other uncle, my mother's other brother. We were close to all of them.
Ritchie: In high school, did you think at that time what you might do in the future?
Goodman: I don't think I started thinking about it. All I thought about was going to college. In college, I don't think I thought about what I was going to do when I was through.
Ritchie: So you applied to Radcliffe. Did you apply anywhere else?
Goodman: I applied to Radcliffe, Wellesley, I think Barnard, and Pembroke, something like that. I know I applied to Radcliffe and Wellesley and Pembroke, and Barnard, too, I'm pretty sure.
Ritchie: Was there any consideration of going anywhere else, or was Radcliffe your first choice?
Goodman: Radcliffe was my first choice. I was already in school in Cambridge. My sister was already at Radcliffe. It had the reputation, compared to Wellesley, which would have been the other, you know—Wellesley had at that time the reputation of being a place where you went and rolled hoops. [Laughter.] Several of my closest friends went to Wellesley, including Lynn Sherr, and Lynn graduated from Wellesley exactly when I graduated from Radcliffe. She was up here for her twenty-fifth [reunion] when I was, and we've laughed about it subsequently, because in a sense, when we went to school, the girls at Wellesley thought the girls at Radcliffe were these pseudo-intellectuals in black turtleneck jerseys, all with greasy hair, sitting in coffee shops, and the girls at Radcliffe used to think if one of the Harvard men went up to Wellesley to date, it was because they couldn't stand the competition. [Laughter.] It was all silly sort of stuff.
Ritchie: Given the proximity, did you live at home and attend college or did you live in the dorms?
Goodman: No, I lived at college, which I really am glad. My sister spent one year at home, because there was a time when there was a housing shortage and the sophomores in the area were asked basically to live at home. But I lived at college.
Ritchie: Which you thought was a good experience?
Goodman: Oh, yeah.
Ritchie: And you decided to major in history. What were your reasons for that?
Goodman: Well, my sister had majored in history. [Laughter.] There's a pattern here. She had majored in American history, and I majored in European history. History was considered serious at Radcliffe.
[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]
Goodman: History was considered serious at Radcliffe. English was considered what a lot of the girls did who were not less serious, but somehow or other, history was—I don't know, now that you ask. I always liked it, too, and I had liked it in high school, but I think there was an aspect of it that that's where the competition was, maybe. And it was much more male, and it was hard. So it was a tough major.
Ritchie: That meant in your classes there were more males in it than, say, an English class would have been?
Goodman: There was one Radcliffe woman for every four Harvard men, so you were overwhelmed wherever you went, but some places like English, there were more women—English, modern language.
Ritchie: Had you been thinking ahead to your career in journalism, would you have chosen a different major?
Goodman: Nah. No. I still think it's a good background. I might have majored in American history, but at the time I think I thought I'd have been following my sister, and this was the big break. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: What extracurricular activities did you participate in, in college?
Goodman: Not too much. A lot of socializing. The major activity that I did outside was musical comedy, actually. I was in several musical comedies.
Ritchie: Had you done that before?
Goodman: I had done it summers. I had done it at camp, and then I had done it as a camp counselor. I always liked it. If I had worked very, very hard at it, I could have been a third-rate Ethel Merman. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: So you were doing this more for enjoyment, not for career or long term.
Goodman: No, no. No! You don't try to be a "hot box girl" in "Guys and Dolls" as a smart career move. [Laughter.] It doesn't work out that way.
Ritchie: So that was your primary outside activity?
Goodman: I think that was as much. I used to play tennis, too, not for college. It was kind of an odd time in Radcliffe's history, too, because it was in this transitional period from being a girls' college, with co-ed classes always, but a girls' college with its own set of things, its own newspaper, its own this, its own that, and being a part of Harvard, a very long transition. For example, during the period I was at Radcliffe, the Radcliffe News basically stopped, and women weren't allowed on the Crimson till a year or two [later], till I was maybe a junior or senior. So there was some pull.
Ritchie: So it was a time when they were changing, but slowly and slightly.
Goodman: That's right. And Mrs. Bunting was president of Radcliffe at the time. I think the ethic of Radcliffe, in terms of what its expectations were of its students, were kind of that you would leave college, work for a couple of years, get married, and then write the great American novel while your children were napping. It was a precursor to the superwoman era. There were high expectations, some of them snotty, you know, like "Radcliffe women could do it, even though other women couldn't." But there were also expectations of some intellectual stimulation.
Ritchie: Did you ever question those expectations?
Goodman: I wasn't uncomfortable at Radcliffe, but I wasn't altogether comfortable either. It's for, I think, a whole mix of reasons, but it was a very difficult time to be a Radcliffe student at Harvard. You were so lost in this large male institution, and I must say that I never had a woman teacher my four years of college—not one.
Ritchie: You never did?
Goodman: The egg. The bagel. No! No woman teacher in my entire college career. I had a series of what I recognize now, in a belated state of outrage that's now diminished, was that I had a series of very difficult experiences. I can just tell you briefly my tutors. One was, I recognize in retrospect, terrified of women, and every time I would come to his office, which was in a male house—I mean, it was all so set up that you had to leave your female living quarters and go to your male intellectual quarters—he was terrified of women. My tutor the next year just put his pipe in his mouth the minute I walked in till the minute I walked out, you know. And I realize now that from their perspective, here was this nubile young woman, and they were probably scared shitless of me. [Laughter.] They didn't know what to do with us. At that time, in a classroom there was invariably some woman knitting.
Ritchie: So they really didn't know what you women were about.
Goodman: No. They knew we were smart, but they didn't know what any of it meant or what we would do with it. It was a very odd period.
Ritchie: Had classes always been mixed there?
Goodman: Classes have been co-ed since World War II. Just two days ago, I ran into somebody who had been in my Crane Brinton seminar, a guy. I was the only woman in the seminar. He remembered much more vividly—I had totally forgotten this, and I think it's indicative of how so many of these things happen that you forgot about them or you let them all go—but he remembers now (I don't know what he thought then) being astonished at how Brinton treated me. Now, I, in retrospect, have always thought of that as a very interesting class, a class on revolutions, and Crane Brinton was an interesting thinker. But it was not to me—unusual—I wasn't treated unusually different in that class, but to this classmate of mine, looking at the only woman in the class being treated—
Ritchie: How did he think you were treated?
Goodman: He thought that an extraordinary number of caustic remarks were directed at me. He told me this story, which I have no memory of, that Brinton had been out sick, and when he came in, he said I was the only one in the class, probably in a female-inspired way, to ask him how he had been, and that he started describing in some detail how he had been in all kinds of semi-scatological ways. [Laughter.] I had no memory. Maybe amnesia of that sort of thing served me well, or maybe I just have a poor memory, or maybe that sort of thing just happened so routinely that a whole generation of us learned to deal with it.
Ritchie: It amazes me, though, that you never had a woman professor.
Goodman: Zip. It's not that unusual. I would be interested to take a survey of my classmates from the class of '63 and see how many had, or how many had more than one.
Ritchie: So Radcliffe did not have its own faculty.
Goodman: No. Barnard did; Radcliffe did not.
Ritchie: What were some of your thoughts about what you might do after college? When did you start to formulate a plan?
Goodman: I started to formulate a plan because I had met the young man [Anthony Goodman] I was going to marry, and the plan consisted of—
Ritchie: How did you meet him?
Goodman: Actually, through a distant cousin of mine. He was my very distant cousin's roommate, and when I met this cousin who had been from Colorado, he said, "You have to meet my roommate."
Ritchie: At Harvard?
Goodman: Yes. He was two classes ahead of me. So I had devised this plan that we were going to get married in June.
Ritchie: Right after graduation?
Goodman: No, no. Three weeks! Please! I wanted to mature a little. [Laughter.] Then he was in medical school and I was going to go to New York—that's where he was—and look for a job.
Ritchie: So actually you had met him maybe your sophomore year?
Goodman: Yes, end of my sophomore year.
Ritchie: And he was a senior at that time.
Goodman: That's right.
Ritchie: Then you dated him for the next two years?
Ritchie: Then planned to get married and go to New York.
Ritchie: What was your wedding like?
Goodman: Whoever remembers their first wedding? [Laughter.] I don't mean to say that—
Ritchie: It's one of the questions I have to ask. [Laughter.] No, I don't have to ask that.
Goodman: I think it was lovely. I have some pictures. It was very nice. It was in my parents' yard. As often happens with weddings when you're young, there were lots of family and lots of parents' friends. My sister was my bridesmaid; she was married by then. It was a very warm June day. I assume the food was good; I don't know. [Laughter.] I can't dredge anything more out of the memory.
Ritchie: So then you moved to New York?
Ritchie: During college, had you had any summer jobs or internships?
Goodman: I had had summer jobs at camp. I'd been a camp counselor. Nothing's coming up on the screen. Nothing you would call work-related.
Ritchie: So you wouldn't have had any jobs that might have given you a direction of what you wanted to do when you graduated?
Goodman: No, not really. My sister was working for Quincy (Mass.) Patriot-Ledger at that point. Jane was a senior when I was a freshman, and then she went to work for the Patriot-Ledger, which was sort of the only reason I knew—no, that's not true. But it was one of the things that made it seem attractive, again.
Ritchie: What was she doing for them?
Goodman: City desk and arts page.
Ritchie: Had that been something that she had thought about?
Goodman: She actually had thought about it much more than I, as I think in some ways she had thought about a lot of these things much more than I. She had worked in college for the Cambridge newspaper as a stringer. I can't think of the name of it.
Ritchie: So she had a career established when you began to work.
Goodman: She had a job, yes.
Ritchie: How did you get your first job?
Goodman: I went to New York, and I was interviewing in a variety of places. Among the places I interviewed at was Newsweek, which at that time hired kind of overeducated young women for truly cruddy jobs. I got one of those jobs, as a research trainee, for $58.50 a week, but who remembers? What they did at that time, it wasn't a training job; it was basically a copy job at which you waited for an opening in the research department. At Newsweek, each writer was assigned a researcher, and then there were a variety of other researchers who were unassigned. The turnover was expected to be great, because women didn't stay in these jobs, either because they got married or because they left, but never because they were promoted. [Laughter.] We're talking 1963, which was before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so sex discrimination was legal, which I find—a lot of young people know that it happened, but they forget that it was legal. The time that I was at Newsweek, there was one woman who became a reporter, but all the men were reporters and all the women were researchers. In fact, I worked as this "trainee," waiting for an opening for about a year.
Then I got an opening and worked in the television department of Newsweek for Peter Benchley, whom I had known at college. The only difference between Peter and me was gender.
Ritchie: He was a male and he got the job.
Goodman: He got the job. I mean, there were other differences. His grandfather was Robert Benchley. [Laughter.] But, you know, it wouldn't have mattered if my grandfather had been Robert Benchley.
Ritchie: So you were a trainee, waiting for a position to open. What did you do as a trainee?
Goodman: People who hear me now will not know that such jobs exist, but we ripped copy off of wires, passed them around, brought the mail around, got the coffee. It was all awful. The only thing that saved it from being truly awful was that there were other young women who had the same jobs, who you did it with. In fact, months after I was there, I was working in the wire room when Jack Kennedy was shot, and I remember reading, upside down on the wire, dateline, UPI, "Kennedy was shot in the hand, shot in the head, shot in the hand, shot in the head," this sort of staccato. Of course, I had known him. He had been in our house. It was quite—I remember that very vividly, like everybody else remembers.
Ritchie: Then you became a researcher for Peter Benchley. What did you do in that position?
Goodman: It was an awful job. Being a researcher is the kind of a job where you're only noticed if you make a mistake, and your whole job is to redline and make sure other things are accurate, or at least that there's a source. People don't actually care if they're accurate, as long as there's a source. I also did a little reporting, and I started to freelance. I enjoyed Peter and I enjoyed Newsweek, and it was a very comfortable environment, but I don't have a research personality, even. I mean, I have to be very careful to check, myself, and certainly to have me in the position of being a checker, nobody ever took my Minnesota personality test. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: What kind of things did Peter write about?
Ritchie: So he was covering television programs?
Goodman: Television programs, television news. It was just at the beginning. It's probably very early in the television criticism/television coverage period.
Ritchie: So how would you check facts on that? You would go to a resource library and look up things?
Goodman: I don't remember vividly, but there would be files coming in from other people. If somebody said something happened in 1957, you had to have a source for that. Then you redlined it.
Ritchie: Was working a financial consideration for you and your husband? Did you have to work?
Goodman: Oh, yeah.
Ritchie: Did you enjoy it, though?
Goodman: Oh, I did. I liked being in New York. I liked being in that atmosphere. I enjoyed everything about it. I recognized that it was not a job that a human being wanted to do for life,
although people stayed there forever. There were lots of women who were still there and still in those jobs when the sex discrimination suit hit.
Ritchie: But did you recognize at the time that women were being discriminated against?
Goodman: In the way that you said, "That's the way it is." I certainly saw what was going on, but that's what was going on. I don't think I was angry about it for years. I have subsequently met, and know, people who—and I've had this conversation with Oz Elliot, who was the editor of Newsweek at the time. He's a very nice man, and he said to me, one day in particular, how awful the system was and how horrible that was and how differently he feels now. I totally accept that. At the same time when he said that to me, there was a little piece of me that thought back on all those lives that he participated in ruining. I don't hold him any more culpable than anybody else, but there was that little piece of me that sat there saying, "Remember." And he's one of the "good guys" now.
Ritchie: You mentioned that you started to freelance. How did you do that? What did you do for that?
Goodman: I did some New York freelancing for the Patriot-Ledger, where Jane was, and she helped me out on that. I did some freelancing for the Manhattan weeklies, the names of which I can no longer remember. Then a little beginning of doing some magazine work.
Ritchie: How would you do that? Would you pick a topic and go to them and try to sell it to them?
Ritchie: What were some of these early pieces on?
Goodman: A lot of stuff in the arts.
Ritchie: On covering the New York arts?
Ritchie: Ballet, opera?
Goodman: No, more art.
Ritchie: Art gallery-type things?
Goodman: Yes. I can't really remember all that.
Ritchie: Did you have a background in art, in college?
Goodman: No. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: Just an interest?
Ritchie: How would these pieces have paid?
Goodman: I think about twenty-five bucks a shot. But that wasn't to sneeze at when you were making at that point probably seventy, having had a promotion, or seventy-five, whatever.
Ritchie: How would you have gotten raises at Newsweek?
Goodman: By living long enough.
Ritchie: Just being there?
Ritchie: Nothing on merit?
Ritchie: So your New York career then came to an end at what point? Or you and your husband moved?
Goodman: When he was through medical school, he got an internship in Ann Arbor [Michigan], and I went out to Ann Arbor to look around. I went to Detroit, which is about forty miles from Ann Arbor, and I realized right away that I didn't want to work for the Ann Arbor News.
Goodman: It's a small-town newspaper, and if I had a choice, I wanted to work for a better paper.
Ritchie: So at this point you realized you did want—
Goodman: Yes. At this point I realized I liked journalism and wanted to stay in it, very much so. I had an interview with the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, and I really liked the Free Press. It was a very hustling, good, small newspaper in change at the time. They offered me a job, and I took it, happily, delightedly.
Ritchie: Do you remember what your starting salary was?
Goodman: Probably $135, something like that. [Laughter.] That was pretty good money.
Ritchie: So you commuted each day from Ann Arbor?
Goodman: Yes. It was an hour each day—-rain, snow, sleet on the God-forsaken I-94. I really didn't know what I was doing, because I really hadn't done any kind of general assignment reporting.
Ritchie: And that's what you were hired as?
Goodman: I was hired to do general assignment reporting and feature. I remember being sent out the first day, and coming back and writing it up, with some trepidation about whether I knew what on earth I was doing. You remember I had never taken a journalism course, and I had never
done "who, what, when, where, why." It got in the paper the next day, and I thought, "Oh, I guess I can do this." [Laughter.] Or nobody seems to know if I can't.
Ritchie: Did anyone tell you what to do or how to do it?
Ritchie: You got an assignment and then you went, you covered whatever?
Ritchie: What types of things were you assigned to?
Goodman: I can't remember exactly what my early assignments were, but I did a lot of page-three features.
Ritchie: Like what would that have been?
Goodman: Opening day at the zoo. Somebody comes to town.
Ritchie: So you weren't on the women's page.
Goodman: No. I was working out of the city desk. It must be said that at the time, the old editor of the page, who had not allowed women in the city room, had just been replaced by a new editor. Otherwise, I would not have gotten this job.
Ritchie: Were you the first women in the city room?
Goodman: I was one of. Jean Taylor, a superb feature writer, had worked for many years with her copy going into the newsroom and her body being kept in virtually a plywood box outside of the newsroom. There was a very much older woman who had been hired during World War II. Jean was about ten years older than I, I think, maybe a little bit more, and Jean was just a superb, superb writer, great feature writer. She then went on to become associate editor of the L.A. Times. But at that time, that was about it. It was just on the cusp of change.
Ritchie: Were there things that you were not assigned to because you were a woman, or were there certain things that were always given to you because you were a woman?
Goodman: I don't know the answer to that, really.
Ritchie: It's not something that was clear-cut or that you were aware of?
Goodman: There were a group of us, male and female, who were sort of the feature writers, and I was one of that group.
Ritchie: Were there other women at the paper in other departments?
Goodman: Oh, yes. Dorothy Jurney was there.
Ritchie: She's been interviewed for this project.
Goodman: Dorothy was the head of the women's pages, and she's a terrific lady. I admire Dorothy a lot. There were women mostly in the women's pages and in the arts.
Ritchie: What did you like best about working there?
Goodman: It was a real hustling paper. What I liked least was there was no air-conditioning. [Laughter.] On those long, hot Midwestern summers, I remember suffering from hay fever out there like I've never had before or since. I liked the people a lot. It was a really great group of people to work with. Neil Shine, who is still out there, a terrific guy, he was my city editor. Now he's a big editor, the big grown-up editor. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: When you wrote something, then you'd hand it in to him?
Goodman: Assistant city editor. You gave it to the ACE.
Ritchie: Would it come back to you?
Goodman: It would come back if it needed something.
Ritchie: Did you get many back?
Goodman: Not that I recall. I don't recall it in a bad way. Neil Shine has told me about the day that—I did an obit one day, which was not something I did a lot of. He wrote me this fairly recently, he said I had down the wrong day for the funeral, which is really, you know, aacchhtt! He called me into his office, after he'd gotten five million telephone calls, and said something about how I'd had the wrong day. He said that I was very casual. He said the guy's friends had all called up and said that they had the wrong day, and I said, "Well, if they were really friends, they would have known what day the funeral was." [Laughter.] And he said he was so impressed by my blitheness, that he let me go and said, "She'll do fine."
Ritchie: That's a good point.
Goodman: He's a sweetheart. That was so funny.
Ritchie: Aside from the air-conditioning, was there anything else that you didn't like about working there, or any way that it didn't contribute to your—
Goodman: No, I think I was in a stage where I was still so busy learning and interested in doing anything, figuring out my own skills, I don't recall, except for the terrible drive. It was quite grueling after a while. My father died in the midst of all of this, during this period, too, and that was very, very difficult. But I really liked working there.
Ritchie: Had you and your husband given consideration to both of your futures, in terms of career and family?
Goodman: Not really. I think it was more of the "I had a career until—" and, "I followed him until—" I was gradually being aware that I wasn't doing this "until" anything, I think probably right in this period. I realized that even after I had children, I wanted to keep doing this.
Ritchie: That you enjoyed it and felt it was worthwhile.
Goodman: Yes. It's a little hard to get back into your consciousness.
Ritchie: Years ago. Yes. So you were at the Free Press for about two years?
Ritchie: Once again, it was your husband's—
Goodman: Yes, but it was very much my desire to come back to Boston, too. He applied to residencies here.
Ritchie: Was that to be near your family?
Goodman: To be in Boston, which I always liked; to be out of Michigan; and to be near my family, the whole package.
Ritchie: So you moved back here in 1967?
Ritchie: And what did you do in terms of your career then?
Goodman: I came to work at the [Boston] Globe.
Ritchie: Started a long career there.
Ritchie: What was your first job there?
Goodman: My first job there was in the women's pages.
Ritchie: How did you get the job there?
Goodman: I had an interview with Tom Winship, a guy who knew—well, I had an interview with several of the papers in Boston, and a couple of them offered me a job, but it was clear that the Globe was the coming paper. I had an interview at the Globe. A guy who I knew at the Free Press helped me get the interview there. I hit it off with Tom Winship, and he wanted me to go to work for the women's pages, which was definitely a kind of "back there" step-down kind of feeling at the time. During this period I also got pregnant, and I figured I'd better take whatever job was being offered to me. [Laughter.] I took that job. Winship could always sort of talk you into whatever he wanted you to do, and his feeling was that he really wanted to beef-up those pages. This is during the period when women's pages, in general, were moving from being food and furnishings, to more interesting.
Ritchie: Going back to Detroit just for a minute, did you stay on assignment-writing the whole two years you were there, or did you go to feature? You said you were both feature—
Goodman: I wrote news features.
Ritchie: So you were assigned to write a news feature. You didn't think up what you wanted to write.
Goodman: Yes, I wrote some magazine pieces, too, though, which I did think up. People are always happy when you think of your own ideas, too, but I don't remember either way on that.
Ritchie: But you didn't cover hard news, so to speak?
Goodman: A little, but not too much. There were times. I would do the horrible pro forma story on a kid who had just been killed in Vietnam. But not too much, "The state legislature said today—" kind of pieces.
Ritchie: So you began at the Globe doing the same type of thing, only on the women's pages?
Goodman: Some. More women's oriented than features in general.
Ritchie: Had you covered women's issues in Detroit, or written about them?
Goodman: There weren't any. [Laughter.] I'm sure there were, but not—
Ritchie: Not as we know them today, or as we see them in retrospect.
Goodman: No. Not at all.
Ritchie: When did you first consciously think of covering women's issues?
Goodman: I know quite well, because in about 1969—I actually have this piece; I have this front page. I think it was '69, but I could check. I was literally sent out to cover the fledgling women's movement in Boston, and most of the women's movement, although I think there was already a NOW [National Organization for Women] chapter, the sexy story, so to speak, was Cell 16, which was part of the radical feminist movement. They had a meeting down on Charles Street, and I was sent down to cover it. In fact, I was sent down to sneak in, since they weren't allowing any press.
Ritchie: Did you do that successfully?
Goodman: I did. I wrote a story, the first story in the newspaper, I'm sure, on the women's movement in Boston. To my shock, the Sunday paper—this is not something that's happened before or since—led with a single headline: "Women."
Ritchie: From that meeting?
Goodman: I had a lead story, but there were others. It was quite dramatic that the managing editor, in 1969, Ian Menzies, turned the Sunday front into what was happening about women, and it was extremely controversial, ahead of its time, to put it mildly, and yet at the same time, pieces of it, you'd vomit if you saw it. [Laughter.] I have that page somewhere.
Ritchie: That might be nice to include with this.
Goodman: It was a very dramatic event, and people at the paper were somewhat aghast, and I sort of went, "Oh, my God! They put this piece on page one?" which I had written as a feature.
Ritchie: How did you feel coming away from that meeting? What happened at that meeting that you covered?
Goodman: I don't remember really how I felt. I remember being conscious of being there as a journalist and an interloper, and I remember covering it as a scene story, because it was. There was a lot of karate and a lot of "up against the wall." And yet there was a kernel of having been introduced to some of the ideas previously more civil-rights concept that was already very appealing to me.
Ritchie: Going undercover to the meeting, or going incognito, maybe, to a meeting, is interesting. Did you feel awkward about doing that?
Ritchie: Did you feel you were stretching the ethics a bit to do that?
Goodman: No. I might have at some other point, but I didn't in 1969. I didn't. But I did feel uncomfortable.
Ritchie: Were you ever asked to do other things that made you feel uncomfortable in terms of covering a story or getting information?
Goodman: Offhand, I can't at the moment think of something I did.
Ritchie: You mentioned that when you got the job, you were pregnant. You had your daughter in 1968. What was the attitude at the paper toward a pregnant woman working?
Goodman: The attitude, in general, was that you were supposed to leave when you "showed," and, needless to say, I didn't tell anybody that I was pregnant until I absolutely had to. This was all very, very typical of the time. The attitude was not very friendly. I'm not even sure if there was another woman at the paper who had a—there might have been one other woman or no other women at the paper who had a preschool child.
Ritchie: Who was working and had a child.
Goodman: Right. I don't think there was, although some of the older women at the paper had done it. The society writer and another woman, Phyllis Coons, who was at the paper for about fifty years, had worked straight through, having had five children or something. But at the moment there was not, to my knowledge, another woman in my generation who was working, with a preschool child. Maybe one—Carol Liston. I can't remember. I think she was there then, but I'm not sure. She might have been at the other paper then.
At the time, too, some of the photographers were hostile. Towards the end of my pregnancy, they didn't want me to be in the car with them.
Ritchie: When you went out to cover stories?
Goodman: When we went out on assignment. I would go out by myself.
Ritchie: They wouldn't want—
Goodman: On the supposed theory that I'd deliver in the front seat of the car. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: But you were allowed to work until—
Goodman: I was allowed to, but it was never secure and it was never stated up front; I just sort of kept doing it. The woman who was the editor of the women's department kept letting me—Gail Perrin.
[End Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]
Ritchie: So it was more or less an informal arrangement.
Goodman: It was informal, unstated. "We'll deal with it by not talking about it."
Ritchie: What about paid maternity leave?
Ritchie: No such thing?
Goodman: There was no maternity leave. It was not at all. I had no assurance that I still had a job. I left really literally a day before Katie was born and never felt quite secure until six weeks later when, in fact, I did go back. I told them I was going to come back. They didn't actually put me on the payroll, which was against union rules, until I came back from maternity leave. In other words, you have a three-month trial period or something like that before they put you on payroll, but because by then I was pregnant, I never actually got put on the permanent payroll—i.e., you're a member of the union and they can't fire you—until I came back.
Ritchie: Because they didn't expect you to come back?
Goodman: I don't know. It just was all of this unspoken, under-the-table, not quite illicit behavior to get pregnant.
Ritchie: So you were quite fortunate to be healthy during the pregnancy, so you could keep working and then come back six weeks after.
Ritchie: What type of child-care arrangements did you make?
Goodman: I had a woman who came in, and I was lucky to find somebody who was very good.
Ritchie: At that point, did you ever think about not going back to work?
Goodman: No. I mean, I thought about it in a panicky way. "Oh, my God, what if I couldn't?" I think now young mothers who know they're going to have a job, probably have a more leisurely maternity leave. They probably feel more comfortable about it. I think I didn't really feel comfortable in motherhood until I went back to work, because the first six weeks, there was always this edge of whether it was going to transform my life in ways I didn't want, whether I had just run out of options. It was a real concern.
Ritchie: Did you have other friends outside of the newspaper, social friends, who were doing the same thing at this time?
Goodman: I had my sister, again, fortunately. Of all the young residents, there was one other wife who was working.
Ritchie: And who had a child?
Goodman: Actually, there was one other wife who was working. She hadn't had any children.
Ritchie: In other words, most of the people that you knew weren't doing this.
Goodman: Right. And weren't approving. My mother was very approving, I would say. I think it must be hard if you have a disapproving parent looking over your shoulder.
Ritchie: Especially in the same town.
Goodman: Right. My mother's just not a disapproving person. But it was very unusual and a lot of comment.
Ritchie: How was it, balancing that at first, the wife, mother, and worker?
Goodman: My then-husband was, like all young residents, gone a lot, every other night and every other weekend, working. It was a lot of stress. In some ways, you know, it was easier to go to work. At work they let you read the newspaper, they'll let you go to the bathroom, all the things you can't do with a small child. [Laughter.] At the same time, I came home early enough to feel that I was spending—I enjoyed my time with my daughter. I enjoyed her. Obviously, the first six weeks you're just kind of in this haze of sleepless horror show. But I enjoyed my time with her much more after I started back to work.
Ritchie: Did you find it hard to get back into the swing of work when you went back?
Goodman: Not at all. I was so relieved! I think it's very, very, very different now, because I think a lot of the young mothers at the office do have trouble coming back, who have been away. It's just sort of a psychological break. They almost have the luxury of ambivalence, which I experienced but didn't allow myself to feel, at least for a while, until things settled down.
Ritchie: What types of features were you writing for the Globe in those early years?
Goodman: Actually, I was writing fairly lengthy features often, writing about women's—we didn't call them women's issues, but women's lives, both some of the light stuff and some of the more serious stuff. I had a very early piece—I can't remember when these things were—a very early profile on a woman, a young college student, who had an abortion. That was probably early in the abortion issue, very early.
Ritchie: How would you have found someone like that? How did you find people to write about, or sources?
Goodman: It's what you do if you're a reporter. [Laughter.] You find somebody who finds somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody who will talk to you.
Ritchie: You have the network.
Goodman: You find three people who won't talk to you, two who think they will, one who finally will. Normal reporting.
Ritchie: Did you like being back here in Boston?
Goodman: Oh, very much. Very much. Of course, it makes a big difference if you're trying to balance work and motherhood, if you have family around. I had backup on the day when the whole world fell apart.
Ritchie: You could turn to your mother or a relative to help you out. What were your hours at the paper?
Goodman: I think probably basically eight to fourish, nine to fourish, nine to fivish. Newspapers aren't quite that, but features, you have somewhat more regular hours. Then if I took a powder early, I'd finish something at home. I was allowed a little bit of flexibility. But again, it was on this very individual basis—I got the work done, I got the stuff in, and it was fine with my editor. Had I had another editor, I might have been unemployed.
Ritchie: Who was your editor?
Goodman: Gail Perrin.
Ritchie: She was in charge of the women's page?
Goodman: That's right.
Ritchie: Had she been there some time?
Goodman: Not that long. She'd been in Washington previously. But she made a big difference in my life.
Ritchie: In what way?
Goodman: She let me do it my way.
Ritchie: So you would say she was a good person to work for?
Goodman: She sure was for me, absolutely.
Ritchie: You mentioned that the paper was changing. Was she one of those people who helped change the paper?
Ritchie: More or less? As much as she could?
Goodman: Yes. [Tape interruption.]
Ritchie: Were there any things that you didn't enjoy writing about?
Goodman: Yes. I had a fairly strong line between what I considered to be acceptable and unacceptable fluff. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: What would fall into those two categories?
Goodman: At the time in journalism, we were just getting out of what were called JFR musts.* We were just getting out of stories that came from the advertising department. I really felt strongly about not doing those.
Ritchie: What were those like?
Goodman: The advertising department would want you to do something, that a big advertiser was having such and such a day, and they'd want you to do that. I thought it was journalistic whoredom. I guess I was pretty vocal about it, so I didn't have to do them. Then that disappeared quite quickly, because the ethics at the time took care of that pretty quickly.
I liked to do long features.
Ritchie: Long, as in how many words is that? As a journalist, do you count words?
Goodman: I had another editor by this time, who used to say that he was going to start weighing my copy instead of reading it. [Laughter.] More of the take-out length. What would it be now? We count things differently in the computer world; we count them by TWLS, type written lines, at the Globe, rather than by inches or whatever.
Ritchie: Before, it was inches?
Goodman: Or something. Or words. But sometimes I would write a whole page for a Sunday piece, which is funny, considering now I write seventy-five lines. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: So you've tightened and shortened quite a bit.
Goodman: Oh, yeah. Well, it's entirely different writing.
Ritchie: Can you think of other categories of stories that were unacceptable to you personally, that you did not like to do?
Goodman: I didn't especially like to do news. I mean, "You've covered one fire, you've covered them all" kind of thing—excuse me, with apologies to Agnew or whoever it was that said that. I wasn't interested anymore in hard news.
Ritchie: So you were looking at different issues, different things.
Goodman: I was interested in covering what was going on in society, and this was a very interesting and turbulent time. I was very interested in covering what was going on on campuses and what was going in social change, really.
* JFR was head of the Globe advertising department.
Ritchie: What about the civil rights movement? How did you cover that, or how did you incorporate that into your own?
Goodman: If by "civil rights" you mean literally the integration, black/white issues, I don't think I spent a great deal of time. That was usually allotted to the news desk. The education reporters at the Globe, including my husband [Bob Levey], covered—
Ritchie: Your current husband.
Goodman: My current husband. Sounds like Elizabeth Taylor. [Laughter.] "My seventeenth husband—" Covered what was going on in Boston city schools, which led up to busing. But those stories were mostly assigned to the news desk, whereas other issues of social change, what was going on with families, children, women, were more assigned to the women's department.
Ritchie: But you could take different angles on those stories—say, a family, whether it was education or health care, could you do that kind of thing?
Goodman: I think you're thinking of a slightly later period when women's pages would have been more likely to do that than they were in the late sixties. Are we still in the late sixties? Can we move on? [Laughter.]
Ritchie: You've had your daughter. You're still married to your first husband. We're thinking of the late sixties, yes. What about weddings and social events?
Goodman: No, I didn't, though Otile [McManus]. She did "wedding of the week." She will tell you about that. [Laughter.] She had come to the paper about a year after I. When did you graduate from college?
Goodman: So she had come just about a year. I did a lot of profiles of people.
Ritchie: Interviews with people?
Goodman: A lot of that.
Ritchie: Would those be women and men?
Goodman: Mostly women, but both. I also did some home furnishings, go to somebody's house, interview them, look at the house. That was at the very beginning. I always liked that; that was fun.
Ritchie: And these would be ideas that you would come up with and/or would be assigned to you?
Goodman: All of the above.
Ritchie: Can you think of one of your favorite stories from that time, or someone who you interviewed, who you especially liked talking to and learned from?
Goodman: I can hardly remember from last week. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: In 1971, you divorced and became a single parent. How did that change your life in terms of work and balancing career and motherhood, parenthood?
Goodman: Of course, needless to say, divorce is very stressful. I did keep my same babysitter. I moved to a new place. In some ways the residue of guilt about working dropped off, because now I really had to. I was also very conscious of wanting to spend a great deal of time with Katie, the normal mix of stuff.
Ritchie: When you say "residue of guilt," was that from thinking that you might not have had to work once your husband was established in a medical practice?
Goodman: You didn't even need that specific a hook for guilt in that era. It was so around. I mean, it was still so unusual for mothers of very small children to be working, that when you were the only mother at the playground, who only got to the playground late in the afternoon when the other mothers were picking up and leaving, you didn't need anything that specific. If anything, you needed all the support not to feel guilt was the normal state. [Laughter.] People now talk about the mommy wars as being a current thing between women who work and women who don't work, and as being something somehow mutual, with each feeling some accusation from the other. But when I was first a working mother, it was every bit as operative. I don't mean that just between women; it was all over.
Ritchie: Society in general.
Goodman: Yes. It was just the cusp of anybody starting to accept it at all.
Ritchie: During this time in the early seventies, was your coverage of things changing at all? Were you looking at new things?
Goodman: Oh, sure. I started writing about women's issues and the way we think about them, about women's rights, equality, all the issues that were in the air.
Ritchie: Were other people at the paper aware of this, of the changes taking place and what you were writing about?
Goodman: Oh, yes.
Ritchie: Was the paper a good employer?
Goodman: Oh, very. The Globe wanted to cover change. Winship loved it. This was a period that he just loved everything that was going on, and really wanted to be on top of it. He felt that it was our story. And I was one of his chosen in lots of ways. I started having a column once a week in about '71, and started talking about some of those issues in the column. My first six columns, which were just sort of random in the course of a year, that ran on the Op Ed page, I think they were mostly about women's issues.
Ritchie: Would those have been incorporated into your books?
Goodman: Oh, no. No, no, no. This is prior. This is early. I'd hate, probably, to read them. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: How did writing a column differ from doing a feature story?
Goodman: You could say what you thought in an overt way. The big difference between being a feature or a writer or any kind of a reporter, and being a columnist, is being a columnist, you say what you think. You're paid to say what you think. You have to say what you think.
Ritchie: And you liked that?
Goodman: Very much so.
Ritchie: Were there many other women columnists at this time?
Goodman: Diane White was also writing a column, and she is still. She's a good columnist at the paper. Diane was much more writing about hip, but more humorous kinds of things. At some point Carol Foley [Liston] was writing about politics from the State House, but I can't remember exactly what the sequence was.
Ritchie: Did you ever have a desire to cover politics?
Goodman: Not too much. I went to the Democratic National Convention in 1972, and that was the year in which women were a story almost for the first time, and I was sent because they recognized that women had become a story and some of the other things. This is the flip side of having snuck into something in '69. By '72, women journalists were wanted. Male journalists might not have always been wanted at some of these things, but women journalists were wanted at some of these things. I went to the convention in 1972, as did a number of other women journalists, because it was a real women's story to cover. That was my first piece of political reporting.
Ritchie: A story in terms of the political platform?
Goodman: That's right.
Ritchie: People who were there?
Goodman: All of the above. Abortion was a big issue on the Democratic platform. Sissy Farenthal's name was put in to be vice president. Shirley Chisholm was running for president.
Ritchie: Would you have gotten interviews with these people?
Goodman: Oh, sure. Oh, sure. That stuff is somewhere or other in the clips. I covered all of that. I have a picture from that convention, of a row of us women who were covering it, because several of them were close personal friends, but in that row were Jane O'Reilly and Ann Blackman, who was then at the AP [Associated Press], and my friend Lynn Sherr. I think she was freelancing then; she's now at ABC. Who else? I can't think. But somewhere I have a photo of all of us.
Ritchie: So it was a time that women journalists came as a group to participate.
Goodman: Absolutely. First time. Not a time; it was the first time. Germaine Greer was there.
Ritchie: How did you feel coming away from that? Do you think that changed anything that you covered or wrote?
Goodman: It was kind of interesting, because there were pieces of it that I really enjoyed. I enjoyed covering it, and I enjoyed being there. We also were very conscious of some of our male political colleagues. We'd all go out to dinner together, and they would talk to each other. I remember one night Myra McPherson was there from the Washington Post, and we were all out to dinner together. She's a very savvy reporter. People were just talking around her as if she weren't even there. When she said something, the guys would just talk right over her. My friend Ann Blackman and I were at the same table, and we were rolling our eyes at each other, and we finally just couldn't believe it, and Myra, fortunately—I've told her this—was a little tipsy, so I don't think she noticed it. We were very conscious of their either awkwardness or preening, not quite knowing what to do with this group of women who were there for the first time, in part. Some of them were also good to us, but definitely those of us who were there had that sense of it being a first.
Ritchie: You came from a paper that had a good environment for women, though, whereas some of the others may not have.
Goodman: It had a good environment for women covering issues.
Ritchie: What about the Vietnam War? How did you incorporate that into your writing?
Goodman: I remember writing about protest movements and about people in protest, but I didn't cover the war. I had friends who did, who went. By that time my daughter was small, and I wasn't involved to that extent, although I was very much opposed to the war.
Ritchie: Could you voice that opposition in your columns?
Goodman: I'm sure I did, but my newspaper had taken an early stand, too, against the war. We'd published the Pentagon Papers* when the Washington Post did. We went out on a limb quite early—not a limb, wasn't that much of a limb.
Ritchie: You took a stand.
Ritchie: Did you see anything about your coverage of Vietnam that changed the way you wrote, or covering protests?
Goodman: It changed the way I thought more than the way I wrote.
Ritchie: Thoughts about social issues, in general?
Goodman: I think, like a lot of other people, it reinforced the bumper sticker of the period: Question Authority. You don't have to go very far to reinforce that for a journalist. It was pretty clear that we were being lied to, and it was pretty clear that one of the jobs of journalists is not to let the lies through.
* The "Pentagon Papers." A highly classified Defense Department document leaked to the press in 1971 which gave details of U.S. involvement in Vietnam from World War II to 1968 and revealed that federal officials had consistently lied to the American people about Vietnam.
Ritchie: To get to the truth, no matter what?
Goodman: Not to let the lies through. Getting to the truth is a tougher philosophical question.
Ritchie: What made you decide to apply for a Niemann Fellowship?
Goodman: Other people at the paper had had them. In fact, for many years there had been a streak of Globe people who had had them. I don't think anybody had come from a women's page to a Niemann Fellowship, and I thought it was a great thing to do, to have a Niemann Fellowship. I mean, it's a no-brainer if you can get it. It's a wonderful thing to have. So I asked Winship, because you had to get the approval of the editor of the paper, and he went for it, and they put me up. I had an interview.
Ritchie: Did you have to have a proposal?
Goodman: You have to have a proposal, you have to send clips. It's quite an elaborate process. Then you go through the interview. And I got it.
Ritchie: During that year, you—
Goodman: During that year, I took a lot of courses. I went to all the Niemann programs. I read a lot outside. I made a best friend, and I had a wonderful year. Most people who have a Niemann Fellowship, it's because if they were totally thrilled with what they were doing, they wouldn't want to take the year off, but for most of us, there's some piece that says, "Wait a minute. I want to stop, take a minute, look around, see what it is I might want to do next." It was that for me. I think in many ways it was that for this woman who became one of my closest friends, Patricia O'Brien, who came from the Chicago Sun-Times to a Niemann year. That friendship was also very important to my life.
Ritchie: Did you do any writing, in particular, that year?
Goodman: You're not supposed to do any. I took a short story course and did a couple of short stories, which, I might add, read exactly like columns. [Laughter.] Fiction will not be my thing, although my friend Pat [O'Brien] has become a novelist.
Ritchie: So you're never going to write that great American novel?
Goodman: I will not join the ranks of journalists who become novelists.
Ritchie: So you really didn't do any writing in terms of books?
Goodman: I wrote a book proposal for Turning Points, for this book on social change that I wrote.
Ritchie: Did you do the interviews for that during that year?
Goodman: No, I didn't. I mostly started in the summer after my Niemann year.
Ritchie: So you did that at the same time you were working?
Goodman: Yes. The last year I went on two-thirds time. It took me forever to get this book done, and the last year I sort of went on two-thirds time and wrote the book, then wrote the column, and went generally insane.
Ritchie: A lot to do.
Goodman: Ridiculous! Never, never, never would I try. A day job, a night job, a child, living a life, the whole deal.
Ritchie: Why don't we stop here.
© 1994, Washington Press Club Foundation.
Washington, DC. All Rights Reserved.