[Begin Tape 1, Side A]
Kasper: Good morning, Dorothy.
Jurney: Hi, Anne.
Kasper: How are you?
Kasper: All right. You're holding your own, as they say, is that right?
Kasper: Okay. Well, nobody's had a marvelous winter so I'm sympathetic to your plight and my own as well.
Jurney: Yes, you've had a lot of complications.
Kasper: We've all had complications this winter and let's hope for resolution of all of them.
Jurney: 1990 has got to be a better year.
Kasper: Well, that's what we all have said. I mean, we toasted the New Year with a 1990 and said it was going to be better. Now, it's not starting off on the right foot, but that doesn't mean it's not going to get better. I assume that it will—just as I can see you assume the same.
Well, as we talked, here we are and we're going to begin this life history with you and I'm really looking forward to hearing all that you have to tell because I know when we met before, you had wonderful stories to tell about Marie Anderson and I appreciated many of the things that you did tell me. It was very useful.
Kasper: I'd like to begin with your childhood. Can you tell me something about your early childhood, your parents and your brother and family of origin.
Jurney: My father was a newspaper man. He was not a college graduate, but became a reporter on our hometown paper and eventually bought into the paper.
Kasper: That was the Michigan City News?
Jurney: Michigan City News in Michigan City, Indiana on Lake Michigan. We were located just sixty miles from Chicago—only thirty miles if you sailed across the lake. But that saved us from being quite as provincial as perhaps downstate Indiana towns were—the influence of Chicago, Gary and South Bend. My mother was a college graduate. She had very high ideals. She graduated from Kings School of Oratory in Pittsburgh and was—oh, dear, I can't think of the right terminology that was used at that time for somebody who was—I hate to call her an entertainer. But what she did was travel to put on home talent plays and she also gave readings so that she had a sort of public personality and an outlook on the public. Her mother and my mother's older sister were both college graduates, and I mention that because I think it was unusual for the time of my grandmother to have gone (I believe) to Mercer College in Western Pennsylvania. I must find out. I don't think Mercer College exists anymore, but I want to know what happened to it.
My mother was an activist. She was very interested in the women's suffrage movement. I have a snapshot in which I was riding in an open touring car—I suppose in whatever year just prior to the suffrage amendment. It had been in some parade in Michigan City— as a child. And I think my mother, who worked with the Woman's Study Club. And I'm very high on the women's clubs of my mother's generation and my early years because they did a tremendous amount in raising the cultural sights in the small towns across the Midwest.
Kasper: When you say, "raise the cultural sights," do you mean for women in particular or for the communities as well?
Jurney: I mean the community as a whole. But women had the time to do it—more or less. They had some time to get to organizations and to go to meetings and to listen to speakers. And the only time that men could participate was after work in the evening. And certainly they were influenced by their wives. My father, I understand, had run for the state legislature in Indiana and was defeated. A few years later, my mother ran for the legislature and was elected.
Kasper: And she was one of the first women elected to the Indiana legislature, wasn't she?
Jurney: Yes. There were three women elected that year and Mother was one of them.
Kasper: Can you hold on just one second, I'm sorry. [Tape interruption.]
Jurney: I just remembered the word to describe my mother's profession. She was an elocutionist. I remember as a small child that she gave lessons to young women. I can see them walking across the living room with a book on their head, you see, for proper posture, and then her telling them to breath deeply, you see.
Kasper: From the diaphragm.
Jurney: That's right, from the diaphragm. So my mother and my father were early on very influential in my life. For seven years, I was an only child and we lived out on the edge of town. It was a good ten minutes walk to the trolley even. And there were not very many houses in the area, so that I—well, as a matter of fact, I thought the world was created for me. [Laughter.]
Kasper: That's wonderful.
Jurney: That's how independent I was, and, I guess, self-sufficient from the beginning. I don't know when I finally got over that feeling I had—maybe when my brother came along seven years later.
Kasper: I was going to suggest that often makes a difference in an only child. My daughter was for seven years an only child as well, and while she claims to love her brother a great deal, I know she thought the world revolved around her for a long time. [Laughter.]
Jurney: I also spent a lot of time in a big woods that was across the street from our house. There was a little stream going through it and I was sure that there were fairies there—at the base of these trees near the stream. As I grew older, the dinner table at night was a great schooling for us because my mother told about her experiences during the day, and whether she had been able to sign up Amelia Earhart, for instance, to talk to the Woman's Study Club, which she did. And then my father discussed—my father was very interested in the growth of the community and worked with the Rotary Club and particularly with the Chamber of Commerce in developing small industries coming into the town. We were a town of only 30,000—even when you included the population of the Indiana State Prison, which was in Michigan City. I think there were 2,500 prisoners, generally.
Kasper: And was your mother's work, then, primarily in Michigan City as well? Or did she travel as an elocutionist?
Jurney: Not after she was married, she didn't travel. She did before that.
Kasper: So both your parents were very involved in the community.
Jurney: In the community. Yes.
Kasper: Both in their separate ways, although in some ways, their ways were joined.
Jurney: Oh yes. They had a great interest in what the other one was doing. But this was the dinner conversation, and I think that I grew up with that. I'm not sure whether it was as important to my brother, who was much more of an outdoor, physically active person than I. And as he matured, he was more interested in rebuilding old automobiles, having a rowboat on Lake Michigan, doing all of the physical things, when I think that I was particularly interested more in ideas. I didn't know it at the time, but as I see my development and the contrast between—my brother had a perfectly marvelous personality—very outgoing.
Kasper: And you were very close, too, weren't you?
Kasper: At some—?
Jurney: Well, probably close, but not intimate, because we had such separate ways. And I learned in later years that my brother took an awful lot—I may have to get a cup of coffee or glass of water.
Kasper: Shall we stop and do that?
Jurney: I guess so. Yes.
Kasper: That might be some help to you. [Tape interruption.]
Jurney: In later years I found out that—when it took him so long to go through high school, the teachers would say to him, "But you're not as smart as your sister." Isn't that a dreadful thing to tell him?
Kasper: And how often is that done.
Kasper: The same thing was said to my brother—my younger brother.
Jurney: For heaven's sake.
Kasper: I think it's a terrible thing to do to a younger sibling and I think it happens fairly frequently to be honest with you.
Jurney: Well, and I now realize, and my brother did too—he died three years ago—that he had dyslexia, and of course it had not been identified, and certainly not in Michigan City, Indiana, it wasn't known. We knew he was smart, but we just thought he didn't apply himself. So he got blamed for that.
Kasper: That's a shame.
Jurney: Well, anyway—
Kasper: Do you remember some of the dinner table topics that you say were so influential in terms of the ideas that interested you?
Jurney: Not exactly, Anne, I just knew that it was the accepted thing to be a member of the League of Women Voters, which, of course, was an outgrowth of the suffrage movement. And, oh, I also remember, my mother's problem with trying to get a very talented Jewish woman accepted as a member of the Woman's Study Club. Mrs. Moses Moritz, whose daughter lives down in Baltimore, now, and whom I hope to
go to see again this spring. And I'm not sure that Evalyn is even aware of this. But, there was a great deal of opposition to taking in this Jewish member.
Kasper: Because she was Jewish.
Jurney: Yes. But my mother was able to bring that about, and that was a great triumph.
Kasper: And that was something that was discussed at the dinner table. You remember that.
Jurney: Oh, yes. That's right. And I think there was some discussion of race relations, although it wasn't a big point then. We didn't have very many black people in Michigan City. That became a point in our family later on when my mother hired a woman—I don't think she worked for us full time, I think maybe one or two days a week—Mary McGee was her name. Why I can think of her name, I'm not sure. But, anyway, Mary was a very intelligent woman, but Mother talked about the fact that Mary and her friends were not really accepted in the community. And I know that in my high school graduating class, there was one black boy—Earl McAllister. I won't be able to remember your name this afternoon but I got Earl McAllister out. [Laughter.] He played football. There were a number of Middle Easterners who lived in Michigan City and they came there largely because we had something called the Car Factory, and it started out as Barker—well, Wheel Company, probably. They built railroad wheels.
Kasper: The Barker wheel?
Jurney: Yeah. Later it was bought by the Pullman Company. But there were Lebanese, a small colony of Lebanese, people from—what is it? I'm not sure if we had Iraq at that time but from that part of the world. My father was the epitome of what a reporter or editor should be. He did not draw conclusions. He listened to everybody. And that has been extremely influential in my life. I guess the only ethnic remark I remember him making was in regard to carrier boys.
Kasper: Carrier boys?
Jurney: Yes, newspaper carriers, you see. They delivered the paper. Our paper had 6,000 circulation, while the competing newspaper had only about 3,500. So we, you see, were the dominant newspaper—a daily.
Kasper: And it was a daily.
Jurney: And a daily. And it was a good newspaper, too. I remember even realizing at that time that my father bought some national columns, political columns, and he had—what do you call it? We were neither Democratic nor Republican in outlook, while the smaller paper was very much a Democratic paper.
Kasper: So you take great pride in the fact that your father ran an unbiased newspaper.
Kasper: Something that, not only then, but now, is a fairly rare phenomenon.
Jurney: It's still hard to achieve. Yes. Right. And I certainly inherited from my dad not to form conclusions until you know facts. One of the stories I remember my dad telling at the dinner table was about a Lebanese man who seemed to be (I think it was Lebanese—Middle Eastern), who was wealthier. The others were just—they worked in the car factory. They poured molten metal into the wheel forms, you see, to make the wheels for the locomotives and the railroad cars. They were very hard working. Many of them couldn't read their paychecks. And so, whatever-his-name-was, according to my dad, cashed their paychecks. Well, they didn't necessarily get what the check said, you see.
Kasper: Is that how he made his money?
Jurney: I think that's how he made his money. Nephew Sam was his name. S-A-M. He's long since been dead, so I feel free to speak about Nephew Sam. According to my father, Nephew Sam was accused of—oh, and I'm not going to remember all the details of this—but having killed a man. Anyway, he was not convicted. But my father told these stories as reminiscences, as something that happened that day. And about news carriers, I don't think I finished that.
Kasper: No, I was just going to ask you that.
Jurney: The population, while we had these small groups of Middle Eastern people—and, by the way, we had a mosque in our town.
Kasper: In Michigan City, Indiana, you had a mosque?
Jurney: That's right. I suppose I was in high school by that time. I believe it was one of the first mosques certainly built in the Middle West. I never was in it. I used to hear stories about—they were called dervishes, I believe? Dancing dervishes?
Jurney: Yes. So—
Kasper: Now, were the carrier boys from the Lebanese community more often or not?
Jurney: No. The carrier boys, as I wanted to say, half of our community was Polish and the other half was German, roughly speaking. And my father would say, "If the carrier boy has a German mother, he's going to be a good carrier boy." You know, he'll be attentive to his customers and bring them—customers at that time paid fifteen cents a week for their paper.
Kasper: Fifteen cents a week.
Jurney: Yes. And so, with a German mother, they kept good accounts and turned over their money.
Kasper: And you started very early on working with the newspaper didn't you?
Jurney: Yes. I think in high school and summertimes, I certainly went down and manned the telephone—exchange, I guess we called it in those days. It wasn't a very large device, I suppose, I have no idea, but maybe we had as many as twenty telephones that went in there. I sat on the first floor at the counter where we took in the classified ads. Actually, the circulation department was in the old building. My father had built a new Michigan City News Building which I guess is long since outdated. But we were right across from the courthouse, too, and the police station.
Kasper: Oh, how handy for the News.
Jurney: Yes. The day that a convict by the name of Hamilton broke out of the Indiana State Penitentiary along with four of five of his cohorts, and they went over to meet and free John Dillinger. I don't know whether the Dillinger name means anything to you or not, but he was a reputed bank robber in that part of the country—I guess, Ohio, Indiana, and maybe Illinois. And they did indeed free him from some jail in a small Ohio town. By this time, I'm a reporter and working on the second floor of the Michigan City News Building, and either I or John Bach, who was the city editor, looked out the window and saw all the policemen running out of the police station. And John Bach's father was a guard at the penitentiary, and John, of course, called the police station immediately and found that they were going to the penitentiary and then found that these Hamilton others had broken out. And I'm not real sure of that name, Hamilton, but I think I'm right. And they eventually did release Dillinger and there were more bank robberies in Crown Point, Indiana, I think. Dillinger was later captured outside of the Biograph movie house, probably on Rush Street in Chicago, the Near North Side of Chicago. He was—I probably remember from a movie on all of this—that he was fingered by the woman in red [Laughter]—his girlfriend, I think.
Kasper: His girlfriend. Yeah. I think that's what it was too. Yeah. Now was this a long, running story in the newspaper?
Jurney: Well, it was at least six months. I don't remember the exact time.
Kasper: And were you working at the reporters' end of things at that time?
Jurney: Um hum.
Kasper: So you remember catching some of the facts and watching how it was put together as a news story?
Jurney: Yes. I think we probably had six reporters and I guess that would have included the city editor—who drank [Laughter]. Meehan, his name was, Carroll Meehan.
Kasper: Now your father was editor and publisher, is that correct?
Jurney: Mostly publisher.
Kasper: Mostly publisher.
Jurney: He was extremely interested in the business end of the paper and we also had a job printing plant and Dad got a lot of printing orders from small businesses in Chicago. And that was very important to the proceeds.
Kasper: To the business end of things.
Jurney: Yeah. My dad was running the paper because when he bought into it, he had a partner, Charles Robb, who I guess just got so old that he didn't come to work anymore. I don't remember seeing Mr. Robb at work. And he eventually died and his widow and daughter were silent partners with my father.
Kasper: So there was a staff of six reporters and an editor and—
Jurney: There were—well, let's see. We had somebody that covered the courthouse. And then I think we had somebody who covered—I can see these people—oh, yes, the guy who covered the courthouse was Merritt Sills. It seems to me there was a movie actor with a similar name at that time. Merritt was tall and good looking. I had to take over his beat one day because Merritt came back and started writing his stories and he just repeated phrase after phrase. It turned out—well, he had to be sent back to southern Indiana—Lafayette or something, middle of the state maybe. Merritt had a kidney infection, I think, and this affected his mind. He recovered from it, but never came back to work for us. And then there was a John somebody who covered the police station and the fire station.
And one of my duties—I can't get this in proper sequence, but at one time I know that my assignment, and this was after I graduated from Northwestern in 1930, was to go up and down the main street collecting personals. We had a column. I don't know if you've ever heard of a personals column or not. But most of the personals consisted of those people who had gone into Chicago for the day. And I think I even went down to the electric line, the South Shore Electric Line, to stand there and say, "Oh, so you're going into Chicago. Are you going to the theatre or are you shopping?" And then, you know, I'd write three or four lines for the personals column that day.
Kasper: So it was kind of, who's doing what in our community—
Kasper: —today, tomorrow. Who went on vacation where—
Kasper: —and who went to see what cousin and—
Jurney: Or you had guests coming.
Kasper: Or you had guests, right.
Jurney: And I would stop in the stores and talk to the manager to see what news they might have. That was a very basic beat. I didn't particularly enjoy it.
Kasper: And you're still in high school when you're doing this, too?
Jurney: I may have been doing that while I was in high school. I don't really recall that. But I certainly did it the first year after I graduated from Northwestern because I soon realized that I had to talk like the people on the street. I could not talk as I did in my classes at Northwestern.
Kasper: Because it wouldn't get you the information you needed.
Jurney: Yeah. It would be too stilted.
Kasper: It wouldn't be friendly and comfortable enough.
Jurney: Yes. That's right. But then, getting back to Merritt Sills, the day that Merritt got sick, I had to cover the courthouse beat. There were law cases. I had to go to the county treasurer—city treasurer, I guess, because we were not the county seat. But that was a new experience for me.
Kasper: When you covered that, did you actually write up the articles on what was happening at the courthouse?
Jurney: Oh yes. Yes. I can't imagine what they read like. [Laughter.] But when we had a full complement of staff—oh, and we had a sports writer—sports editor—I guess, he was called. He was very efficient and proficient and I didn't seem to have much to do with him. His last name was Nieman. You know, I can see these people so plainly. And then, at one time, this was after I graduated from Northwestern, we had a young woman. Well, we had first one and then another, a succession of young women who helped with women's news. By this time I guess we were having women's news in the paper, and—
Kasper: This was in the early—around 1930, then?
Jurney: Yes. One of these young women was Helen Crumpacker. And Helen was the daughter of a prominent judge in the community. And I remember Helen telling about her experiences of preparing, I guess, a cake, and she had asked her mother how you did this. And her mother said, "Well, you put a little of this in and put a little of that in." And so she put applesauce in it. And, I guess it was edible, but that was different. We decided that newspaper women didn't know much about cooking. And I think that stuck with me the rest of my life.
Kasper: Now what did your father, or what did the newspaper decide was women's news at that point? What was Helen Crumpacker reporting on aside from poor recipes?
Jurney: We had a lot of Polish weddings. I knew how to spell many Polish names at that time. I remember one in particular, in fact they lived down the street from us—Shibilinski was the name—and you spelled it P-R-Y-Z-Y-B-Y-L-I-N-S-K-I—Pryzybylinski. So we wrote about lace veils and things like that. And women's club news. And I don't know about those personals, whether they were moved out of the general news section and into what was called the women's section. But early on, I began to read the Chicago Daily News. We got the Chicago Tribune at home and it was very much influenced by Colonel McCormick and, even in those days, I guess maybe going to Northwestern, perhaps turned me against the Chicago Tribune although, at that time, Medill School of Journalism, which was your junior and senior years, had a connection with the Tribune and particularly—part of our classes, some of our classes, were held on the Chicago Avenue Campus of Northwestern, rather than in Evanston. And there the instructors were Chicago Tribune reporters or editors, which was a great experience. They came with the assignments that the Tribune reporters had that morning and then they would assign us to these stories.
Kasper: To write up the story itself?
Jurney: To go out on the story.
Kasper: To go out and get the story.
Jurney: Yes. And I remember going to the—oh dear, what it was called I've forgotten, but it was the building in which many of the Chicago courts met, and it was out on the south side of Chicago. And I would be assigned to cover a particular trial. Well, this was pretty darned scary, you know, I hadn't done this sort of thing before. Just even getting out—I think it was on Twenty-Second Avenue—just getting out there was an experience for me. But then I would come back at a certain time. We had a deadline. This was a full day that you spent down on the Chicago Avenue campus and you came back in time to meet this deadline and write the story.
Well, frequently, you would meet up with reporters from the Chicago American or the Chicago Tribune or Chicago Daily News, and I remember that, I guess, being in a courtroom sitting beside two men, a photographer and a reporter, from the Chicago Herald Examiner, I believe it was at that time. And they were, I assume that they checked in with their office, but they were told to leave this court case and go out onto the south side of Chicago to cover a murder of a young woman. And this young man said would I like to go along? And I said, "Sure," I would go along. It never occurred to me that might be dangerous. So we went out to this—I would assume that these people—it was a Polish family and they lived in a second-story flat. And their daughter had been murdered and the reporter had to get the details of this from the parents. Get a picture of her and all of that. Take pictures. Well, this was—you know, I didn't know things like that happened. And then I learned from these reporters that there were many overnight murders in the city of Chicago, most of which there was no reason to cover them because they didn't have any particular—
Jurney: —hook, yes, that would get the reader into it. You had to have money or sex or some sort of drama and I guess this was a young blond girl, you see, who was found lying somewhere or other. So that was a revelation to me, that there was so much crime that went unreported. That's when I learned about the Chicago City News Bureau, which I think still exists. It's an organization—at least it was at that time—which covered all of the police stations throughout Chicago and maybe even the suburban area. And these reporters, all of which were men, I'm sure at that time, would get in touch with their boss in the City News Bureau and report fires or crimes and then they would be told to develop a certain story. It would also go out—there was a wire that went to each one of the newspapers in the city of Chicago, and then they would choose which ones they wanted to cover themselves.
Kasper: So you learned early on from this experience—
Jurney: Oh yes.
Kasper: —that one of the prime motivating news factors in newspapers is crime.
Kasper: —not just in Chicago.
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: But right there in what had been a place of comfort and security and woods filled with fairies.
Jurney: Right [Laughter].
Kasper: You also did a variety of other things for the family newspaper, didn't you? I remember your telling me something about dancing with many, too many, large Polish men. Can you fill me in on some of the other things you did—I think in the circulation department and so forth?
Jurney: Well, I do not remember whether it was I or my father, or the two of us together, that originated the idea of holding a Polish dance contest. But this meant lining up a Polish orchestra from South Bend or Gary, and then writing stories about the—we were going to have contests in polkas and mazurkas, and I think there was some other longer Polish word that I don't remember anymore.
Kasper: And this is all with the intent of increasing circulation in the newspaper.
Jurney: Yes. It was a promotion kind of thing. I didn't know that it was called promotions. We certainly didn't have a promotion department. But the idea was, yes, to involve the people of our town with the newspaper.
Kasper: So that they felt an attachment to the newspaper and would want to buy it and that would, in turn, increase circulation.
Jurney: Yes. And I think we held this Polish dance contest for several years. And indeed, I can remember dancing with these great Polish guys who towered over me and we danced the polka. That was before the beer barrel polka came into being. We also had—I do not know whether it was—what state organization, whether it might have been the Kiwanis or Chamber of Commerce, that conducted a Miss Indiana contest. And various newspapers throughout the state selected their Miss—we chose a Miss Michigan City. I wrote those stories. And it was important to get young women to participate in this and I believe that maybe they had to sell a certain amount of subscriptions. This is a little hazy in my mind.
Kasper: In other words, the woman that the paper would pick as Miss Michigan City was also responsible for increasing the subscription rate to the newspaper.
Jurney: She may have been—maybe this was the way you narrowed down the contestants.
Kasper: Oh, I see. The woman who sold the most was also more likely to be the chosen candidate?
Jurney: No, she wasn't. She wasn't—there were judges who chose the candidate and she was chosen because of her beauty and—gee, I don't remember.
Kasper: Likability or whatever.
Jurney: I guess that she wore a bathing suit, as a matter of fact, and appeared on the stage of the small town movie theatre. And I remember the Miss Michigan City that went the farthest—I think she became Miss Indiana—her name was Jean Kapusta. And Kapusta means cabbage in Polish. The only Polish word I think I know. She was—oh, and she won a convertible automobile, too. I'm not sure that was the event in which the girls had to sell subscriptions.
There was another event and we called it a Mardi Gras except it was held in the fall. [Laughter.] I probably suggested the name, not realizing that Mardi Gras was something that took place—because I'm not Catholic—didn't realize that it took place before Lent. But, anyway, we had Mardi Gras and the winners—and this may be the story I told you because it's very well fixed in my mind. There were ten
or twelve girls that were the winners and I don't know what they got, except that I took them to dinner at the Spaulding Hotel (the building may be standing but it is no longer a hotel) and we had ordered fried chicken. And I cut up a dozen half chickens that night. I didn't realize that those girls had never experienced eating a fried chicken all in one piece, you see. I mean, it came out as a half a chicken and they didn't know how to eat it.
Kasper: Your duties were varied and many—
Jurney: Yeah. Right. [Laughter.]
Kasper: —for the newspaper, including cutting up fried chicken. [Laughter.]
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: You also, I don't mean to interrupt, but you also, I remember you telling me one of your other assignments was knocking on doors of former subscribers and being obliged to ask them why they had dropped their subscription. Is that correct?
Jurney: I think we did it by telephone.
Kasper: By telephone? But you were nonetheless obliged to talk to families who had dropped their subscription to ask them why.
Jurney: Oh, yes. Um hum. We had this strong competition—particularly after the owner of the Michigan City Dispatch was killed in an automobile accident and his widow married Honeywell of the Honeywell Corporation. She was a very charming woman and went into Chicago and instead of—she talked Sears Roebuck out of putting all of their advertising in the Michigan City News. She got part it for the Dispatch. Later on, these two papers went together.
Kasper: They merged.
Jurney: My dad sold out. Yeah.
Kasper: And so it became the Michigan City News-Dispatch after your father sold the paper.
Jurney: Yes. That's right.
I have to tell one more story in regard to the Mardi Gras because one year instead of having fried chicken at the Spaulding Hotel, I took the women into Chicago. And as a student at Northwestern, I had participated in something that was called Reconciliation Tours. And there was an enterprising man who, on weekends, did tours for Northwestern and University of Chicago students. We would spend one whole Sunday, say, in the Russian section of the city. And I remember going to the—well, they didn't call it communist bookstore in those days, but that's what it was. And I think they played the Internationale. There was dancing there.
Kasper: And Rosa Luxembourg was often to be seen. [Laughter.]
Jurney: Yeah. Earlier in the day, we had been at a Russian restaurant and we drank hot tea in glasses.
Kasper: In glasses with sugar cubes between your teeth. [Laughter.]
Jurney: You see, that was a new experience for me, too. Anyway, I thought these girls should be taken on a tour of Chicago and we did. And I think we went to a couple of different churches. We went out on the south side and probably saw Halstead Street.
Kasper: What is Halstead Street?
Jurney: Well, that still exists and it's a point of discussion right now in the city of Chicago. It is where early Jewish, I think mostly Jewish, but probably other ethnic groups, set up stands on the sidewalks and there is a whole—I don't know how large the area is—it's probably ten blocks square or something like that. It's well-known. They have these hawkers in Philadelphia now, the merchants are trying to get rid of them. Somebody wants to, currently, buy this area in Chicago and put up a Marriott hotel or something and move these vendors elsewhere—street vendors is what it was called. Well, that was quite a trip taking those girls to Chicago.
I did features stories. I remember being interested in the early history of the area around what is now the Dunes State Park. It's a—
Kasper: Was it in Michigan City?
Jurney: It's adjacent to it. It's between Michigan City and Gary. And I remember doing a story on an early fur trader. Where I got my information, I don't know. He was long dead. I remember doing a story on somebody from New Buffalo, Michigan, who was alive and that I talked with and he had early memories of trading or—I guess, maybe activity on the Great Lakes, so we ran that in the Michigan City News and it subsequently appeared in the Gary Post Tribune. Believe it or not, our paper, which, as I have said, had already run the story, copied my story from the Gary Post Tribune and ran the piece a second time. After that I guess we changed editors—
[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]
Kasper: —and two points there. Did your father's newspaper cover stories of the Depression in the town? And then, secondly, what was the effect of the Depression on the newspaper and family life?
Jurney: I'm not sure that we recognized it—I didn't recognize it as the great cataclysmic force that it was in the United States. Certainly my dad realized it. As far as coverage, all I remember now is going to the township trustee—the trustee was an elected official and his duty was to look out for the poor in our township. Well, in days prior to the Depression, there probably had been not more than a half a dozen, or perhaps a dozen, families that needed groceries and some help. And the tax money paid for this. Suddenly, there were hundreds of families. I don't remember that our small factories shut down, but they must have as business fell off. I can remember going into the township trustee's office which was only about a block away from our newspaper and seeing these bags of flour, and maybe other grain, and I presume butter came too, and walking through and seeing the people in line and realizing that they were getting food. I think I needed more direction, now as I look back on it. I needed some professor, an economics professor, to tell me what was really—
Kasper: Was happening.
Jurney: —what the significance of all this was. We were so caught up in hard times, it sort of overwhelmed us. And I'm not sure that our paper did any kind of overall, in-depth kind of thing. I'm sure that I probably wrote some stories on the number of families that the township trustee was trying to help, and the fact that a little later on, the federal government was sending flour and sugar and butter which were distributed. Then the WPA came into existence and there was a great deal of criticism that this was make work and—
Kasper: The Work Projects Administration.
Jurney: Yes. And I know that my father being—although he ran a politically independent newspaper, he was a Republican and my mother was a staunch Republican—that my dad, and I guess the men that he associated with in Rotary and Chamber of Commerce and so forth, viewed the WPA as a boondoggle, but they did do things in improving the town. Then along came the Public Works Administration and that was much more effective, and my father's attorney, Tom Mullen, was the head of the PWA projects and I guess these were submitted to the Engineer Corps and I recall that. And we did stories on these—improving our zoo. I'm not sure that we even
had a zoo, but maybe we had a small one. I know my father bought the bears for the zoo.
Kasper: He bought the bears for the Michigan City Zoo?
Jurney: Yes. Yes. And when one of them died, we had a bear rug after that. [Laughter.] The gymnasium for our high school was built under the Public Works Administration and we wrote about that. We certainly wrote about the finances of it, the number of people employed, the planning of it and all that. In the meantime, when—
Kasper: Was the paper itself much affected by the Depression or was the family? Did subscriptions drop and did you feel—?
Jurney: Well, I think that's the time when my dad said if either my mother or I knew any of these people who had dropped their paper, it would be helpful if we called them. And I remember the day that the banks closed. I was walking down the street with my father—that's the main street, Franklin Street in Michigan City—and Dad saying—well, as a matter of fact, none of the banks in Michigan City failed and he was very proud of the fact that they had that much acumen that they had run profitable banking organizations, but they were closed by Roosevelt in the national emergency. And Dad said, "I don't know whether—" this must have been a Friday or a Saturday. "I don't know whether I'm going to be able to pay the employees today." Now this included not just the news staff, but the people in the composing room, whom I knew very well, too, and used to date some of the better looking men in the composing room. He'd said, "I don't know if the carrier boys are going to be able to collect enough money to pay these people." Well, mind you, the carrier boys were collecting fifteen cents for a week's subscription. But he did. He got everybody paid. I'm not sure he took any money home himself, but—
Kasper: So you do remember that. That's quite significant in a child's memory. [Dorothy Jurney later added: I was not a child then. I had already graduated from Northwestern University.]
Jurney: Yes. Yeah. And I remember the young high school boy that I had dated—well, we were both out of high school, but he did not go beyond high school. His mother needed a winter coat so badly and he worked so hard to get enough money to buy her a winter coat. It seems to me it cost all of twenty-five dollars.
Kasper: But still, you remember that was a significant amount.
Jurney: Yes. That was a great hardship. And I had started to work for my dad in 1930 at twenty-five dollars a week. And within a year or two was cut down to fifteen dollars a week.
Kasper: Because of the Depression.
Kasper: What do you think your parents' expectations were for you during this time of growing up in Michigan City?
Jurney: Well, it was determined I was to have a career.
Kasper: Early on.
Jurney: Oh, yes. There was no discussion, it was simply understood that I would have a career.
Kasper: Even though that was unusual at the time, wasn't it?
Jurney: Yes. It was unusual.
Kasper: Why do you think they felt that way, do you know?
Jurney: Well, I guess my mother had had a career. And I leaned a little bit toward—elocution was not the thing in my day, but perhaps the stage would be.
I leaned a little bit toward drama. And as I was going to college and trying to decide what perhaps I should major in. I was extremely interested in economics and thought I would like to be a city manager. I also realized it would be very hard for a woman to become a city manager. And so I didn't pursue that part, although it was a minor at Northwestern—economics was. And I guess that I decided that newspapering was the thing for me. So when I graduated, the only job that I was offered, and of course, Northwestern even at that time, was trying to help its graduates get jobs, the only job I was offered was to work for the Michigan Tuberculosis Association, probably, to put out their publication or publications. I would have liked to have worked for the Chicago Daily News, which just didn't have any women in its newsroom—
Kasper: We're going to hold on a second— [Tape interruption.]
We were talking about your parents' expectations for you and how their expectations for you to have a career was somewhat contrary to parental expectations of that time period. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Jurney: I'm not at all sure that it was that unusual in the 1930s. Now whether the Depression had something to do with that, it's possible. But the girls that I went to college with were all going to become something in the business or professional world. And their courses were aimed at that, very largely.
Kasper: So you're saying you did not know a cohort of women who were going to be wives, mothers, nurses, social workers or teachers, in general.
Jurney: Social workers and teachers, yes. But not women who were aiming to become only wives and mothers.
Kasper: And were your parents' friends, too, then, women who had careers as did your mother, so that you grew up in Michigan City with that example as well?
Jurney: No, I don't think my mother's friends had had careers, but they were women who were interested in what was going on in the world. And there were discussion groups.
Kasper: And those women's study groups that you talked about.
Jurney: Yes. And, not only the Woman's Study Club, but the League of Women Voters, in which I had become a state officer in the League.
Kasper: When was that?
Jurney: Well, it would have been in the 1930s.
Kasper: And you had become active in the League of Women Voters at home in Michigan City after graduation?
Jurney: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yes. I was president of the League there for a couple of terms and was on the board of directors of the state league and my assignment had to do with the study of taxation. I remember going over to Gary, Indiana, to talk to the League of Women Voters there on taxation, which is a pretty complicated subject, or it seemed so to me, and I had forgotten and left all of my talk at home. [Laughter.] So, trying to talk off the cuff as poorly documented as I was in the subject, was very difficult. But when I worked in Gary, I was active in the League of Women Voters.
Before we go on with careers, I have some thoughts here about my feeling for involvement in what was happening in the town. There were two ways to be involved as a newspaper woman. One was to report on what was happening. And I remember going to the meetings of the American Legion Auxiliary, which even then, I realize, were pretty deadly, but I did write about them. I even went to the—it must have been the auxiliary, although I don't think—Lady Elks. That's what it was called. [Laughter.] That was even deadlier. And then my grandmother belonged to the Eastern Star and I went to one or two events of the Eastern Star.
Kasper: Eastern Star. Who were the Eastern Star? That was another group like the Elks or the—
Jurney: Yes. It was the female contingent of the Masonic Lodge.
Kasper: I see.
Jurney: And they had a—I can see this in my mind's eye. What shall I call it? Not a demonstration—but the program that evening consisted of certain members doing a routine around the room, I guess sort of like a march. They were making the points of the star. And I believe each point of the star represented some worthy element in one's life or in the life of the Eastern Star—some do-good things. I became friends with the nuns at the German Catholic church and school and tried to write about anything that they might have been interested in or doing. I tried to crack St. Stanislaus Catholic Church which was the Polish Catholic church, but they were really a very tight ethnic group and I didn't get very far with them. I can remember that—thinking I could see that big church standing there and I really didn't know what they were doing.
Kasper: Now was this all during your tenure as a reporter on the newspaper?
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: Now this is after graduation?
Jurney: Yes. What I did in the summertimes I don't think amounted to very much. But also an important thing that was being revealed to me by the Chicago Daily News were the pages that the women's news editor of the Chicago Daily News by the name of Leola Allard [produced]. She had beautiful pictures on her pages. It might be a picture of a cake with a story about how to make it, but the composition of the picture and the reproduction were excellent. It probably would be a picture or two of some society women at a meeting or maybe League of Women Voters in Chicago, I don't really remember. But I was so impressed with the things that Leola Allard was doing at the Chicago Daily News that I made an appointment and went over and talked with her to find out how she could go ahead and do these things in a newspaper that was so restrictive of women on the paper—
I also had a friend who was one of the first women to work in the newsroom at the Chicago Daily News by the name of Mary Welch. She became Ernest Hemingway's last wife. Mary and I were good friends in college. She was a maverick. And there were only twenty-six of us in our journalism graduating class so that we were fairly close to each other. But the college chapter of Women In Communications would not take Mary Welch in as a member because her grades weren't quite that high. So she was more or less ostracized. Mary and I were friends and continued until she became Mrs. Hemingway. And I—while I was working in the Miami Herald and Mary and Ernest were living in Cuba, I had some correspondence with her. Okay. Back to my—
Kasper: Well, I wanted to move back just a little bit to the two years that you spent at Medill, and you described how you had the wonderful, although daunting, experience of having to cover stories as part of your academic career. Were there other influences at Medill that you can remember that led you into journalism?
Jurney: Probably. I don't think this led me into journalism, but it certainly expanded my mind which I could use in journalism. When my mother became a state legislator and she was—Michigan City had a city manager form of government at that time, I believe the only one in the state, and it was under fire. And I had—my professor of economics had drafted the city manager law. And so I had a great deal to do. I talked with him much about what my mother was trying to do in the legislature. She was also getting a bill through—it finally passed and was signed by the governor—for the registration of voters. Up to that time, almost anybody could vote in Indiana whether you were—well, there was no prohibition of—you didn't have to be a U.S. citizen to vote in Indiana. If you had your first papers you could vote, but you didn't have to have your final citizenship papers. And the man that defeated my mother in the legislature was a German by the name of Krueger who was not a full-fledged citizen. And I covered
that campaign and I remember one of the most difficult assignments for me was when Martin Krueger was speaking in the campaign and he was talking against my mother and saying that she was riding on the shirttails of my father—I can remember that, which certainly was not true. My father was a quiet man, very objective in his outlook, as I have said.
Kasper: So Medill was not just a course on journalism.
Jurney: No, you had to take a certain number of courses.
Kasper: This was a liberal arts curriculum as well, is that correct, even though it was the Medill School of Journalism?
Jurney: It was. Yes. Yes. You had to—
Kasper: And was that the intention there that you have a broader outlook?
Jurney: It was.
Kasper: In other words, you couldn't become really a competent journalist unless you had a broader outlook on world affairs. Is that correct?
Jurney: That's right. Yes. And I chose economics. I think you could do history. I'm not sure, there were probably other areas that were open to you too.
Kasper: But still, with the final objective to teach you about journalism as well. Is that correct?
Jurney: Oh, yes. We had writing courses. We had a course in the meaning of words which I thought was a sort of silly idea and I didn't pay much attention to it. And I've always wished since then that I had. One of the greatest courses there, and it was in the School of Journalism, was a philosophy course called "Contemporary Thought." And we had a perfectly marvelous teacher by the name of Baker Brownell. In fact, he took me out a few times. [Tape interruption.]
Kasper: We were. That's right. We were talking in part about Medill and women in careers at that time period.
Jurney: It was quite accepted, as I recall, that women who were in school from, say, when I was, from 1926 to 1930, pretty much were aiming—the reason you went to college was to aim for a profession. Certainly to improve yourself for your life so that you would appreciate life and appreciate the better things in life. That was very important.
Kasper: You went to Western College first for two years and then to Medill.
Kasper: Now, why was it that it was split that way? Was it that Medill was only two years at that time?
Jurney: No. It was four years, but my mother, and I presume my father, thought that I was not old enough to go to a big university and there were some people in our town, some women, who had been to Western. And there were four or five of us from my high school class that went there.
Kasper: And were these also women who were interested in careers, as you say. You felt that there were a number of women in that time period, did you find that the women at Western College, too, were interested in more than wifehood and motherhood?
Jurney: Yes. Yes, I did. Yes. Very much so. I'm not sure what their goals were, but it certainly was not to go and look for a husband as I know some current friends of mine—one woman who said—I think she went to Wellesley and she went for the
purpose of finding a husband while she was in school, although Wellesley was a girl's school, of course. Yes, I was very upset after, or just before World War II, to learn that the women who were in school then were very much oriented toward marriage and family and that the war had something to do with it.
Kasper: Why did that upset you so much?
Jurney: I guess because it seemed to me backtracking. My mother had worked for suffrage, and I had been very interested in it after I grew up, and I thought women—I guess I was always a feminist. My mother was a feminist, certainly. I was not as outspoken about it, but it was part of my values.
Kasper: And you believed there was more for women—
Kasper: —than just marriage and raising children.
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: And your mother did too.
Jurney: Oh, yes.
Kasper: Why do you say that your mother was perhaps more of a feminist, or at least more of an outspoken feminist than you were?
Jurney: Well, she was a very outgoing person. Yes.
Kasper: And you think you're somewhat more quiet like your father.
Jurney: Yes. Very much so. I would have preferred to write about the activities. But I did mention Leola Allard at the Chicago Daily News and I think observing what she did in the paper led me to realize that there were—that I could expand the stories in our newspaper, certainly in Michigan City, and then at the Gary Post Tribune where I went in 1939.
Kasper: What was it that she told you that made you see that you could expand stories?
Jurney: I don't know what she told me, but I saw what appeared on her pages. And they were stories about women's activities and interests in Chicago.
Kasper: So, in other words, she did not write simply about club notices and tubby-hubby diets and so forth.
Jurney: No. No.
Kasper: She wrote more—
Jurney: She did not write. She was an editor and directed—I don't know what size staff she may have had, but there certainly were—she had an open eight-column page, as I recall, and it may have gone over onto a second page. But activities—I seem to remember a story about—this is kind of ridiculous, but a story about the preservation of the house on Michigan Avenue in which the Potter Palmers had lived. And I think these were the Palmer House—Potter Palmers. So it was an activity of this organization in Chicago. And I know that Leola did tell me that no restrictions were placed on her. Of course, I learned later why, but she also had the acumen to reach out for news.
Kasper: So while she was still covering so-called women's interests, she was covering things more in depth.
Jurney: That's right. And more family things. And I found that even in Michigan City—I remember doing at least one story, and maybe others, on peoples' homes. I tried to analyze, particularly when I went to the Gary Post Tribune and I believe while I was still in Michigan City, analyzing what women were really interested in.
Well, they were interested in their homes. Making them more attractive. And what did these homes look like on the inside? They let me go into their homes, take some pictures and write about them. Probably they were flattered, but also it may have had something to do with the fact that my dad did own the newspaper and my mother was influential in Michigan City.
Kasper: Well, and as you said, too, you were also covering at that time some of the community groups that women were involved in.
Jurney: Yes, very much so. Even a musical group, the Thursday Musicale, would have musical programs, but I didn't say that they met and had tea. I would say what programs they had, what music was played and who played it.
Kasper: And when the Eastern Star folks met, you wouldn't just say that they met.
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: Everybody knew they'd met who was interested in knowing that they'd met, but you reported on what they met about, presumably.
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: So that there was some meat on the bone.
Jurney: The points of the star and how they carried on this little—I can't think of anything—
Kasper: Ritual, I guess.
Jurney: Ritual is the right word for it, yes. I don't think I ever went again to Eastern Star. That seemed to be pretty barren ground.
Kasper: Now you worked at the Michigan City News from 1930 to 1939.
Kasper: Now was it that you were expected to go there upon graduation from Medill or you wanted to?
Jurney: No, it was just that I couldn't find another job.
Kasper: Because it was the Depression.
Jurney: It seemed better than the Tuberculosis Society of Michigan. [Laughter.]
Kasper: And it was because it was the Depression, presumably, as you were a new graduate?
Jurney: Oh, yes. That's why we couldn't find good jobs. Yeah.
Kasper: And so you stayed there nine years. What made you leave and move on to the Gary [Indiana] Post Tribune?
Jurney: Well, my dad had sold the paper, I think probably in 1938, and my brother had left the paper at that time. He was the photographer.
Kasper: Oh, he had been photographer?
Kasper: Your brother's name was Richard, is that right?
Jurney: Richard Misener. And he went to work for the Gary Post Tribune and told me that there was an opening in the women's section there. So I went and talked to—I guess maybe one of the Snyders, who owned the paper at that time, but certainly to Don Dadisman who was the managing editor. And here again, I had no restrictions on what I could put in that section. Don was a very capable editor with a wife who was
very active in the League of Women Voters in Gary, which I became active in, too. But they were intellectuals in Gary. So I reached out to try to find out what people in Gary did and I was able—and I had a staff of four or five women and we sat in the newsroom, we were not segregated except by a little—
Jurney: Well, what is it? A railing. But we could see what was happening in the newsroom and I think that was good. We got a certain amount of vibrations.
Kasper: And some cross-over between your news and their news.
Jurney: Yes. I learned a great deal in Gary. I learned about countries that I didn't know existed, some of which are coming back into the news now. Moldavia, for one. I didn't know that Moldavia even existed. And, I learned that there was such a thing as the Greek Rite Catholic Church in which the priests married. And this priest would bring certain news stories in, I suppose about the women's group and the church or something, and I talked with him about what a Greek Catholic rite church was like. Gary, of course, had a large percentage of the population involved in heavy industry in the steel works, and the Gary Post Tribune was on Broadway, it was called. And the men who were coming and going to the Gary Steel Works, which was owned by U.S. Steel, and we were not very far from the entrance. And I got to work at eight in the morning and there were men who had come off the night shift who were literally in the gutter. Right across the street at the Iron Ingot—a saloon.
Kasper: A bar.
Jurney: Yeah. And several of these fellows would get drunk and lie either in the parking lot or in the gutter outside my window. From the second floor I could see them. There was an author by the name of A-D-A-M-I-C—Adamich, I think it was pronounced. He wrote about immigrants in America and I remember that was an influence on my reporting at that time. I learned about Ukrainians, and there was a strong Ukrainian group, I think both men and women, and we told what they were about and what they were talking about.
Kasper: So the things that you learned about were also materials—material for the stories.
Jurney: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
Kasper: —that you and your staff wrote at that time.
Kasper: And clearly, those are not simply women's—
Jurney: Oh, no.
Kasper: —what we used to call women's stories.
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: These are really general interest or feature stories, as well.
Jurney: This was what was happening in the community. And in the newsrooms—or in the newspapers that I was in, beginning with the Michigan City News and the Gary Post Tribune, the Miami News, and the Miami Herald, and even up and including the Detroit Free Press, they didn't write about what people were doing. They wrote about what happened in the police department, in the courts, in politics, in government, but very little about what was going on in the universities or culturally.
Kasper: Did you believe that that was a big hole in newspaper reporting?
Jurney: Oh, yes. Yes. Because to me it was—it was the people, and peoples' interest.
Kasper: That was important.
Jurney: Yes. And I thought that the people who were not involved in those things ought to know about what was going on.
Kasper: Now, when you say it's people that were important, can you kind of delve into that? I mean, I realize at one level you mean people in the local community and what they're doing, but I think you mean that in a larger way, too. Is that correct?
Jurney: I think that is correct. I was thinking of readers and it was always important to me to interest more readers in the paper. I suppose I was influenced early on by circulation battles, but it was more than that. It was information for readers. And as I have thought of it in more recent years, I have attached the meaning that this is important to our democracy. I feel very strongly the importance of newspapers and the importance of in-depth reporting, not in length, necessarily, but so that the voters know what is happening.
Well, back in Michigan City, it was not only what my mother was doing culturally, but I remember this Jewish family. They did so much culturally in music for the community that—it just wouldn't have happened there if it hadn't been for them.
Kasper: This was the Moritz family that we talked about earlier?
Jurney: The Moritz family, yes. Old Moe Moritz ran the men's clothing store. Evalyn played the piano. Her mother was a singer. Hortense, who is still living, eventually married her violin instructor who was the first chair of the New York Philharmonic, I believe. And I will think of his name after awhile. I covered their wedding in Michigan City. And the name is important because it was an adopted name and I remember the guys on the Michigan City News saying, "Oh," you know, "that's not his real name," and I maintained that it was. Well, I really looked it up in Who's Who and it wasn't the real name at all. His name was a long Russian name, you see. He is now dead, but I will think of it after awhile. But that wedding was in the Moritz home and it was a Jewish wedding and at the conclusion, the bride or bridegroom, or both of them, broke a glass.
Kasper: Right. The groom is obliged to step on the glass that they have both had a sip from—
Jurney: I see.
Kasper: —and break it with his foot because that is—it's intended to symbolize good luck in the future for them as a married couple.
Jurney: Well, you see, that was a great story for me in Michigan City.
Kasper: Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, especially, I should imagine, in Michigan City.
Jurney: Mischa Mischakoff was his name. He's now dead, but his widow is living.
Kasper: Sure, that's a wonderful story. To get back to what you were saying about reporting news that interests the readership, I think it's a real key to the kind of newspaper woman that you were and then became for people to understand that you mean news to be reported in the newspaper that isn't just sort of the dailiness of peoples' lives and what they—
Jurney: Not just events.
Kasper: —want to hear about. Pardon?
Jurney: Not just events.
Kasper: Not just events, exactly. But rather the kind of news that people need to have to be responsible citizens in a democracy, to be informed citizens.
Jurney: To understand what is going on in the U.S. The issues that are developing. You have to sense them when they're first—I remember one of the stories that delighted me most in Detroit. It was the time, I believe there, that the—
Kasper: Was it during the riots when you were there?
Jurney: I was there during the riots.
Kasper: But this was before?
Jurney: But, I'm thinking of something else. What is the organization of young women from well-established families that are sort of social—they used to be in the—
Kasper: The Junior League?
Jurney: The Junior League—took up the human sensitivity movement. Do you recall when there was quite a movement, certainly in the Detroit area, but I'm sure it was—maybe only in the Midwest, and I don't know the nucleus of this. But I sent a reporter, an English girl, to participate in a week's program that was called "Human Sensitivity," and I remember these meetings were held in Birmingham, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. And this—Easalen came along later out in California.
Kasper: The Easalen Institute. And EST?
Jurney: Yes. Yes. Those things sort of followed the human sensitivity movement.
Kasper: Oh, I see. The notion of people getting in touch with each other—
Jurney: And themselves.
Kasper: —and themselves and some connection to the common good as a result.
Jurney: That's right. But we reported on that. And I remember that this reporter who was quite an unusual young woman, and the framework of U.S. newspapers was so different from what she'd been accustomed to in England, where you were subservient to the person who had a little bit better family standing, she really sort of went off the deep end. [Laughter].
Kasper: What did she do?
Jurney: Knowing herself. [Laughter.] The last I heard of her was probably ten years ago and she was somehow connected with the futurist movements.
Kasper: She really got involved.
Jurney: Yes. I also remember in Detroit and this is beyond our time element at present, but reporting on things that were happening at the university, Wayne State University, completely ignored by the newsroom. They just weren't interested. I'm sure that the notices of events happening at the school went to the city desk as well as to me. But I recall—
Kasper: Did the city desk sometimes pick up news that you had covered and sort of take it over once you had made it news?
Jurney: Yes, they did. And I remember a reporter who had researched some story in the—
Kasper: For your department?
Jurney: No. In the Free Press, he was a city-side reporter. And he had researched whatever the story was in our library, the Free Press. And he said, "But I found the women's department had done this all before." He came and admitted it to us.
Kasper: So was this true too with the Gary paper? That because you were all in one big room with this railing between you, were there sometimes stories that you would cover in the women's department that then became news on the city side?
Jurney: Anne, if there were, I have forgotten it. I was not aware of it there. And I was there only two years. And I don't think my antenna was really out into what was happening in the community as well as it was later on.
Kasper: Later on.
Kasper: You stayed there two years and that was 1939 to 1941. That was about the time that you met Frank Jurney, isn't that correct? Could you—
Jurney: Yes. We were married while I was at the Gary Post Tribune.
Kasper: Where did you meet Frank?
Jurney: Frank had been an engineer for a Chicago architectural firm and this firm was the architect for the Public Service Company Building in Michigan City. It was built on Lake Michigan and used—I guess used water power to generate electricity. And he had gone back to Chicago and took a trip to the Panama Canal, among other places, and sent me a postcard to the Michigan City News. By this time, I had moved on to the Gary Post Tribune and the card was forwarded to me there. And so I remembered what his home address was in Chicago and wrote to him.
Kasper: And you married in 1940, is that correct? You and Frank—
Kasper: '39. Um hum. And was that why you left the Gary newspaper, the Post Tribune?
Jurney: Well, one of my interests in Frank was the fact that he seemed to be—well, before we were married, I remember him saying that he was interested in perhaps going to China. That there were engineering projects there. Well, I thought that was a great idea. We didn't get there. He had a son by his first marriage. His wife had died. But that kind of an outlook, the fact that he had been through the Panama Canal and we eventually wound up there, because there were engineering jobs that opened there.
Kasper: But, is the reason you left the newspaper because you and Frank moved on to Panama? Was that the reason?
Jurney: That's right. Yeah. And I had thought that I was going to spend my time learning about Panama and the Canal, but I found that without a job I was sort of at loose ends. So I got myself a job, a civil service job, as assistant to the press representative of the Panama Canal which opened up a whole new set of information.
Kasper: It was a whole new world for you.
Jurney: And meeting Panamanians was a great experience because I had come from a family where life was real and life was earnest. And, in Panama, the Panamanians lived for mañana.
Kasper: Si. Si.
Jurney: Put off what you might have to do today until mañana. That was a whole new aspect of life. No, as I look back at it, Anne, I think this [interview] may be sort of an ego trip for me, but I believe truly that I didn't have much fear of what would happen in life and I guess I got that from my dad, and maybe from my mother who had traveled through West Virginia by stagecoach to put on home talent plays.
You didn't need to be afraid. You opened up and you looked at what was available to you.
Kasper: And you went for it, as they say today.
Jurney: Yeah, you went for it. Yeah.
Kasper: And so Frank Jurney filled that bill to some degree too—
Jurney: Yes, very much so.
Kasper: He seemed to have an adventurous spirit that you—
[End Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]
Kasper: Well, Dorothy, we left off with you having married Frank Jurney and gone off to the Panama Canal Zone.
Jurney: Oh, yes. And got myself a job in civil service which was a really very interesting job because the so-called third locks were under construction. It was just before World War II and our government thought that—apparently they had some feeling that Japan—maybe not Japan, but anyway, that the present locks being side by side, the set of locks, could be destroyed with one bomb—would destroy both the eastbound and the westbound—or it may be northbound and southbound. Panama is such a peculiar country. It's in an "S" shape. Anyway, so they decided to build the third locks.
Kasper: As a security measure so that Canal could still be open should something happen to the others.
Jurney: Yes. That's it. And they were building these right along side each set of locks. So the government finally perceived that one bomb could destroy all three and they stopped building the third locks. That was after I left. But I was there for this early construction. And we were writing about it. Our job was to do—in the office of the press representative of the Panama Canal, we were to do stories that were picked up by the Panamanian newspapers. The reporters were not allowed to visit offices and talk to people in the U.S. government. Government employees were thoroughly discouraged from talking to the Panamanian newspapers.
Kasper: I see. The Americans were not to take initiatives with the Panamanian newspapers.
Jurney: That's correct.
Kasper: I see.
Jurney: We were to—we were the intermediary and we reported on what happened in the Canal Zone and the newspapers didn't really go around that.
Kasper: So was your job then—you did writing for the U.S. representative to the Panama Canal Zone?
Kasper: So then what kinds of things were you writing about?
Jurney: We were writing about the construction. How many cubic feet of earth had been moved and any changes in schools. Well, I can recall particularly the retirement of canal employees who, some of them had been there since 1914 when the French turned the canal over to the U.S. government so that I got a chance to review canal history through the stories about these retirees, or their deaths. I remember a friend of mine, that I had not known previously, a younger woman, was raped while I was in the Canal Zone and we handled that story for the Panama newspapers.
Kasper: So the stories that you wrote were then translated and used in the Panama newspapers, is that correct?
Jurney: They were written in English. They were picked up in our office every afternoon. And the Panama papers were printed—both the Panama Star—La Estrella—and Panama American were printed half of the paper in English and half of it in Spanish. And if they wanted the story to appear in the Spanish section of the paper, they translated it.
Kasper: But they were not allowed to send their own reporters into the Canal Zone, is that the issue?
Jurney: That's right. They came to our office, but they did not go to the office of any of the executives or people working in the Canal Zone or our police forces. I don't know what they were called.
Kasper: So you were the intermediaries.
Kasper: You were the news intermediaries between the U.S. representative or the U.S. government in—
Jurney: Panama. Yeah.
Kasper: —the Canal Zone and the government of Panama itself or the country of Panama.
Jurney: Yes, that's right.
Kasper: Now I remember when we talked in April last when you came to Washington that you said when you and Frank Jurney married and went off to the Panama Canal Zone, you said something about how Frank had said to you, just before you got married, something about how he thought after you got married that you should not work.
Kasper: Do you remember that and do you remember what your reaction was to that?
Jurney: Well, I don't remember it as well as I did last April apparently, but before we were married, he did indeed say that he didn't think I should work. And I said, "Well, I didn't want to have any children and work was really more important to me than getting married." I don't know if that's the way I put it in April or not.
Kasper: Yeah. Yeah. It was something to that effect. It was something about you weren't sure whether in fact the two of you should be married if he didn't think you should work because you wanted to work.
Jurney: Yes. Yes. That's right. That was the sense of it.
Kasper: Now once you were married—he obviously went along with that because you were married.
Jurney: Right. There was no other way.
Kasper: There was no other way. How did he react to your working down there and then subsequently—
Jurney: He never had a negative reaction. I think I was learning so much about Panama and the Canal Zone that he enjoyed knowing about these things. And we did indeed make more American friends that way. But through him we made some Panamanian friends, too, and we were able to travel some. There was a man by the name of Jungle Jim, an American [Laughter]. I don't think I'm going to remember his last name—it doesn't matter. [Dorothy Jurney later recalled that his last name was Price.]
Kasper: It doesn't matter not with an acronym like Jungle Jim.
Jurney: He had worked in Honduras in the banana companies, as I recall, and did indeed run a little tourist business in Panama and we went on one or two of his trips. One was down into the jungle just north of Colombia where the Choco Indians lived and in extremely, what we would call, primitive conditions. We went down by boat and this is—the war was already underway. I don't remember thinking of any hazard getting down there. And we went into San Miguel Bay which had been named by Balboa for St. Michael—Balboa when he discovered the Pacific Ocean.
Our boat was a launch on which we slept overnight. I don't think there were more than ten of us, maybe, on the boat. But it ran aground as the tide was coming out. There are very high tides down there. And got a hole in the bow of the boat. Jungle Jim cautioned us to stay on board until the tide was completely out and then we could disembark onto the sand bar that we had hit. And some small boats came up and took us to the little town of Garachiné, a Panamanian town, inhabited by descendants of blacks who I guess had been slaves of the Spanish and had run away to Garachiné. These were the descendants of them. And from Garachiné we went back into the jungle. I'm wondering if I'm confusing two different trips, but I don't think so. I'll have to think about that a little bit.
Kasper: But the point of the story was that you had met this interesting character named Jungle Jim and you did take all of these interesting trips and side bars, if you will, to living life in Panama.
Jurney: Yes. And—
Kasper: You with your job. And Frank was part of the Army Corps of Engineers, is that correct?
Jurney: He was a civilian employee.
Kasper: Civilian employee.
Jurney: So we walked back into the jungle for several miles, I guess, and Jungle Jim would say, "Now, be careful, here are some—" Not construction ants, but carpenter ants—something like that. Ants that pick up things.
Kasper: Those huge ants?
Jurney: —pick up things and carry them on their backs. "Be careful, don't step on those, you know, they'll bite." So we had to step over them. We finally got to a little Indian town—not a town, but three or four huts built up on stilts—and went up into the huts. Somebody had told us, I suppose Jungle Jim, that we could trade things. And somehow we knew that to take knives would be important. And we traded some knives—butcher knives, I think—with the Indians for—I don't think I pointed them out when you were in the apartment, but for some balsa wood figures—one was a male and one was a female figure.
Kasper: On the shelf there?
Kasper: Near the—yes, I did notice them. The tall thin ones?
Jurney: They were highly decorated, highly colored, when we got them. Coming back from that trip, we understood—it must have been radio or maybe telephone—that Jungle Jim said that there was an American submarine down off de las Perlas Islands—the Pearls. And the submarine was lost. It was not recovered at that time. It may have been recovered a couple of weeks later.
Kasper: And this was during World War II so that fear was that it was a German submarine that sunk it?
Jurney: No. No. We seemed to know—no.
Kasper: Just lost.
Jurney: It had submerged and was unable to come back up as I recall.
Another interesting trip which I'll mention only briefly, but all of these things influenced me and my interests in the world, was a trip on the Atlantic side of Panama. We went to Portobelo, which the English admiral Edward Vernon attacked and destroyed in 1739. [Dorothy Jurney later added: I did not mention this in the interview but, if my memory serves me right, Admiral Vernon was an uncle of George Washington and it was for him that Mt. Vernon was named.] Portobelo at the time we visited it was inaccessible except by boat. They had a festival of the Black Christ. And the Black Christ was a statue in dark wood which had been intended for Colombia. It was carved in dark wood for the Indians, you see, and it had been sunk there in this particular bay on the Atlantic coast. And the ceremony was performed in the Catholic church in this little, muddy town and it was a weird Catholic ceremony.
Frank was Catholic although he went to an Anglican church down there for a long time before he discovered, just before I got there, that it was Anglican and not Catholic. [Laughter.] Went faithfully every Sunday morning thinking he was going to mass.
Anyway, this church service seemed to be a combination of Panamanian Indian animist ritual plus some current Catholic ritual. And at the conclusion of that, this large figure of Christ which was bearing a cross and the saint who picked up the cross so it wasn't so heavy for Jesus was on this same platform. I'm sure it's still there. But it was picked up by an equal number of men on each side and to the organ and drums and whatever—trumpets or whatever music. The organ lasted only until they got to the entrance or exit of the church, but then the other music continued out into the street, which was muddy, was not paved, and this was in the rainy season. And it was a march and my history of Panama would tell what this particular march was called, but the men who were carrying this very big statue that had been—it was usually in the church—would make three steps forward and two steps back, three steps forward and two steps back. And all the way through these streets which were lighted only by candles.
Kasper: It sounds beautiful.
Jurney: There were no street lights of any kind and this was about midnight. And a lot of the parishioners carried candles and walked backwards as this—
Kasper: Procession went by.
Jurney: —procession continued. And then we went—I don't think we waited, it would have been several hours before the procession would have gotten back to the church. We went on out to the little launch and got on it. And that was a little hazardous, but we finally made it back the next morning over to Colón where I stopped and did some reporting for the press representative for the Panama Canal.
Kasper: Now did you write up any of these travels? Were they ever used?
Jurney: Oh, yes.
Kasper: You did. And what form did they take?
Jurney: Mostly I did it in speaking. The Feast of the Black Christ. That's what that particular thing was called. And I did a freelance piece which was used in several newspapers in this country. Not at that time, but later on I was doing some travel stories.
Kasper: And do you remember some of the newspapers that they appeared in?
Jurney: No. I think all of that material is out at the University of Missouri in the women's collection out there.
Kasper: Where your papers are.
Jurney: Yeah. I got rid of all of them.
Kasper: Now you and Frank stayed in Panama for what, was it two years?
Jurney: Almost two years. Not quite.
Kasper: Almost two years, yeah.
Jurney: But by this time, his son is grown and is going to have to go into the service. We had intended to go down into Venezuela where Frank had some long-time friends working, but we didn't do that. We came on back to the States and Frank renewed his connection with the Engineer Corps and worked for them in Florida. No, I guess first in Arlington, Virginia. We went there. And that's when I went to work for the Washington News. That would have been in 1944-46 if my memory coincides with that. [Laughter.]
Kasper: That's right. You were the assistant city editor at the Washington News.
Jurney: News. Yes.
Kasper: Tell me, how did you get yourself that position?
Jurney: Well, I had a friend, or Frank had a friend, Jim Handley, who died just in the last year or two, who was working in the government for the—the draft agency, whatever that was called. And I think Jim steered me to the now defunct Washington Star and I applied to a fellow by the name of Hill—Bill Hill—who I guess was the city editor. And I applied for a job as a reporter and he came out, and was obviously very harassed and very busy and didn't really want to take time to talk to me, and the only part of the interview that I recall was, he said, "How long did you cover police?" Well, in Michigan City, I had gone into the police station, you know, like half a dozen times when the regular reporter was ill. So, when he found that out, he said there was no job.
Kasper: There was no job?
Jurney: That's right. No job. So I went then—
Kasper: Because you hadn't covered the police enough to qualify at the Star.
Jurney: That's right. That's right. Yes. So then I went over to the News. I'm not quite sure why I decided upon the News but I did, and talked to the editor, who was John O'Rourke, now dead. And John gave me quite a lengthy interview in which I was able to tell him what I had done in Michigan City, Indiana, and Gary, Indiana, and the Canal Zone, and he said, "Yes," he would like me—oh, now let's see, I had also been in Florida at the Miami News.
Kasper: I think you'd been there briefly.
Jurney: Yes. Right.
Kasper: Because you were there at two different spots.
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: One before the Washington D.C. News and one after.
Jurney: Okay. This was—
Kasper: I was going to correct you when we got to it later.
Jurney: All right. Thank you. And he asked me what I had done in Miami, but particularly how much money did I make. And I don't know, it was like $35.00 a week. By this time, I'd come up, you see. Or maybe it was even $50.00 a week. And he said, "Well, we can pay you more than that," and I believe he said it would be $58.00 a week and come to work tomorrow. And I said, "Fine. What time?" And he told me—I think it was six in the morning. And I was going out the door when he said, "By the way, what is your name?" [Laughter.] Well this was at the time in World War II when most of the men, you see, had gone overseas so that I was filling in for somebody who was not there.
Kasper: So you think the reason you got the job—
Jurney: Oh, yes.
Kasper: You know that the reason you got the job as assistant managing editor was because of the—
Jurney: Well, let's see. I was not—I did not have a title. I was going to be an editor on their local copy desk. I was to read and edit copy—only that copy that was produced for the District of Columbia.
Kasper: I see.
Jurney: And I did that for a few months and the two men that I was working with were both expert newspaper men, but they were drunks, and they were older and when they got drunk and fell by the wayside, I took on more responsibility until then indeed I took the position of the assistant city editor.
Kasper: So, to some degree, the whole reason you got a foot in the door at the Washington D.C. News was due either to the war or to men drinking.
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: Because it was very rare for a woman—
Jurney: Yes. To be in that position.
Kasper: —to cover. Well, the local news I could see, but still just even as a general reporter on a newspaper in those days, and certainly as an assistant city editor, that was quite an unusual phenomena.
Jurney: Yes, but we had a number of—well, not a number, but we had several women on the staff. One was called Cokey Ball. I don't know what ever happened to Cokey. She was a general assignment reporter. There was a smaller, dark-haired woman whose name I don't remember, also a general assignment reporter. And there was Martha Strayer.
Kasper: Hmmm. Why do I know that name?
Jurney: Well, Martha was a very excellent reporter for a number of years in Washington. Martha was a good reporter, she could gather news, she had excellent sources, she couldn't put it together. And I really made my reputation by rewriting Martha Strayer's copy. But I was always careful, early on I learned that you better talk with the reporter after you had rewritten their material to make sure that you were saying what they intended to say. And Martha and I got along fine. She always thanked me for what I did. I wish I could think of the other women who were reporting at the same time she was. But this was the small group of women that Eleanor Roosevelt took under her wing.
Jurney: Another woman who is my friend today was writing under the name of Ruth Sarles. And she married—oh dear, I'll think of this in a minute. [Dorothy Jurney later recalled that it was Bert Benedict.] She lives in Washington in a retirement place on Connecticut Avenue that's run by the Baptists.
Kasper: Is it then your tenure at the News where you got your feet wet in terms of the kind of editing you came to be well-known and well-respected for?
Jurney: Yes. Yes. It was a Scripps-Howard newspaper. It was a very good newspaper. John O'Rourke had a good concept of what should be in the paper and what was the role of this tabloid, the Washington News.
Kasper: Catherine East said it was the kind of newspaper that government bureaucrats and government employees would come out at lunch time and want to buy because the information in it was not just sort of some compilation of, you know,
the events and noisy news, but rather the stuff they needed to know about. How government ran—
Jurney: Yes. We had some good—
Kasper: —what the government interests were.
Jurney: We had some good columnists. And Martha Strayer, no not Martha Strayer, Ruth Sarles-Benedict. Her husband, whose first name was Bert, owned Editorial Research Reports which I think is still in existence and is owned by the Poynter family, the Congressional Quarterly. But at that time, Mr. Benedict and his partner produced their reports in the old Washington D.C. News Building which was on Thirteenth Street—1013 Thirteenth Street—near K. They produced this probably once or twice a week report which gave the background of the issues before Congress. Well, Ruth's husband, who was doing the backgrounding of all this, Ruth was covering the Capitol Building for the News.
Kasper: So between the two of them, they had a lot of territory covered, didn't they?
Jurney: Yes, they did.
Kasper: And it was interesting news.
Jurney: And I was reading Ruth's copy which didn't need much changing like Martha Strayer's copy did. But Ruth's knowledge of the Hill and the congressmen and senators that she interviewed, this was all a revelation to me. And when I became assistant city editor and then acting city editor, I was supervising the production of—I say, production, I mean the assigning of stories and the follow through on stories that affected everything that happened in the District. If it was a murder, I had to see that our man that covered the police department covered all the angles on the story. And our great thing was to beat the old Times Herald on these stories. And indeed, to be on the street by eleven o'clock in the morning to meet those people that sold our paper to those that came out of the federal offices. And that's why I went to work at six. Got off work at three in the afternoon. Went to bed a few hours later.
Kasper: So you covered not just local news, what was happening in the District of Columbia, but you also covered what government employees needed to know about what the government was doing. Is that correct?
Jurney: Yes. That's right.
Kasper: So it went as far as being foreign affairs news as well. I mean, it was not just, you know, murders in the capital city, but let's—
Jurney: I don't think that we did a great deal in actual coverage of foreign affairs. We used whatever news service—what did I say, what kind of a newspaper this was? Scripps-Howard.
Kasper: A tabloid, Scripps-Howard.
Jurney: Yeah. Whatever service Scripps-Howard was buying, and I assume this was both the Associated Press and United Press and maybe even INS at that time.
Kasper: INS is—?
Jurney: International News Service which became UPI. The "I" was for International. It was originally just United Press. There were some women who worked for those press services during the war. I won't remember their names now.
Kasper: What were your duties then as assistant city editor?
Jurney: To assign the reporters. To decide what stories we would develop and assign the reporters to them. And it was a great school because our reporters and editors would have to put in six paragraphs, what maybe the Times Herald and the Washington News devoted a column to because we didn't have any more space than that.
And the shorter the story, the more difficult it was to write. That's what I learned there that I had never known before.
Kasper: You mean because you had to fit so much in such a short space.
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: Such a small space. And yet it had to be—
Jurney: Just a few sentences.
Kasper: It had to be—
Jurney: It had to be complete.
Kasper: Complete. Um hum.
Jurney: So that you had to pick out the most salient points and get them in the few inches that you had.
Kasper: And that called on really superb editing skills. No wasting of words.
Jurney: I developed my skills, that's for sure. And worked with quite an interesting group of younger people, both men and women. And I would say the women had been hired—with the exception of Martha Strayer and Ruth, now Ruth Benedict—I think they were both on the staff long before I was, but Cokey Ball and one or two other women. Oh, and yes, we even had a society reporter. We had a society columnist. Gordon was her last name. I haven't thought of her in fifty years. They owed their jobs to the fact that men had gone to war. And eventually, after the war was over and the men were coming back, we lost our jobs. And I remember John O'Rourke telling me that this young man—Daniel—was coming back. Now, he had never been on the news side. "He had been a cub reporter in the sports section," he told me, "so he doesn't know anything about editing and he doesn't know about being a city editor. But Dorothy, I would like you to teach him his job."
Kasper: So you're telling me that the manager of this newspaper told you that you were to train a cub reporter who knew nothing about the city beat to take your job.
Jurney: To take my—the job.
Kasper: Away from you.
Jurney: Yes. Because I was acting city editor and he would be city editor. And John O'Rourke said, "Dorothy, you know, I would like to make you city editor, but I just don't think it would work. You know why?" And I said, "Yes, I'm a woman." He said, "That's it." And then he said, "So I have this young man coming back," (I think he had been stationed in India—his last name was Daniel—not Clifton Daniels, but Jim Daniel).
Kasper: How did you feel about that then and how do you feel about that now?
Jurney: I'm more resentful now than I was then. I accepted it as a fact of life then. But I did say, "Mr. O'Rourke, it will cost you more money." So I got a raise. Not a big one, but, I suppose $15.00 a week or something like that. And it turned out that—Jim Daniel his name was—wasn't very good at this. And so it wasn't long before I really resented the job. And I remember Ruth Sarles and her husband saying that you know it was a lousy thing that I didn't have this job and that Daniel did have it.
But about this time, Frank Jurney was becoming very uncomfortable in working for the Engineer Corps. And Frank was a bright man. Not a college-trained engineer, but he was finding it more difficult to work for nincompoops. So he got a job with private industry and we went back down to Florida. We were—the job that Frank had was in the Fort Lauderdale area for a construction firm that was building docks where the oil tankers could unload heavy oil into sunken tanks there. We, however, lived in Miami and I went back then to the Miami News.
Kasper: Now you had worked for the Miami News—
Jurney: About nine months.
Kasper: —in '43 and '44. Yeah. For about nine months. And you were the editor of the women's department at that time? No.
Jurney: No, I was assistant to the editor and her name was Helen Muir. She lives in Miami and wrote Miami USA which she is just revising now. And I had hoped to be down there in December. Helen has always had a party for me every year. But because of Charles I couldn't—
Kasper: Go this year.
Jurney: —spend that much time. I went to see my great niece. I'm trying to sort it out which great niece. This was the one who graduated. So I just went to St. Petersburg and then on up to Tallahassee. But Helen was a heads-up—she was a very good writer. She wrote a good column. She was not as experienced an editor as I was, so she left most of that for me.
Kasper: Had she hired you at the Miami News? Was she the one who hired you?
Jurney: I think the managing editor, Hoke Welch, hired me.
Kasper: Did he hire you for your editing skills? Is that right?
Jurney: Yes. Yeah.
Kasper: It was in '43 to '44 that you were at the News, and then back in '46 to '49—
Jurney: Yes, that's right.
Kasper: Working for Hoke Welch.
Jurney: Yes, but by this time, Helen Muir who was an intellectual and brilliant and a good writer and respected people with some ability—knew what to do with them. She had left the paper because I think her husband who was an attorney had come back from the war. He was a navigator in the air service. In '46 we had a society columnist who was women's editor, Martha Lummus. Martha is still living, I think. Society had a capital "S" with Martha. And there really wasn't a great deal of opportunity to develop good stories in the community under Martha. So having had that experience on the Washington News, I really became unhappy working under Martha. And when I was rehired by Hoke Welch, I had asked at that time, I said, "Hoke, you know, I've been working for two years in the newsroom of the Washington D.C. News and that experience was very important to me and I would like to continue in the newsroom." Well, he had this opening in the women's department. And I said, "Well, if an opening comes in the newsroom, I would like to be transferred." So when it became untenable for me to stay in the women's section, I went to Hoke and reminded him of his promise. And he said, well, he would see what he could do. And either later that day or the next day he called me in and he said, "Dorothy, there isn't anything I can do about it. I've talked to Dan Mahoney, who was a son-in-law of old Governor Cox.
Kasper: Marie Anderson told me about Governor Cox. He certainly had a wide reputation.
Jurney: I tell this as an aside and an interjection, but while I was still working in Michigan City, Governor Cox was a candidate for vice president on the Republican ticket and he had been driving with his wife, I think coming from Cleveland or somewhere in the East, and stopped off at the Spaulding Hotel to listen to the radio and to see whether he got nominated during the national convention. And I guess the hotel called us and I went down and talked to him that time. My other contact with Governor Cox. Okay, where are we?
Kasper: Well, tell me, what was it about Martha Lummus and society with a capital "S" that you objected to? Why was this not the kind of journalism that you wanted to do?
Jurney: Well, it was a very small world in social circles in Miami. In fact, it was two worlds even then. The one of the small group of Miamians who either had been there since the early 1900s—I believe Miami was founded in 1896 and Marie would know all of the—
Jurney: '90. 1898 or something like that.
Kasper: Yeah. She would have reported all of that in the book she did.
Jurney: In that book. Yes.
Kasper: Julia's Daughters.
Jurney: Yes. So these were some of Julia's daughters and Julia's sons that were in the social set and it was all about parties. Well, there was more to life in Miami than parties. Martha did do some reporting from among the Miami Beach crowd and their activities were rooted mostly in the private social clubs. The Bath Club was the most distinguished club down there. Another club up on the northern end of the beach was the Surf Club. You can only write so many times about the same people doing the same things and maintain any interest in it or significance—it had no significance—very little significance, let's say that.
Kasper: It certainly wasn't a wide readership, you were reaching the people who went to the parties and already knew about them anyway.
Jurney: That's right. And a small group of people who wanted to see what the rich people were doing. But Martha didn't do the kind of reporting that some society writers, particularly on the Washington Post did back in those days when they wrote about Senator This and Congressman That who was discussing this and this bill while going to that party, see.
Kasper: Which had a slightly different angle.
Kasper: I mean it had some substantive news, shall we say—
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: —attached to the social news.
Jurney: Yes. And I thought it was a great mistake when Dave Laventhal decided that the party coverage in the Washington Post should be cut down. And Dave, of course, is now head of Times Mirror Corporation and a very smart newspaperman. He's president of it. [Tape interruption.]
Kasper: —about it, exactly. Right. Dave Laventhal was the architect of what's called the Style section.
Jurney: Yes, he was.
Kasper: Or Living sections, as they are in various papers, isn't that correct?
Kasper: And you take some exception to that, don't you?
Jurney: Oh, definitely.
Kasper: Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Jurney: Yes, if we've concluded what we want to say about Miami.
Kasper: Well, we can come back to that. Since you mentioned his name, I thought we might as well pick it up.
Jurney: All right. I was working for the Free Press at the time Dave Laventhal came to talk with me. He was going across the country gathering ideas for changes on the Post. Dave had—now, you see, my mind has skipped a beat or two here. Would you turn that off just for a minute? [Tape interruption.]
Jurney: Because I had left Miami and left Frank Jurney, having met Charles McKee, there were a few other steps in between, I decided that I should leave Miami, and I started looking for a job in New York and in Washington. I went back to John O'Rourke and asked for a job, but he didn't offer me anything that was significant or was interesting. And I had some contacts in New York and I didn't find anything there that I thought was going to be to my benefit.
Lee Hills heard about the fact that I—Lee was the executive editor of the Miami Herald by this time, and he learned that I was doing this through Eleanor Lambert, whose husband was the executive editor of a now defunct paper in New York City. And I had gone to talk to him about a job. His name wasn't Lambert, it was something else. Eleanor Lambert was the woman who headed up an organization for dress designers and dress manufacturers and she put out fashion releases for the newspapers and eventually started to write a column. She was a good friend of Lee and Eileen Hills. So she told Lee I was looking for a job and Lee offered me a job on the Free Press and that seemed like a good place to go.
And I am saying all this for the reason to say that the Free Press section that I was to direct was called a Family section. And I felt that the word family was not close enough. Maybe today it would be because there is so much emphasis on family life and making for better family life. But I thought it was pretty nebulous and I remember that under Lee I had learned that in the headlines if you could use the word "Dad" or "Mom" or "Son," so much better than if you said a family member or something. Make it as concrete and as personal as possible. So I was instrumental in changing the name of the section back to "For And About Women."
Kasper: At the Detroit Free Press?
Jurney: At the Free Press. Yes.
Kasper: And that's when Dave Laventhal had come along to talk to you?
Jurney: Yes. And because I think we were doing interesting things—
[End Tape 2, Side A; Begin Tape 2, Side B]
Jurney: —what a section should consist of to interest women readers and I presume men, too, because that certainly was the bent which the Washington Post followed. I was dismayed later to find that entertainment was taking over in their Style section and that women's news had pretty much disappeared. True, that a great deal of it had been society news, and I can't remember the name of the reporter at that time. I believe she was also called the editor of the section. I think the thing—to have done on the Washington Post was to have curtailed society, cut it down to one or two columns, or even three columns, in a good-sized Sunday section and to have
elaborated more on what Washington women were doing at all levels. Those who were employed by the government—
Kasper: Those who lived in the community.
Jurney: Yes, that's right.
Kasper: So was it your feeling that the consequences of Dave Laventhal's changes decimated the women's pages?
Jurney: Yes. That was one of the reasons—I talked with Dave about that later and told him I didn't like what had happened. And he said actually what had happened on the Post was not the way that he had seen it—was not what he recommended. And he was not in charge of the section. I don't remember who was, but his ideas were not completely carried out so I can't blame Dave completely for it. [Laughter.]
But another thing that happened about this time—male editors figured that something needed to be done with the old society sections in their papers, and they were right. Something did need to be done. But not what they did. In large part, they did not know how to cope with the women who were running those sections—women like Vivian Castleberry and myself. So they put men in charge. And, of course, that's what happened in Dallas. A guy that I worked for here in Philadelphia went down and became the executive editor of the Dallas Times Herald and Vivian became a reporter, I guess, instead of the women's editor.
When Catherine East and I were studying those newspapers that later led to the development of New Directions for News, now located at the University of Missouri, Vivian Castleberry's section was one of the outstanding ones in the country. And all of the good stories, (good stories is not good terminology), but, all of the stories that dealt in depth with the social issues affecting women and the family in the times that we were studying them, which would have been in the early 1970s—the best stories were done either in sections or by women who had been women's editors. They knew what they were talking about. They saw the importance of family—changes in family law and what that meant. And I think Vivian did a remarkable series in Texas.
Kasper: Indeed. And people like yourself and people like Vivian covered the wide-ranging meaning of family issues.
Kasper: The premise being that these are not just stories about why marriages succeed or why marriages fail, but rather, these are stories about the underpinnings of society—
Kasper: The basic premise about how people get along with each other, or fail to. How we raise the children. What values we teach. What values we share as groups of people who come together in entities you can call families or entities you call communities. But I think the root of what we call human interest concerns and stories is in the coverage that people like yourself and Vivian Castleberry did when you all were covering these issues. And not just even in the early seventies, but even back in the sixties as well.
Jurney: Oh, yes.
Kasper: I mean, you preceded in many ways the beginnings of the second wave of the women's movement with some of the issues that you covered back then.
Jurney: Oh, definitely.
Kasper: And only went further and further as time went on with a magnitude of the kinds of stories that I think is misleadingly called family relations or family issues. These are not—these are human issues.
Jurney: Yeah. They're social issues applying—
Kasper: Social issues.
Jurney: —applying to men and women and—
Jurney: —the entities, various entities.
Kasper: And it just happens that we apply the label, family issues—
Kasper: —and that's not so much misleading as it is misused. It's seen in a narrow tunnel vision kind of a way which is not at all what it means to those of us who know better, especially people like yourself and Vivian Castleberry and Marie Anderson, too, for that matter.
Jurney: Oh, definitely.
Kasper: Because her coverage of her roots in the community is very much oriented towards what we call "family issues."
Jurney: Yes. And many of these things were rooted in the economics of society, too.
Kasper: Absolutely. I mean it cuts across all of the issues, all of the social issues of employment and unemployment, economic issues, educational issues, all the social issues of our time.
Jurney: And I guess another thing that I ought to mention here was the rise of the women's movement and people like Gloria Steinem, the woman who worked on Ms. Magazine with Gloria—
Kasper: Pat Carbine?
Jurney: Pat Carbine—but particularly Gloria—got on their soapboxes and said that women's news should not be confined to a women's section. It should be throughout the newspaper. Well, that's the ideal situation, but what happened—and Marj Paxson. I've heard Marj talk on this subject too, and we talked some at IWY [International Women's Year] gatherings about it, and I remember Marj standing up and saying, "Well, what happened was, the women's editors lost their jobs and men came in who knew nothing about this community involvement of women and women's basic interest in social issues." But, by this time, women are out of the picture as heading up the departments. The sections no longer had a cohesion—a cohesive base. And very few stories which dealt with women and the women's movement or women politicians appeared in the general sections of the newspaper. It just disappeared.
Kasper: So you took great exception to Gloria Steinem's and Pat Carbine's—
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: —feelings about the women's news being throughout the newspaper which, in general, is a good idea. But—
Jurney: It doesn't—
Kasper: —she didn't know journalism.
Jurney: It didn't work.
Kasper: And she didn't realize that what would happen was not that women's news would get spread wide and far within the boundaries of the newspaper, but rather it would be diminished.
Jurney: It was greatly diminished. And the newspaper men were not smart enough to—they didn't understand, really, what was happening in the better sections that covered women's news more thoroughly, or so-called women's news, social issue news. They didn't see to it that it got into the news sections of the paper. The news side was so busy covering, as I said, government, politics, fires, accidents, and robberies and so forth, and there was—they did have, I remember, the first time I came across a reporter of scientific things, I think, was on the Detroit Free Press. It was a woman who covered science.
Kasper: Oh, is that right. Do you remember her name by any chance?
Jurney: No, I don't remember it.
Kasper: You know, one of the things that Vivian Castleberry said to me was that, and maybe this is in some way a rebuttal to what Gloria Steinem had in mind, was she never objected, in fact was very happy, when the city side would pick up stories that she had covered in the women's pages. She said, not only was she glad that women's news had made it to other sections of the newspaper, but she said, she always told her staff that when that happened, it freed them up to go on to new and other stories.
Jurney: That's good. I didn't think of that one. Very good.
Kasper: And, in some ways, that really is what I think—
Jurney: It should have worked out. The way it should have—
Kasper: The way it should have worked out. Exactly. Exactly. In other words, had the women's pages stayed intact, been run by people like yourself and Vivian Castleberry, and trained more and more women like yourself to follow, and became stronger and stronger sections, many of their pieces would have gone on to city side and other sections of the newspaper.
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: And would have eventually flowed throughout the newspaper and at the same time strengthened the core of the women's pages themselves.
Jurney: I recall that in Detroit we used to exchange stories and went to the news meeting every day and you said what you had coming up and city side did too. And sometimes we had more space to deal with the story than the news section did, and so I would get that story for our section. And the reporters liked this because their stories could run more in depth, and in length, than it would on the news side. And some of our stories did indeed go to the news side of the paper. We talked during the day. I always talked with the city editor or an assistant city editor to make sure they weren't covering something that we had in mind doing. And if they were, they would say, "Well, you take it. We don't have anybody to do it now." We had a good working arrangement and I don't think there was any jealousy.
Kasper: That's the ideal kind of newspaper setting.
Jurney: Yeah. Yeah.
Kasper: Because both sides are happy to work together.
Jurney: We had half a page to begin our section—there was always an eight-column ad at the bottom of the page so that we had good display. And I don't really recall that the city news side had a cover page on which—I think they were more likely to be on page three. The national and most important local stories were on page one, and page three was the local page. But we had that display. Both in Miami and in Detroit, we had strong advertising support, particularly in Miami, so that we had a lot of room.
Kasper: Let's back up to where we left off when you were in Miami, when you left the News and went to the Herald. Now, could you kind of go over the—we knew that you were bored with the society news.
Jurney: Yeah. And I went to Hoke Welch and asked for a change into the newsroom and Hoke said he would see what he could do about it. And a day or two later he called me to his office and said, "Well, Dorothy, I have tried, but Dan Mahoney has pointed out that Martha Lummus' husband is the county assessor, and for that reason, I cannot move you."
Kasper: Why was because he was the county assessor, why couldn't you—I don't understand.
Jurney: He would have raised the assessment on the—they were fearful that he would—
Kasper: That he would raise the assessment on the paper?
Jurney: On the Miami News. Because Martha—
Kasper: Oh, lord.
Jurney: Well, that's the way things worked in Miami in those days. It was not idle talk. It probably would have happened. So I said, "Well, Mr. Welch, I cannot stay here and I will have to leave today." My father had always taught me that if you quit a job you should do it in a way that you could return to that job. Well, I knew I was quitting and couldn't return to the Miami News. But I was so upset over what had happened, and that kind of an answer, in particular, that I did. And I went around and said goodbye to people. And started crying. And left. And I was home within an hour. And I called up my friend, Charlie Ward, who was a friend of Frank Jurney and me, and his wife, Alice Ward, who's still living in Florida, and along with Marie and her mother, we all played poker together—wild poker—we invented games. So I called Charlie and told him that I had quit at the Miami News and he said, "Well, get right down here and talk to Lee Hills before Lee Hills hears the story from Hoke Welch." So I dried my tears and went down and talked to Lee. And Lee, as always, was close-mouthed and listened attentively, and made notes, of course, he always made notes in shorthand. And said, "I will get back in touch with you," and asked for people who could tell about what I had done—what do we call it? Write recommendations. The word escapes me.
Kasper: Letters of referral. You mean that kind of thing?
Jurney: References. Asked for references. And one of those that I gave was Chuck Stevenson who had been the city editor of the Washington D.C. News and Chuck had moved on up and became the managing editor shortly before I left. Well, I suppose, maybe six months, nine months, something like that. But, I had worked closely with Chuck and Chuck was a very astute editor and Chuck gave me, and sent me a copy of the reference that he wrote to Lee Hills. And I was the most marvelous newspaper person that you have ever heard of, according to Chuck Stevenson. [Laughter.] So it was largely on his recommendation, I think, that I was hired at the Miami Herald. But I was a fantastic editor, he said.
Kasper: You also did, you were kind of—aside from being a fantastic editor, which of course we all know you were—
Kasper: But you were also kind of a jack of all trades.
Jurney: Well, that's true.
Kasper: A jacqueline of all trades, pardon me. Because I remember Marie telling me that she learned from you all that she ever knew about composing and layout and all those things. Where did you learn all that?
Jurney: Well, if you worked on a paper of six thousand daily circulation, you had to do all of those things.
Kasper: So that goes back to the Michigan City News?
Jurney: Oh, yes. Um hum.
Kasper: You learned that as well at your father's knee so to speak.
Jurney: Yes. Well, I have always thought it was important for a beginning journalist to try to start on a small town newspaper where you could see the interaction of the mechanical departments, with the circulation department, with advertising, with editorial, with the publisher. Most kids want to go into a big newspaper, and many of them do, but they don't know how it all meshes together.
Kasper: Marie said that if you had not been there, she would never have known how all those words get fit into that space.
Kasper: That you could sit there and you could write all the copy you wanted 'til you were blue in the face, but somebody had to put it physically into the newspaper.
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: And she said that was one of the many things that you taught her. So you did that at the Miami News as well as at the Herald did you?
Jurney: Yes. Yes. Marie and I were— Marie came to work at the Miami News at my second stint there. Then, when I went to the Herald, about a month after I left the News—it took Lee Hills that long to make up his mind about me, I guess, to check me out, and also I had gone over to St. Petersburg to visit my mother for a little while. I realized early on that I needed a strong right-hand person, and Marie was so loyal to whoever she was working for that she didn't think she should quit. And Lee Hills, I guess, had a somewhat tenuous agreement with Hoke Welch that they wouldn't hire back and forth—the staff. The Herald wouldn't reach in and take a News person, etcetera. So that I had to convince Marie to quit the Miami News before we could offer her a job on the Herald. However, she knew she was going to be offered a job and after a week or two she did indeed quit and came to work for the Herald.
Kasper: Tell me a little bit about your duties, what you did at the Herald. Not just your duties, but your perspective as well.
Jurney: Okay. I made a mistake there because my first job at the Herald was on the universal copy desk reading both local news and wire copy. And I worked on the rim.
Kasper: The rim?
Kasper: What's that?
Jurney: Well, in those days when we didn't have personal computers, we sat at a horseshoe shaped desk and the outer part of the horseshoe was called the rim. And the copy editor, copy chief, sat in the slot, you see.
Kasper: And that was the hole in the horseshoe?
Jurney: Yes. The hole in the horseshoe. And so there would be five or six of us on a paper the size of the Miami Herald reading copy on the rim. And you had a copy chief in the slot. Over adjacent to the horseshoe-shaped copy desk was the news editor. This was Charlie Ward who I mentioned earlier. And Charlie was in close contact with the wire copy which came to him, torn off of the machines by the copy boy—or I guess we had copy girls then. And he was judging, and I assume we also had a national editor. We had a state editor who was George Beebe who later became managing editor and executive editor of the Miami Herald and who is retired and lives in Miami. But Charlie dispersed the copy from the national editor—the wire copy—to the desk.
Kasper: And to the fellow in the slot who then gave it to those of you sitting on the rim.
Jurney: Yes. Yes. And the guy in the slot was also laying out the page—deciding that this story should go on page three or sixty-three or whatever. And saying, "Well, I've only got eight inches for that story. Dorothy cut it down."
Kasper: So then you would get the story and your job was to cut it to fit the space.
Jurney: Yes. And also to read for any inaccuracies or grammatical errors or typographical errors. And write the headline. You were assigned a particular number to indicate the headline size.
Kasper: Oh, I see. Oh, that's fascinating.
Jurney: I enjoyed it very much.
Kasper: And you did this all day long.
Jurney: All day long.
Kasper: The stuff would keep coming in—
Jurney: Oh, yes.
Kasper: —and you would keep cutting it and shaping it.
Jurney: Because you had issue after issue. What am I trying to say? Deadline after—
Jurney: Deadline. Yeah. Um hum.
Kasper: So this is what you did when you first went to the Herald, is that correct?
Kasper: For how long?
Jurney: And I did it for about nine months or a year. And then Mary Shuck Smith, who had been the women's editor of the Miami Herald, died. And I guess I had sat in a while for her while she was ill, but Lee had talked to me about taking Mary's job and I remember saying, "Well, Lee, I guess the only way to get ahead in newspapers for a woman is to become the women's [news] editor." And Lee said, "Yes." I resent that now that he was not more forward thinking. But my experience on the Washington D.C. News shaped my thinking, tremendously.
Kasper: In what sense? In expectation?
Jurney: Yeah. I had no hopes of becoming a city editor or a managing editor or any kind of a top editor on those papers after I left the Washington News.
Kasper: And you knew it.
Kasper: So what you're saying is that leaving the Washington News was a turning point for you.
Jurney: Yes. It was—
Kasper: On the one hand you knew that you were a good editor and that you did good journalism and that the work you did was important to newspapers and to its readership, but on the other hand, you also knew that—
Jurney: That I was a woman.
Kasper: —the glass ceiling, as it's called today. That you were a woman and that there was a glass ceiling for you precisely because you were a woman.
Jurney: Yes. So that I had to develop any talent or reaching out for stories within my own section. And Lee Hills was very good about that. We had a large section both daily and Sunday—particularly on Sunday. We had an enormous number of columns to fill. But we had a large staff. We had at least ten reporters and maybe twelve in our department. We also had a large food section on Thursday. We had Jeanne Voltz, who later became the Los Angeles Times food editor and still later became food editor of Woman's Day in New York. She is now retired and remarried and living in North Carolina. A very good newspaper woman—food or otherwise. She's written several cookbooks. But that's when I got Marie Anderson to come over from the News to the Herald.
And the young woman who had been assistant to Mary Shuck Smith was Eleanor Ratelle who lives in Columbus, Ohio, and was a very able, but not really inspired newspaper woman. She was able in making the stories fit the columns, and in writing a good headline and editing copy. But she had expected to follow Mary Smith. And when she didn't she resented me to some extent. She never said anything to me, but I found that working with her was somewhat difficult and I remember saying to Eleanor one day, "Eleanor, you and I have got to work together so we might as well get along." And, that cleared the air—and we did.
And I think I found some resentment in the composing room in a fellow by the name of Chuck. His father was the advertising department head of the Miami Herald and I think Chuck resented me a little bit too and I said about the same thing to him. So, after that, that cleared the air. And I knew enough about the operation of composing rooms in those days when you were working with linotype operators and proofreaders and how the type was corrected, how it was delivered to the pages, how it got into the page form, which was on a turtle.
Kasper: What is the turtle?
Jurney: The turtle is a table-high, heavy metal—like a table—the same size as a page. And the page form went on it. But, you see, the turtle was as high as that table, probably a little bit higher—the table over there. Possibly a little bit higher because that is where the make-up man, the man who was putting the type in the page form, stood on one side and put the type in this eight-columns wide thing and I stood on the other side looking at the type upside down and backwards and saying, "Well, no, I see that that's three sentences too long or three lines too long. Let's cut this out of it." I had galley proofs to work with, but I was also trying to read it upside down and backwards.
Kasper: So the turtle was basically a composing table.
Jurney: Oh, yes. It was the table with big, big casters. And as soon as you got your page form made up and the—the makeup man, he was called, had a small mallet and to make sure that the type was uniformly high, he would hit the type, you see, to get it level, and then he would roll it over to the place where the stereotypers then slid this tightened page form—you cranked it up.
Kasper: Right, so that none of the letters would slip.
Jurney: Yeah. You screwed it up. And, of course, every line of type was a separate line. You didn't want to drop any of those out. But then they would slide it over onto another table which had a rolling device over it and they would put what was called a mat—and it was called a stereotype mat—place that on the page, roll the whole thing under this roller which had considerable weight in it and what you got on the other end, then, was the page—every dot of the i and every cross of the t and every line of type was in this stereotype mat. And that then was taken by the stereotyper to a half-moon device next to a molten metal pot and as soon as it was properly placed in this, and there was usually about that much space between the mat and where the molten metal then came into it—flowed into it. And that was what was taken out—that half-cylinder of metal page which always had a piece of metal that had to be shaved off. That was the excess of the metal flow. That was shaved off. It was put on another conveyance, or as I think in the Miami Herald—yes, in the Herald and I guess other papers, it went into sort of a dumbwaiter and went down to the press room. And that was put on the press in its proper place.
Kasper: So all this took place in the composing room.
Kasper: This is where whatever copy you had in hand was literally, physically put together.
Jurney: Yes. That's right.
Kasper: All these—from the turtle on down to this molten metal that formed the final mat.
Jurney: The plate.
Kasper: The plate. The mat first—
Jurney: First it was a mat, and then it became a plate, because you could bend the mat.
Kasper: Right. It was a plate once the metal was hardened in it.
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: Okay. I think I understand. I'm having trouble envisioning it, but I think I understand it.
Jurney: Of course, newspapers are not put together that way any more at all. And before I left the papers, we were beginning to print—and that happened in Miami while I was on the Miami News. The paste-up of paper. Not hot metal, we called it cold type.
Kasper: Now what is paste-up and cold type? Tell me about that.
Jurney: Well, the procedure I have just described to you was a hot metal operation. It was hot metal in the linotype machines. They all had their little pots of metal and when the linotype operator pulled a lever that brought this hot metal across the matrix. And you see matrix was used for the—do you know Women In Communications has a matrix insignia? We used to be called Theta Sigma Phi. Well, that's beyond this, it has no bearing. But on a linotype, there was this very narrow oblong-shaped thing that probably was about an inch and a half deep and maybe an inch wide—no, it would have been two inches deep and an inch wide. And each one of those had a letter of the alphabet or a plus or a minus or anything else that you use in printing.
Kasper: And that was called a matrix?
Jurney: That was called a matrix. And the linotype operator sat there and pressed the keys that were somewhat equivalent to a typewriter and those matrices would be
assembled to the right of the compositor—the linotype operator would have these right out there—and he could look because the back of the matrix had the impression of the letter in it. And if he only wanted one "a" and he got two, he would reach up and take one out. But when he had the equivalent of a line of type, he could also press a lever which expanded those letters—or expanded the words—so that the metal would flow in between the words to—
Kasper: To be a space.
Jurney: —to justify the type so that you had a type as wide as the column. You couldn't have a shorter piece of type. It had to be that wide. And it was adjusted. The linotype machine was a miraculous machine. He also pulled the lever, you see, that put the hot metal in across that.
Kasper: And later they went to cold metal and—
Jurney: Well, while I was still working on the Miami News just before I left—so you tell me that was what? '46?
Jurney: There was a strike. Both on the Miami—
Kasper: Well, actually I think it was '49 when you finally left and went to the Herald.
Jurney: Okay. Then it was '49—because '46 does indeed seem too early.
Kasper: '46 was the time you went back for the second time around. So you stayed from '46 to '49.
Jurney: All right. The strike I think started on the Herald. Jimmy Knight, who is still alive and was one of the two Knight brothers who owned the paper, said, "We will throw out all of the advertisements in the Miami Herald and we will print only the classified ads. And all of the rest of the paper, all of the rest of the newsprint that we can obtain, we will devote to covering city and national affairs." And they used whatever strikebreakers they could get. Now, I'm still working for the Miami News. The News decided to take advertising. They didn't have as much—they didn't have the kind of space that the Herald made available for news, but instead of using strikebreakers—well, I guess they used a form of strikebreaker—they went into what was just being developed and was called cold type. Now I have told you about hot type. Cold type was where you had a battery of—like typists, and I'm not sure what kind of a machine they used, but they set—it was before personal computers, but it was an early stage of that, I believe. They set the news stories. The news stories that we developed went to these typists who took the place of the linotype operators. They did not sit in the composing room. I don't remember where they sat in the Miami News. I remember in the Detroit Free Press. But this was on the Miami News, we were breaking the strike. And we got narrow ribbons of paper with the stories on it.
Kasper: You were breaking the strike of the composing people?
Kasper: Because they were on strike and the newspaper still had to get out.
Kasper: And so what you did was, you changed technologies on them, basically.
Kasper: Instead of needing their expertise in hot type, what you started to do was to set cold type.
Jurney: Yes. Now, I'm saying we got strips of type on paper, but I think somewhere, somebody else cut those or maybe the typists themselves—
they must have—set their—let's call it typewriter copy—in column width and we got those on long sheets of paper that had some sticky quality to the back of it. And we could pick those up. And we worked with a miniature page dummy. Usually in those days, and I suppose still now, you dummied a page which was probably a legal size. I'm looking at your book here. And you knew that this was going to be the logo, and there you were going to have an eight-column headline.
Kasper: And a dummy means it wasn't what was going to be seen in the newspaper that evening.
Jurney: Yes it was. Yes.
Kasper: It was. It was the copy itself.
Jurney: But it was miniature. It was miniature.
Kasper: But it was in small size. I see.
Jurney: Yes. You communicated with the composing room by saying I want fire in column one and you would mark fire. And you would designate the headline.
Kasper: On your dummy.
Jurney: And you would cut it off at say halfway or two thirds of the way down and you would dummy in, "politics," or whatever slug you had given a second story.
Jurney: Slug. It was the title that you gave to stories. And always when the story was set, it would be slugged fire, politics—
Kasper: —politics, foreign affairs. It was its category.
Jurney: The slug was more refined than a category. It was like Bush or Carter or—you picked out the most salient feature and—
Kasper: So it wasn't just that it was politics. It was a column on politics that had to do with President Bush.
Kasper: And you knew that when you called out the slug, you knew what article you were referring to.
Jurney: Yes. And also your headline bore the slug, too. And actually, you see, it appeared in a piece of hot metal which was called a slug.
Kasper: So it was a way of tracing and tracking.
Jurney: It was communicating. All right. So we got our—
Kasper: Now let me ask you a question here, before the tape comes to an end. How many women in the time that we're talking about in the—well, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties—this time period—knew as much as you did about the composing end of things? I mean this is the technical wizardry, if you will, of newspaper production. Were there many women like you who knew as much as you did?
Jurney: Yes. In women's sections, particularly on large papers, there were women who did this. I didn't happen to know any of them except by reputation. And I know the one at the Miami Herald was called Arletta something-or-other. I think Arletta was a superb mechanic. I don't think Arletta had the imagination—or, let me put it this way—the experience to have generated the imagination that was generated in me because of my background and my life experiences. Arletta Weimer, I think her name was, I'm sure she's dead. Yes, she inherited some terrible lead poisoning from having worked in the composing room.
Kasper: But was she a journalist as well or was she a compositor?
Jurney: I don't know whether she had been a reporter or an editor or not.
Kasper: Well, then let me rephrase the question. Were there women like yourself, who were either reporters, or editors, or writers on a newspaper who also knew as much as you did about the technical aspect of journalism?
Jurney: I guess I have to answer that, Anne, by saying that we had very little communication newspaper-to-newspaper. And it was not until through the Knight-Ridder organization and through Derick Daniels, as a matter of fact, that I became a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and I learned that all of these men that I had been working for and thought were so smart got many of their ideas by going to conventions of the ASNE. And women did not have this opportunity. Now one of the ways that women got together was when the J.C. Penney Company established its working relationship with the University of Missouri School of Journalism. And once a year it conducted contests for the best women's section.
Kasper: Right. When did that start, do you know?
Jurney: I think about 1960 because—or '59, I think. There's something I've got around the house that will tell me what year I won a prize. Late fifties because—when did I become women's editor of the Herald, does it say?
Kasper: I don't know when you actually—I think it was '49 to '59 that you were women's editor at the Miami Herald. Now I don't know what year you were appointed.
Jurney: 'Cause I think Mary Shuck Smith went to one of these things in Missouri before I did. And, I would say that probably—when did I leave the News?
Kasper: You left the Miami News?
Kasper: In '49.
Jurney: Okay. I did not become women's editor until 1950. So I was on the desk first at the Herald. By 1950, I think, one of these meetings had been held.
Kasper: The J.C. Penney/University of Missouri meetings.
Jurney: Yes. And I say that because I think Mary Shuck Smith went to it. [Dorothy Jurney later added: Mary Shuck Smith attended an early women's editor seminar at API, American Press Institute.] But I think I was one of the early winners, and I believe my little medallion is about 1959.
Kasper: So what you're saying is that while women were journalists and were working hard in training themselves and being trained on newspapers just by virtue of experience, what they didn't have was the camaraderie and the collegial atmosphere that men had been having all along which—
Jurney: Yes. Editorial writers had it. There was an association—the National Association of Editorial Writers. I think the photographers had an association. Sunday editors had an association. But there was no—
Kasper: Nothing for women editors.
Jurney: That's right. So we didn't know each other or know the experiences or could share our experiences.
Kasper: Now, in 1959, the American Press Institute held a conference at Columbia University for all of you as women's editors.
Kasper: And this was the first time, wasn't it that you all—
Jurney: Yes. This was early on.
Kasper: That you all got together. And this didn't happen again in this same way, did it? It happened that one time when there were more than, what, a dozen or two of you who were there?
Jurney: They had a series of seminars for women's editors. I may be wrong. But I spoke nine or ten or twelve times at the API.
Kasper: You did.
Jurney: Not only just to women, but I remember speaking to a group of Latin American editors, all male, talking about what I did in the women's section.
Kasper: Yeah. But what I'm wondering is whether that first meeting in 1959—
Jurney: It was quite a revelation.
Kasper: It was.
Kasper: And maybe we ought to stop there since we have not much time. Well, we've got a few minutes. Why don't you tell me something about that meeting—what you remember of it.
Jurney: And when I just said that Mary Shuck Smith went to the University of Missouri/J.C. Penney contest, I may be confusing it with an API meeting. Those things are running together in my memory. The API was much more influential, and it was much more formal, than the J.C. Penney/Missouri Contest. They were both good in their own ways, but the API, if I recall correctly, was a two-weeks affair.
Kasper: Well, I was just going to say, the difference, as I understand it, and tell me if I'm wrong, is the API was a series of seminars, lectures, gatherings, it's an exchange of information and technique and style and substance and even management issues.
Jurney: Oh, yes.
Kasper: Between women who were women's editors. Whereas, the J.C. Penney/University of Missouri Awards that were established whenever it was, in the early sixties, was literally a contest where you submitted your best articles for the year. You didn't know what was going to happen and you didn't participate in the selection and so forth. They went to a group of people at the university who then went through and read all of these articles and then eventually selected Dorothy Jurney's department, or Marie Anderson's department, for awards for that year for excellence in journalism.
Jurney: Yes. It was—
Kasper: Isn't that the difference?
Jurney: It was more a selection based on content. And I think it continues that way. Early on it was confined to women's sections. It's branched out some now. The API was indeed a true seminar in which we did have lectures by people in different areas of the newspaper and I particularly remember hearing a man who made quite a reputation for himself and is probably still around, and I don't remember his name, but he talked about makeup and layout—design—newspaper design. That was the first time I had ever heard about newspaper design. You know, intellectual discussion of how readers respond to certain size headlines, to one-column head, to a three-column head and that kind of thing.
Kasper: So with all that you knew about composing and the technical side of it, what you had never heard about was the effect of that on the reader. Is that correct?
Jurney: Yes. Yes.
Kasper: Because Vivian Castleberry, I remember, said to me that she too was—well, in this case, she was somewhat dismayed because there was some discussion of how she had—
[End Tape 2, Side B; Begin Tape 3, Side A]
Jurney: —the women's editors. We would be assigned to a small group to study and critique other women's sections and that was a very valuable tool and somewhat difficult because I wasn't used to such close criticism. I think that maybe that's what Vivian encountered.
Kasper: I think very much so. I think it just points up what you were saying which is that you had all worked alone.
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: On your own separate papers. And you'd never had both the benefits of collegial exchange—
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: —nor the criticism that comes from that kind of collegial exchange.
Jurney: Yes. We didn't have anybody to say, "Dorothy, I think it would have been better if you'd done it this way." Or, "Did you ever think of that." Lee Hills on the Herald was very good at that, but he had a whole newspaper to take care of. And he was—and most male editors were happy to leave the women's sections alone as long as they weren't making horrible mistakes and the advertisers were happy. So we didn't really learn a great deal. But the API under Montgomery Curtis, who did indeed call women's editors together for the first time—I think there had been probably several years of meetings of city editors and managing editors and circulation department heads and that sort of thing—but he finally did indeed get women's editors together.
Kasper: Now do you ever remember this happening again? Women's editors getting together at API?
Jurney: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Because I spoke to any number of them. And I think I may even have slides of—I know I have slides of the Miami Herald and/or the Detroit Free Press that I showed when I talked to women's editors.
Kasper: At the API.
Jurney: Yes. Um hum. In New York.
Kasper: Do you remember whether it happened several times?
Jurney: Several times.
Kasper: Several times over the next decade or whatever?
Jurney: Yes, because I—I'm under the impression that I appeared anywhere from ten to twelve times at the API.
Kasper: And they were always gatherings of women's editors?
Jurney: Mostly. Out of twelve, I would say there were probably eleven that were women's editors.
Kasper: Because I know that people—let's see there was Marie Anderson, Vivian Castleberry. There were people like Gloria Biggs, Maggie Savoy, Jean Otto, Marj Paxson. Do you remember, were there others who were there?
Jurney: Clifton Daniels, who married Margaret Truman, was at one seminar that I talked to. [Dorothy Jurney later recalled: So was James Hoge, now president of the New York Daily News.]
Kasper: Well, I mean women's editors, in particular, who had attended the API.
Jurney: I think Clifton was editing the so-called sections of the New York Times when he was there.
Kasper: So he was in charge of the women's pages of the New York Times then?
Jurney: Yeah. That's right. That was before he married Margaret Truman. Because I thought he was pretty good. And I remember I was working for the Free Press at the time and I remember telling Derick Daniels about Clifton Daniels and especially Jim Hoge. Yes.
Kasper: Do you remember any other women that I may—I don't know who else I may have left out?
Jurney: Well, you see, somebody like Vivian Castleberry—I don't know whether Vivian was ever invited to speak, so that she would have been there only for one session. But there was at least an annual session for women's editors for ten, twelve, fifteen years. And some of us were invited to speak more than once. And you mentioned several. I don't think Marj Paxson ever spoke, although she might have. Who else did you mention?
Kasper: Maggie Savoy, Gloria Biggs.
Jurney: Gloria Biggs spoke frequently at API sessions.
Kasper: Do you remember some of the things that you spoke about in the several times that you did speak at the API?
Jurney: Oh, well I told what we did on the Miami Herald or the Detroit Free Press. Largely for content.
Kasper: So, in other words, what articles you wrote—what feature articles were written or what news was being covered and how.
Jurney: Yes. And I had slides [with] which I showed what the story was on.
Kasper: So they were the actual pages themselves on lantern slides that you would put on the screen?
Jurney: Yes. That's right. And discuss them and discussed how we did it.
Kasper: And so how each paragraph was constructed and why you reported what you did and the fashion in which it was reported.
Jurney: That's right. The significance of it and how we happened to do this. I'm sure human sensitivity, which I have mentioned before, and I can mention some others, but I think they are more likely to come out when I talk about what we did either on the Herald or the Free Press.
Kasper: Did Jeanne Voltz attend these API meetings, too, do you remember?
Jurney: No. Because she was a food editor and there were indeed, for a number of years, and I think they still have it, conferences for food editors, usually in New York, sometimes New Orleans or California. They got together. They knew what each other was doing. But these were advertising sponsored seminars. They were important to newspapers because of that.
Kasper: When you think back on some of your fellow women editors, are there any women who come to mind whom you learned from? They could be considered mentors to you on how women's pages can cover women's news and beyond?
Jurney: I suppose Colleen Dishon who's the top woman at the Chicago Tribune was more a mentor to me, although she's younger than I, she's still there. I don't know when I first came across Colleen, probably when I was in Detroit, and she had created something called F.A.N.—Features and News—for women. And she syndicated it with her husband handling the business end of it.
And Colleen had been a women's editor probably in Milwaukee or Madison. She had wide-ranging ideas and is an outstanding women's news editor. And we used to buy her service. I used to see Colleen, and still do, at ASNE meetings. She must be near retirement.
Kasper: What, in particular, did you admire about the kinds of news that she covered, do you remember? Was it because it was on the cutting edge, or it was well-written?
Kasper: Or it was challenging?
Jurney: Both. All three things. And sometimes there were story ideas that you could develop for your own community. Early on in Detroit when equal opportunity for women came as a part of the federal law, I probably, through some of Colleen's stories, as well as through the wire services, I came to find out what was happening in opportunities for women for equal pay and that some lawsuits were being instituted. And some of the early lawsuits or threat of lawsuits, at least the filing of them, was done with the backing of the UAW (United Auto Workers) in Detroit for women who did not get promotions—were not getting equal pay.
Kasper: And the UAW was promoting their lawsuits so that they could—
Jurney: I'm not too sure that the UAW—I'm sure that the UAW was supporting the women, and probably telling them how to do it and what attorneys to go to.
Kasper: But not up front.
Jurney: It must not have been up front because I don't think of the UAW in that connection. But knowing Olga Madar and Dorothy Haener and all, I'm sure they were—
Kasper: Coalition of Labor Union Women.
Kasper: Yeah. CLUW. CLUW.
Jurney: CLUW. One of the first stories that we did in the women's section of the Detroit Free Press that related to this was equal opportunity for women professors. We did it at the University of Michigan where a number of the women professors felt that they had been discriminated against in promotion, and certainly in pay, and in—what do you call it when you get on the track?
Jurney: Tenure. And we did—when the early stories came out about federal regulations, after the law was passed, and this applied to universities, I sent a reporter to the University of Michigan to talk to women. And we did a first-time story on it. And two or three days later I thought it should be followed up. The reporter didn't get a very good follow-up, but we used the story, and we were criticized by Kurt Luedtke, who is now a movie script writer, and was a managing editor, or executive editor, I guess, of the Detroit Free Press. He asked why are we doing this the second time, you see. Well, on the news side you had follow-up stories. I must say, our follow-up wasn't as good or as strong as it should have been, but we were entitled to a second-day story.
Kasper: And you were saying, we started off by talking about F.A.N. and Colleen Dishon and you're saying that you felt that some of the kinds of things that she covered in that Features and News for women were the stimulus for you to continue to do that—
Jurney: That's right. Um hum.
Kasper: —kind of coverage of, let's face it, cutting edge issues for women.
Kasper: That you might have gotten your hand slapped for and indeed, you're saying, that you did.
Kasper: That Kurt Luedtke said, you know, "Why are you doing this? Why do we need a follow-up story?"
Kasper: Now, do you remember any cutting edge issues or stories that you followed while you were still in Miami at the Herald.
Jurney: Oh, I think the stories that had to do with activities in the black community were probably our most cutting-edge stories. We started out by writing about black entertainers because I guess they weren't being treated in the news sections or in the entertainment section of the Herald. But we had a very good older woman, Beatrice Washburn, who was like a little old lady in tennis shoes. She was the caricature that would have appeared in a New Yorker cartoon. And she was so unprepossessing and like your grandmother, but an excellent writer and marvelous interviewer. And I remember her going to interview Lena Horne when she sang at the Fontainebleu, I think. Lena, of course, could not stay over there.
Kasper: No, because she was black.
Jurney: She was only there to sing. She had to stay at the black hotel in Miami instead. But I remember Beatrice describing Lena Horne as an almond colored—she used some white singer's name, you see. I may think of it later. But I remember that. I interviewed the man whose daughter is still singing.
Kasper: Cole Porter?
Jurney: No. Cole wasn't black. No, I mean Nat King Cole. He was staying at the black hotel in Miami and I called him up and said I would like to talk with him, but I said, "You know it's going to be difficult for me to go to your hotel. Could you"—this was a Sunday afternoon—"Could you possibly come down to the Herald women's department." And he did. And I talked to him down there.
Kasper: So what you're saying is that your articles on black entertainers, since they sort of didn't know where to put these articles on entertainers—
Jurney: Yes. And as long they were a feature story and they were about a celebrity, there was no criticism of them.
Kasper: But it was your entree.
Jurney: Yes. Then we began to find out what was being done, largely by a white woman in the black section of Coconut Grove, who was trying to improve conditions for the blacks there. [Coconut Grove was] the south part of Miami. And sort of an artists' colony. And then we learned about the black bishop and what he was trying to do in housing and other ways so we could write about that. It was not appearing in the news section. There were some women, black women teachers—
Kasper: You would profile what they were doing in the schools?
Kasper: So this was kind of the beginning of being on the cutting edge of—
Jurney: Yes. It really was before the Martin Luther King days.
Kasper: So this was probably late fifties, early sixties.
Jurney: Yes. I remember John Knight having a staff meeting, not only of the women's section, but the whole paper. And I remember him saying, "Go slow on racial stories and—" what did we call—the sixties were a time of—
Kasper: Civil rights?
Jurney: Civil rights. "Go slow on the civil rights stories. This will be a long continuing story." I think he was afraid, you know, we were going to turn off white readers. So we did go slowly.
Kasper: White readers and even advertisers, too, wouldn't you?
Jurney: Yes. I'm sure.
Kasper: I mean, after all, Miami is a southern city.
Jurney: Yes. So we did indeed go slow.
Kasper: How did you feel about that? Did you feel that, you know, your hands were being slapped or tied behind your back?
Jurney: I think tied, a little bit. But I had grown up in a time when you called the boss Mister. You didn't call him Lee. You called him Mister Hills. Respect for the boss and his way of doing things. I worked for some men that I thought were not very smart and I resented that very much. But—
Kasper: Resented that they were—
Jurney: Not as smart as I was.
Kasper: Not as smart as you were and yet their authority was greater than yours.
Jurney: Yes. Um hum.
Kasper: And their decision-making power and so forth.
Jurney: And they also didn't always decide things the way I thought they should be decided. But there was no arguing with John Knight. I wouldn't try it. Well, one other story that I have to tell you and I probably have in the past, told you. After John O'Rourke told me that he would like to make me city editor but he couldn't because I was a woman. So then, sometime shortly after I had become women's news editor at the Miami Herald, Cle Althouse, who was the head of the—well, it's called human resources now, I don't know what they called it back then [personnel]—came to talk with me about my ambitions and goals and so forth. And I said, "Well, Cle, my ambition is just to do the best I can every day." And he said, "You don't want to be city editor or you don't want to be managing editor?" I said, "Cle, why should I try? I would be butting my head up against a wall and I'm not going to do that for my own peace of mind." I did not know I was being considered for city editor.
Kasper: Where was this? What paper was this?
Jurney: Miami Herald.
Kasper: At the Miami Herald.
Jurney: And John McMullan, who became city editor, later told me, he said, "Dorothy, you were being considered for city editor at that time. You and I, and Derick Daniels." And he said, "You didn't get it because of the way you answered."
Kasper: So they felt that you didn't have enough ambition—
Jurney: That's right.
Kasper: —to be city editor.
Jurney: My ambition, of course, was so submerged.
Kasper: And yet, these were the very white men who had killed your ambition early on.
Kasper: And now you were paying the double price. You had learned to—submerge, is the word you used—submerge your ambition, now you're paying the ultimate price which was you were taking yourself out of the race unknowingly.
Kasper: And yet, they were the very reason you were taking yourself out of the race.
Jurney: Yes. And I understood that later on when Ed Murray, who lives in Boulder, Colorado now, and has been a very distinguished editor, when he went to work for the Detroit Free Press, Lee Hills pointed me out and told him my name and said, "There's the person who would make a better managing editor than the one we have."
Kasper: Who said that?
Jurney: Lee Hills.
Kasper: To Ed Murray.
Jurney: To Ed Murray.
Kasper: Oh, my.
Jurney: And, of course, I didn't know this until long after I was retired. Well, it's five after five.
Kasper: Well, we can stop here or we can keep going. Let's see.
Jurney: I think I've kind of run down.
Kasper: Oh, I understand that.
© 1990, Washington Press Club Foundation.
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