[Begin Tape 1, Side A]
Ritchie: We always start with your very early years, your background and how it prepared you for your career in journalism. So maybe you could tell me about your parents, your mother and father.
Ludtke: When I was born, my parents were both in school at that point, both of them in graduate school, my father finishing up his Ph.D. in finance, and applying for jobs, so I'm told, or had just gone through the process of applying for jobs. My mother was finishing up a master's degree, both at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Ritchie: Were they originally from Iowa?
Ludtke: No. Actually, my father is. My father's from Waterloo, Iowa, and had grown up there. He always tells us about the Depression days and what it was like for their whole family, not only their nuclear family, but their whole family, you know, to live in those times when the meat-packing company was closing. He has endless numbers of stories about his life growing up in the Midwest. He was from Waterloo.
My mother grew up in Milton, Massachusetts, and lived a very different childhood than my father did, went to essentially private schools, went on to go to Wellesley College. At that point, my father was in the navy, serving somewhere in the Pacific. They met when he was stationed at the Boston Navy Yard, and he came in on a boat, and they met, got engaged, got married.
Ritchie: And moved to Iowa.
Ludtke: At a certain point, and I'm not exactly sure when, they went to Iowa so that my father could finish his education. My mother, of course, went on and pursued hers at the same time.
I was the first of five children, but they didn't start having children right away. It was a bit unusual. They were both twenty-seven when they had their first child, which I think back in the fifties was a little late. I was born in 1951. So my father had come back from overseas, met my mother. I think they got married in '47, maybe '48.
Ritchie: Late forties.
Ludtke: Late forties. And, I think, really enjoyed their life together and wanted to finish their schooling and the rest and then start the family. My birth coincided with my father getting his first job. So they made the decision to move back to Massachusetts. He had been appointed a professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. So I'm told that we drove across the country when I was six months old, or a little less, and settled in the faculty apartments in Amherst.
By that time, my mother was pregnant again with what would become my sister. So we began life in western Massachusetts, the daughter of a university professor. He would remain at the university for thirty-seven years. I mean, it would turn out that he would get tenure, that he would be very happy with his situation there, that the town would be a town that my parents were both happy to live in, and was, I think, a wonderful place to grow up.
Ritchie: So the five of you really grew up in Amherst.
Ludtke: The five of us grew up in Amherst with stopovers in just a few places, because every seven years, my father would have a sabbatical. The first sabbatical was spent fairly nearby; we moved to Newton, Massachusetts, and he went to the Sloan School at M.I.T. [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] for a year. So I think the tough thing for that, now that I'm older and realize a lot of these things, would have been my mother transporting five kids at that point to a new household and setting up all the schooling and the rest. But we did it and then returned to Amherst the next year.
The last sabbatical that I had as a child with him, if one can call me a child—I was then a senior in high school—for that one he went overseas to England and was in Oxford, England, at Jesus College there.
Ritchie: Did you go on that one?
Ludtke: I went on that one, but I didn't go to England. My sister and I, who is, obviously since my mother was pregnant very quickly, eleven months younger than I am, because we were considered to be old enough to make a choice, we were given a choice of where we would go to school, and the two of us selected a school in Rome, Italy. So we left home for the first time at the ages, I guess, of sixteen and seventeen.
Ritchie: And went to boarding school?
Ludtke: Went to boarding school in Italy, which was an astonishing experience.
To go back to the earlier times, the five children were sort of born in a period of about ten years. So by the time I was, I guess, in probably third or fourth grade, the family was complete, and there they were. [Laughter.]
Ritchie: How many were girls?
Ludtke: Four girls and then a boy in the middle.
Ritchie: So there were two girls, then the boy.
Ludtke: Then two more girls.
Ritchie: So the little boy was like a little prince, maybe?
Ludtke: I'm not sure he'd feel that way if you asked him the question. I think he might define it more as the tortured one, being sandwiched between girls in a family where, I think, as we go on with the interview, I think really produced young girls and women who were very confident, strong, assertive, perhaps, in terms of what both their ideas are and what their goals are and their
objectives. I think it may have been a little difficult for him to figure out how he defined himself as somewhat different from the girls.
Ritchie: Did you have any other family around? You mentioned your mother was from Milton. So would you have had grandparents around?
Ludtke: As a youngster, I certainly had grandparents, because my parents were themselves older when they had children. My mother, in fact, was the last of four children in her family. I think my grandparents, her parents, who were from Milton, who did come by and see us a lot, and we them, they died when I was probably somewhere in the elementary school years, for my grandfather and my grandmother, I think when I was in seventh grade. So I and my sister, probably more so than the other kids, probably remember them.
Then we also had cousins who lived in Pennsylvania, but each summer we would go to Cape Cod as a family. Again, my mother's family had a house on Cape Cod, that became, within the next generation, kind of a family house. We would split summers, but we would also overlap. So the cousins on that side became very close with each other. In fact, their parents were sent overseas, they worked for the State Department for some time, so my mother became, in essence, a sort of substitute parent for them during much of their childhood.
Ritchie: When they stayed here in the States.
Ludtke: When they stayed and went to boarding schools primarily in the western Mass area. So, yes, we had a fairly close and large [family].
Ritchie: Did you go to public schools?
Ludtke: I went to public schools, except for that last year in Rome, when I went to a private boarding school.
Ritchie: Was that a Catholic boarding school?
Ludtke: No, it was actually started by an Episcopalian priest who had been at the Kent School in Connecticut, so it was Episcopalian, which I am not, but it certainly accepted people of all religious backgrounds.
Ritchie: As you were growing up and going to school, were your parents involved with the schools, with your schoolwork?
Ludtke: Oh, schoolwork, very definitely. I would guess that they were probably involved with schools in the sense that they went to all the teacher-parent conferences. They're not really organization people. They wouldn't be people who would look to run the local PTA [Parent-Teacher Association]. So whether they actually got engaged in that, I don't have a real memory of that. But, no, they were always very aware of what we were doing in school, and very active in kind of helping us to do it.
Ritchie: What types of outside-of-school activities did you do?
Ludtke: When I was most young, I did Brownies and Girl Scouts, that kind of thing. I did a whole range of lessons, starting with ballet and tap. All of these began to kind of just fade
away—piano lessons, flute lessons, horseback riding lessons, skating lessons. A lot of lessons. There are probably others that I could think of.
As I went into the middle school years and high school years, I got very interested in the drama at the high school, so I used to get very involved in doing plays and musicals and that kind of thing. I always thought that I wanted to be able to sing or I wanted to be able to act, none of which I could do. So I would end up a lot of times being the assistant to the director or producer, but that kind of engaged me.
Then on the other side of it, I did a lot of sports. I was always very active in sports, whether they were organized sports like team sports. I can remember in junior high, I was a cheerleader, of course, because that's what you wanted to be when you were in junior high. That was where all the action was.
Ritchie: That's fun.
Ludtke: And it also seemed in those middle school years that's that what you should do if you wanted to kind of be part of the crowd.
Ritchie: The thing that the girls did.
Ludtke: The thing that the girls did. So I became a cheerleader. I made the cheerleading squad in seventh grade, which seemed to be a major accomplishment at that time. But I also played basketball, so I was both cheering the guys, but I was also playing on my own team sport. Of course, no one came to see our games. We played sort of in the half-gym, no seats. [Laughter.] Three dribbles and pass the ball and stationary forwards and all the rest. But, you know, nevertheless, I was doing both those things. Through high school, I then would do a sport probably every semester. I'd do volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, and tennis in the spring. That was sort of the routine that began to put itself in place.
Ritchie: Were your sisters and your brother also as involved in different activities?
Ludtke: Yes. My sister Leslie, who's the one who's eleven months younger than I, was always better than I was in most of these sports, and incredibly active in them. For instance, where I would be on the second squad of the volleyball [team], she would always be on the first. I don't know that she played basketball, so I was, by elimination, better than she in that. But there was a sense of competitiveness. She was always a better tennis player, so she was always ranked above me in that. And also during the summers, on the Cape, which was a very big part of my life, what I did better was I was a sailor. I loved to sail. I learned how to sail early, and I did well, sailing. There were very few "girls" who kind of skippered the boats. Girls crewed a lot, but they didn't often skipper.
Ritchie: What does skipper mean?
Ludtke: That's the one who runs the show. That's the one who steers the boat. That's the one who makes the decisions, all the rest. So I would often skipper, and Leslie would often crew for me, not always to her liking, but that's sort of how it worked out. I ended up being selected for a Mighty Might's crew, which is representing the yacht club somewhere else, against other yacht clubs. So that was kind of an area where I excelled. Then there was tennis. Later on I learned to play golf. So it was a whole range of sports.
Ritchie: What about in the classroom? Were you better than Leslie?
Ludtke: No, no. She was always a better student. She read much more than I did. She was much more, I think, probably just smarter than I am, generally speaking. What I am much more than she is, is perhaps a people person. I'm much more wanting to fit a whole range of things in, and she can be much more focused. She's much less interested in having to fit all the people in; she just kind of goes ahead and does what she can be good at.
Ritchie: Is Leslie the sister that's staying with you now?
Ludtke: No. In terms of filling out the sports part of it so it is all in one clump, and then I'll come back to the one who's with me now—Mark, my brother, would have loved to participate in sports, and clearly had an aptitude for it when he was very young. But in his teenage years, he was very, very sick, and we didn't know for a very long time what it was. There seemed to be no diagnosis. As it turned out, by the time he was sixteen, very small, with almost a bloated belly, it was finally learned that he had ileitis, which is a very rare disease among children, but a chronic disease in which your intestine is blocked and you just can't get food through. In fact, Dwight Eisenhower had it when he was in his seventies—we sit in this apartment that he [Eisenhower] once occupied.
So Mark was really unable to compete, certainly could not, was not allowed to compete in contact sports, but what he did, what my father did with him, was tried to get him involved and do things with him that were not contact sports. I remember he would take him bowling all the time. It was just something he could do. He learned to play golf during those years, and he's an extraordinarily good golfer. I mean, he's just very, very good. So sports were very important, and I think my parents recognized that despite the fact that he was ill, it was very important for him to do those things. He got the operation he needed when I think he was sixteen, shot up about eight inches in a year, put on the weight, the rest. He's had a succession of operations since, because the disease is chronic and returns and has to be monitored. But he's now thirty-five, monitored every week with blood tests and steroids and the rest, but very active and, again, consumed by golf, just loves golf.
Then the younger two sisters, again extraordinarily gifted as athletes, and they sort of took their gifts towards a different direction than the older two sisters had, and I think that's because it was something that was opened up for them, that hadn't been available to us, and that was gymnastics. They began doing gymnastics very, very early on, first through private lessons and then in school there was a gymnastics team by the time they got there. So they did a lot of competition in gymnastics and were just extraordinary. They could do the unevens and the parallel bars and the splits and the floor routines. One of my sisters, the youngest, is, in fact, now a very high-ranking judge of gymnastics in California, which she does in her spare time, and has gotten a considerably high rating in that, so she's maintained a real interest in gymnastics, if not performing and doing it.
The sister that you're referring to, who is here now, is Betty. I can kind of catch up with her.
Ritchie: So she's number four?
Ludtke: She's number four. She has spent the last twelve years, up until this past May, in the air force. Her rank was as a captain, and she was at the Pentagon working in environmental impact of base closures, but she'd done a lot of other things for them. She has training as an architect
and went into the air force wanting to become a pilot, and despite applying six times to become a pilot, never was accepted into the program by the time her age requirement gave out. That's been perhaps the biggest disappointment in her life, is not having that happen. But while she was trying to do it on that level, she also began to train herself as a civilian pilot.
Ritchie: Through flight lessons?
Ludtke: Through flight lessons and through putting in the hours and renting the planes. It's been a huge commitment on her part to something she very much wants to do. She'd like to be a pilot for a commercial airline. So she's kind of on a dual track. At the same time she's taking her architecture boards, which she never did because she went into the air force, at that point. She's finishing up those, and she's also now reached the level where she has the flight instructor level, the first level on that. My understanding is there are three levels. She wants to get to level three of flight instructing so that she can begin to pay her way to do that. So that's what she's involved in.
Ritchie: It sounds like your house was a busy one, with five children coming and going.
Ludtke: Yes, I think probably you could say it was.
Ritchie: Did your mother ever work outside the home?
Ludtke: That's a very difficult question. Did she ever earn money outside the home for work, no. Did she work outside the home, I'd have to say yes, because when her youngest child went into first grade, she went back to school to earn another master's degree in yet a different subject. In Iowa City, my understanding was that it was English that she earned it in, that she'd majored in geology in college, she earned her master's in English, and this time her interest was anthropology. So she went back and at first took the courses necessary to apply into the master's program. This was all done during the hours that the kids were in school. She went to the University of Massachusetts and got her master's degree, wrote her master's thesis, applied to the Ph.D. program, and when my youngest sister graduated from high school, my mother had finished her Ph.D.
Ritchie: Oh, heavens!
Ludtke: So she worked! [Laughter.] But it was working towards a degree, you know, as opposed to a paid job during those years.
Ritchie: So your parents encouraged you in many different areas. Given their background and their education, they were interested in your schooling and your education and obviously your outside activities, too.
Ludtke: Yes. They were devoted to that. They had children and, I think, recognized what responsibilities that entailed for them as parents if they wanted us to have the kind of life that indeed they wanted. You phrasing it the way you did in terms of what they highlighted for us, it was certainly by example that we saw things. I think oftentimes what I've discovered in my reporting about children and families is that we can say what we want—I mean, this generation, to kids—we can say what we want to say to them, but unless there's some evidence or some example of parents engaging themselves in what they tell their kids to engage themselves in, that example is going to be stronger than the words. I think the two have to go together.
But in this case, clearly both their example of being involved in education, one of them teaching, the other one learning, plus their constant involvement in our own schooling. I often wonder how my mother did her schoolwork on top of essentially doing the schoolwork for all five kids, because there wasn't a night that she wasn't kind of rotating between kids, to kind of work with them, and I'd say my father was, as well. He had the luxury, in a sense, of having a job that brought him pretty much at home at five o'clock in the afternoon, so he was there. He was there to ask what we were doing and what we needed help with.
I remember sitting with him as probably even a first, second, or third grader, very much intrigued by him correcting exams. He'd bring home the stack of blue books, and he'd sit down in his chair, in the corner of the living room, and I'd kind of sit on the arm of it, and my sister might be on the other arm or whatever, and instead of shooing us away, he'd kind of let us sit there, and he'd talk about why he was grading someone this way. Of course, we loved to see him with the red pencil, you know, circle the words, because he was a real stickler for spelling and for grammar. That, of course, drove students of his crazy, because students in finance don't expect that a professor is going to care about how you spell something or what your grammar is. But I remember that very much intriguing me, that he was so very specific about the things that he expected and the things that he wanted. So I think, in retrospect, that was probably, as much as anything, a good example to me about at least being aware of those things making a difference.
Ritchie: Had his parents gone to college?
Ludtke: Certainly his mother didn't, and I would doubt very much that his father did.
Ritchie: Did you know those grandparents at all?
Ludtke: I knew them less well. They lived in the Midwest, and we would see them on occasion. Then they retired to both Florida and then to Arkansas, then to Arizona. They kind of were in search of where they wanted to end up. So we would see them sporadically. I think probably his father went straight from high school—his father worked in the post office, if I remember. That was one of the benefits to them during the Depression, because his father had a job, where a lot of people didn't. He worked on the mail trains, I think. So I don't think that his parents did go to college.
On my mother's side, both of her parents had gone to college. Again, for a woman, my grandmother graduated from Wellesley College in 1907, and her husband, my grandfather, graduated from Bowdoin College. So both of them had had college degrees. In fact, all of the daughters in that family went to Wellesley. The three daughters went to Wellesley.
Ritchie: Your mother's family.
Ludtke: My mother's family. Her brother went to Bowdoin. So it was a very traditional family in that sense.
Ritchie: And I understand you followed?
Ludtke: In fact, when I wanted to follow by going to Wellesley College, my mother was very opposed to it. I think, for me, as the oldest daughter in her family, the last thing she wanted to see was me perpetuating this tradition that all girls would go to Wellesley College, because she felt very much that she was forced to, that she had no choice. She was the youngest of three girls, and I don't think there was any choice. She applied to Wellesley, she went to Wellesley, she was driven
out to Wellesley, and deposited there. I think that that had left a very unpleasant feeling. She's someone, I think, who would have liked to rebel against the boundaries into which she—
Ritchie: The way she was brought up?
Ludtke: Yes. In fact, she wrote me a very strong letter of recommendation to go to Bennington College, and that would have been her choice for me. So I think in some way my own little rebellion was to go to Wellesley, which seems rather strange, but yet that was really the dynamic that was going on. My youngest sister, the youngest of the five, ended up also graduating from Wellesley. I think by that time she was accustomed to the fact that we were going to make up our own minds, and Wellesley was a good school, and it was okay, and if we wanted to go there, that was fine. But I think that moment in the late sixties when I was making my decision, she would have been much happier if I hadn't, if I had thought of going somewhere else. And I did. I applied to six or seven other schools and got into, I think, all of them but one, and when I came to decide, it was Wellesley. So that's where I went.
Ritchie: In bringing you up, did your parents have the traditional roles that parents at that time might have had?
Ludtke: You already asked the question about did my mother work outside the home; she didn't. So in a sense, the traditional roles from the point of view of who was earning the money and who was taking care of the kids at home primarily, that was certainly the case. But in terms of the reality of it, if you'd go behind the stereotypic image that that creates, what I had in my father was someone who had perhaps a bit more flexibility in his life than other fathers did.
In fact, my memories of childhood were that I was very different from my friends, particularly as evidenced by my summer circumstance. The summer circumstance of where I lived on the Cape and the friendships that have evolved out of that really in some ways have a more lasting influence on me in many ways than the experience of Amherst. It's a place that my parents now live all year round. It's a place that I've always gone back to, and it's just a place that I just love. So my memories of my childhood are often framed more there than they are—
Ritchie: And your father could take off for the summer?
Ludtke: He tells me now that probably my idea that he was always around during every summer is a little bit far-fetched, because he, frankly, took some jobs during the summer, because you have to make a little extra money, and plus there were times when he wrote a book when I was very young, so that was a rather full-time project. He did summer consulting and some teaching and stuff, but by and large, he was there with me and with my brother and sisters much more than any other father who was part of a family structure down there.
I grew up in a fairly well-off summer community, in which families, by and large, were much more wealthy than my family was. They [the children] went to private schools, most of them, and they had cooks and nannies and all sorts of things. We on some occasions had a babysitter, a local young woman who came down with us. But I was very much apart from their lives. As much as I always tried to fit in, there were very few people who had my experience—public school education, of parents who were in education to begin with, instead of being in business or in politics or in some other field. So I remember weekends for the other kids would be defined by the father arriving sometime Friday night, and that Sunday night, so the kids were expected to be at home by a certain time for dinner Sunday night because it was the last night they were going to see their father, who went off, who either drove or flew away that night or the
next morning. So the streets would just suddenly clear, and I'd kind of be looking around, because Sunday night wasn't that kind of a special night in my house. I mean, my father would be there Monday morning and be there Monday afternoon. So I remember feeling very much apart because of that.
Ritchie: What town on the Cape is this?
Ludtke: In Hyannis Port.
Ritchie: So the summertime was an important time in your family to get away from the routine.
Ludtke: The summertime was just—I guess my point about it is that it gave me a different perspective on my life. It made me feel different from the people who were around me. In some ways that was a very difficult experience, because I think any teenager naturally wants to feel like they are the same as, or that they somehow are "with it," and yet I always felt that I was a bit separated from the others. Part of that experience of separation was that my family, although in its structure was the same, I mean, it wasn't as though I lived with an unmarried mother or divorced parents or whatever, but it was certainly a different dynamic. Although it is a dynamic that I'm delighted that I had, in retrospect, because I think it's been one of those things that's helped give me some of the strength that I have, it's something that at that time seemed sort of awkward.
Ritchie: It wasn't easy?
Ludtke: Yes, it wasn't easy. I can remember thinking, "Why don't I have a father who flies away every Monday and comes back?" And, "Why don't I have a Sunday dinner where this is a very important kind of moment, where the father is having his final meal with the children before he will depart?" I can remember walking down the street, because I would know the houses where this kind of ritual was going on. There was one in particular that had a summer dining room that had glass all around it, it was on the side of the house. I can remember riding my bike or walking by, and seeing this family in there, you know, the four children, the two boys on one side, the two girls on the other, the father at the head, the mother with her back towards the window, and thinking, "This is what it should be."
Ritchie: But your family wasn't like that?
Ludtke: My family was very informal. The fact that we didn't have the imposition of those traditional roles in the sense of the powerful father figure kind of flying in and dashing out, and defining kind of when you did things and when you didn't, ours was much more free-flowing. It never seemed to have that "command performance" feeling to it. He was just there. He was just always around, and he was there to play with on the beach, and he was there to take us golfing, and he was there when I needed a crew to go out and race with me occasionally. I mean, [he was] very much involved.
Ritchie: So he was really part of your life.
Ludtke: Very much involved.
Ritchie: You didn't go off in the summer and he stayed away.
Ludtke: No, no. Very much involved. And during the winter, too, again very involved. That's not to say my mother wasn't. My mother was extremely involved, too, but to take care of five kids, I mean, who range in age that way, plus particularly to have a son who's going through obvious difficulties and needs extraordinary attention and [there is] great concern about, had my father not been very active as part of that, I think, again given hindsight in terms of what I know about raising children these days, not that I've done it, but just observing, it would have been an extraordinary task. It was extraordinary that they did it.
Ritchie: It sounds like they did a remarkable job.
Ludtke: I think so, yes. I think they did. If I were to become a parent, I think inevitably they would be models for me, but I wouldn't be unhappy that they would become models.
Ritchie: Do you think they expected the girls to grow up and do traditional "girl" things, or did they encourage you to do some things that at the time might have been nontraditional for girls? Certainly your participation in the sports—
Ludtke: You see, it wasn't just participation. That's, I think, where it veers off a little bit towards what you're getting at, and that is that because we lived in a university town, there were a lot of sports events that went on. The University of Massachusetts had its football and its basketball and its baseball, all of those. Even though we didn't have a professional team that was nearby, we certainly had those sports events. My father, when we were quite young, began taking us—us, meaning my sister, myself, and my brother, or before my brother was old enough, just my sister and myself—to games. So that, to me, is a sign now, when I look back on it, that there wasn't a difference. Why should he assume that because we're girls, we wouldn't want to go watch a football game? I mean, we did want to go watch it. Eventually we got old enough where we didn't even want our father around; we just wanted to go by ourselves, and we would. We'd just go with some neighborhood kids, go down and watch the game. Or he'd take us to basketball games down in the gymnasium. Then occasionally we'd go into Fenway Park in Boston, go to a baseball game. That, to me, is a pretty clear sign that my parents didn't have this sense that there was some different thing that you do with girls, that you don't do with all the kids.
Later I learned—I don't think I knew this in my childhood—I only later learned that my mother, when she was a teenager, during—let's see, she was born in '24, so I guess it would have been later than teenage years, it would have been college years and the rest. I think in the late thirties, early forties, she had, by listening to the radio, done the box scores of every Red Sox game, and she'd kept a scrapbook in which she had all the box scores plus all the newspaper articles from these games that she had listened to, and it was something that she did with her father a lot. Then occasionally she'd go to games with her father, and those were moments that she really remembered quite vividly and quite fondly.
Then she gave me—and this was after the lawsuit that I found all this out—she gave me these black and white pictures. She used to write away to the Red Sox every year and get their team photos, which at that time weren't any of this kind of commercial stuff that you see today. They were actually beautiful black and white portraits that were maybe a little bigger than five-by-seven, and on each of them, which I still have—I still have the packets of them—
Ritchie: They were individual photos of each player?
Ludtke: They were individual—yes, of each player, and they came in packets. They came in envelopes that said "Boston Red Sox" on them. But the thing that's kind of neat about them is that
I can picture what her room looked like, because I can see on every one of them a tiny little tack hole at the top of the picture, so what she did is, she put them around the top of her room. So here she was surrounded by baseball players, and I can imagine her sitting in her room, looking at all of these faces—this is before television—listening to the play by play and taking down and scoring these games, putting them in her scrapbook and then going on to the next day.
Ritchie: So that was the next best thing to being at the game—having the pictures right here.
Ludtke: Absolutely. She still to this day is a devoted fan of the Red Sox, and will watch every game that they have on TV. In fact, because they don't want to pay for all of the pay television games now that you have to in order to watch games, they turn it on scrambled and listen, and they watch the scrambled signal. So even though I didn't know that in my childhood, she obviously knew it. So that, I think, informed her own way that she might not necessarily say to us, "You will love baseball," but she certainly was going to be very open to the idea of exposing us to this, I mean, remembering her own experience with her father and this baseball time. As a matter of fact, I ought to call her and ask her where those scrapbooks are, because she did tell me that when she dies, I get them. But I looked at them once, and they're just extraordinary. They're beautifully put together.
So while my father was the one who kind of loaded us in the station wagon and went off, and my mother, I think, was grateful to see the kids get out of the house and she chose not to go, it didn't mean that she wasn't interested or that she was against it. I think it was just a moment of sanity, you know, for her in a life full of insanity, with children.
Ritchie: Busy, busy, busy.
Ludtke: Yes. So that is how we spent a lot of weekends. Then in the summers, I can remember, when I was young, playing tennis a lot with my parents. It wasn't that they just sent us to tennis lessons; we'd get a court like at about five in the afternoon, and we'd go play doubles, my sister Leslie, myself, my mother, my father. As Mark got to be older, he would play occasionally. He got to be quite a good tennis player, as well, I should say. So they were, again, active in it. They weren't just sending us off to lessons and saying, "How did you do?" I mean, they were out there. And to this day my father and my brother play golf all the time together. I mean, they are the best kind of partners out there on the course. They love playing with each other. So it's been a very close relationship between sports and the family kind of events.
So by the time I got to Sports Illustrated, I knew nothing about journalism—absolutely nothing—but I had been brought up in a world in which I was very comfortable talking about sports, seeing sports, knowing sports. I certainly didn't have the encyclopedic mind that a male peer might have.
[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]
Ludtke: But I did know enough and I had enough confidence in what I knew about sports to kind of bluff my way through it, which I found was half the ball game, or more than half.
Ritchie: So writing or journalism was not something that interested you in school?
Ludtke: Never. I was not good at it. They had a tracking system. I thought of it as a wonderful thing. You took either level five or level four or level three. I now look at it in terms of social policy; I'm not so sure it's a very good system. But anyway, you always tried to track yourself,
if you were basically intelligent, into the top ones, because you could make more points towards National Honor Society, all those things. So I can remember being in a track five English class, and basically being pulled aside by the English teacher, saying, "I don't think you're up to this. We'll move you over to track four." And it was fine. It was not a major crisis in my life. English was not something I spent a long time thinking about or had great interest in as a course.
Ritchie: What were some of your favorite subjects?
Ludtke: History, probably. I liked history. I liked writing reports on history. I remember spending a lot of time going down to the library at the University of Massachusetts, which I thought was just the greatest thing. As a sixth or seventh grader, walking in and seeing all these college students, who, of course, growing up in a college town, you think the oldest that anyone will ever be is college age. That, to you, is just the epitome of where you want to get to. Your parents are excluded, because you think you'll never be as old as your parents, but college students! So there I was, going through the stacks of books and writing reports on ancient history and U.S. history and whatever. I loved that. In fact, sometimes I wonder why it didn't dawn on me that maybe I should have been an historian, because I did love it.
But I was not a good student, and probably one reason I didn't go to graduate school and I kind of found my way into what I did is because I never thought I was very good academically. I kind of just stumbled and fumbled my way through, and basically could maintain a pretty decent average. I made National Honor Society and I did all those things that you do, but I never did well on the SATs. I just wasn't—and still am not—I don't think, someone who is really good in an academic setting. My own strength is kind of just getting out there and trying to bring together the knowledge that's out there, but to figure out ways that that knowledge can kind of make some action, make some things happen.
My sister Leslie, by the way, who was always the better student, did go on to graduate school, became an attorney, and is now in the attorney general's office in New Hampshire and has her hat in the ring for U.S. Attorney at that state, and she's a gifted lawyer and thinker. She's just very good at that. I could never have done it.
Ritchie: Do you remember any of your teachers that had an influence on you?
Ludtke: Teachers who had an influence on me. I remember some teachers, but not really with the mind to say that those who had an influence on me. I remember my Latin teacher, Betty Jane Donley, but I remember her more because she was sort of an institution kind of a character, than I do in terms of being a great inspiration.
No, I don't think that there were any, except I will say when I got to the school in Rome, where we only had forty people in an entire senior class, and probably 110 people in the entire school, and a faculty that was very young and energetic and wonderful, I had a teacher, Franca Camiz, had graduated from Wellesley College with a major in art history, and she taught art history to high school students. That was an astonishing thing to me, too, that we were even going to study art history. But we did, and being in Italy, it was a subject that just came to life so easily. She was extraordinary. She was a gifted teacher. She made the whole subject just seem so exciting. We took trips all over Italy and saw things. I remember the walking tours that she would take us on at a very frantic pace, and moved through the streets and see these things. Her commentary was extraordinary. She probably is the reason, one reason, that I chose Wellesley, but also probably more to the point, she's the reason I majored in art history, never dawning on me
that I actually ought to think about attaching what I do in college to what I might be doing afterwards.
Ritchie: As a career.
Ludtke: Yes. So I just enjoyed studying art history, and I think a lot of it was just a holdover from that experience in Rome the year before.
Ritchie: That was quite a decision for you and your sister to make, to go to school in Rome.
Ludtke: It never seemed so to us. We had had a cousin, Elizabeth Edwards, my cousin, who was close to us in that group of cousins we'd grown up with in the summers, her mother was Italian, had met her father during World War II, so there were links to Italy. My cousins always grew up bilingual; they could speak both Italian and English. So Italy was not a completely foreign idea to us. She, in fact, had been at that same school a year before. She'd gone there for a postgraduate year. She graduated from high school, went there for a year afterwards. She'd written letters back to us, telling us, "This is an astonishing thing. You ought to do it." So for us it was a very easy decision, because she liked it so much that it seemed pretty obvious that that's where we would go.
Ritchie: Did you miss your family, though?
Ludtke: Oh, I think leaving was traumatic, getting on that plane and going down there, but very quickly it turned into such a remarkable experience. I cried for days at the idea of leaving Amherst, leaving my home town, to even go overseas. I at times was bargaining with my parents to see if I could stay and finish my senior year with all my friends. So that perhaps may have been more traumatic than the actual getting on the plane from England to Rome, once that decision had been made. Thank God they made it that way, and that I went. But the school was so small and so family-like, we lived in hotels, and there were teachers who lived with us, who were always around, and counselors and the rest, so it didn't seem as though we were just kind of put down in Rome and not having people around us, to give us some kind of support.
Ritchie: And then you probably would have seen your family during vacations?
Ludtke: We caught up with them in Austria during the winter vacation. Then in the spring vacation, my sister and I went with a group of kids skiing in St. Moritz, and then I think we went to England for like four days and stayed around the house. I think that was the only time I actually saw Oxford, England, even though they lived there for the whole year. Then on either side of the school experience, we traveled in Europe as a family in a VW bus, you know, five kids, two parents, all the luggage. The first summer before the school year, we did southern Europe or continental Europe, and then the following summer, for about six weeks, we went to the Scandinavian countries and then to Scotland and around. So we really toured.
Ritchie: So you did a lot of things together as a family, both in Amherst and traveling, vacations, everything.
Ludtke: That's right. Then what was billed as sort of the last family vacation came at the end of my senior year of college, where my parents decided that we should all go down the Colorado River together, so we did that. We went down in rowboats, which was kind of neat. Mother could see me graduating from college and my sister out there, she was in Oregon by that time at
Reed [College]. She could kind of see that, and she billed this as the last family vacation. But, yes, we took a lot of them. We did a lot together, that's right.
Ritchie: Did your family attend a church?
Ludtke: When I was younger, they went to the Unitarian Church in Amherst, and my mother taught Sunday school there for a couple of years. They were involved in that when I was younger. I think when there got to be about five kids, they began to lose their momentum for every Sunday, kind of doing the routine. So they don't attend anymore, but when I was younger, we did. I got involved. We had a fairly strong youth group at the church, and I was involved in that.
I was also involved with singing in the choir. You have to understand, I could not sing, but I always thought that I should sing or that I could sing, so I'd always try out for musicals and be in the choir and that kind of thing. Again, one of the marks of their parenthood is that my mother never dissuaded me of the idea that I couldn't sing. She never said to me, "This is preposterous. Why are we driving to get sheet music for you to audition for a musical when you're tone deaf? You can't sing." But she never did that; she just let me go and do it. I'd find a place, they'd put me in some chorus or whatever, and I was perfectly happy. It dawned on me later that, "No, I can't sing, and this is embarrassing that I should even have tried." But I wasn't stopped from doing it.
Ritchie: You really were encouraged to pursue different activities.
Ludtke: Yes, despite embarrassment. Yes. [Laughter.] Despite what she knew would be some embarrassment. I was allowed to proceed, yes.
Ritchie: What about politics? Were your parents ever involved in politics?
Ludtke: Only in a lot of discussion about it around the house. We always would watch the news during dinner as part of our dinner thing, so conversations would come out of watching the news, particularly during the sixties, during the civil rights [movement], during the Vietnam [War], during that era when I was in junior high and high school, and trying to figure out where I was in some of those things. We certainly had opportunities as a family to sit around and talk about those things. So they were never involved actively in politics, although my father always had an interest, I think, in running for some city position or something like that. In fact, I think he may have once, and probably lost. I don't remember them as being politically active, but they certainly weren't inactive or inattentive to it.
Ritchie: So it was something that was discussed around the house.
Ludtke: Yes. It was something that was discussed. We would always ask them who they were voting for and why they were voting for them, and I can remember us disagreeing. And I can remember that they would disagree. My mother certainly didn't feel she had to vote for whom my father was voting for, and my father didn't feel that he had to. They were very independent in their thinking about it, and encouraged us to be.
Ritchie: You mentioned earlier that you applied to a number of colleges. You would have been deciding on these on your own, because you were away that semester.
Ludtke: I was in Italy, yes. Not exactly on my own. Certainly I would write to my parents, and they to me. I had a good guidance counselor at the school, so I wasn't totally on my own. I think
probably over Christmas, I probably had a conversation with my parents about where I might apply. Yes, probably more on my own than it would have been if I'd been in Amherst.
Ritchie: Going to Wellesley, you were nearby home. So did you go home often?
Ludtke: Yes. I had at that time, unfortunately, two boyfriends in Amherst, one from before I left to go to school in Rome, who went to Amherst College, and one who I dated when I was in Rome, who also went to Amherst College, which was a slight problem. But it did bring me back to that region rather frequently during that first year that I was there. Then after I ended up losing both relationships, I wasn't there quite as frequently.
Again, the Cape would be the place where I would see my parents, and they, frankly, began to spend more of their time towards the Cape, because I think my mother by that time began to have a pretty good sense that that's where she wanted to retire. In fact, before my father even retired from teaching, she had moved to the Cape, and he began commuting from the Cape back to Amherst to teach. So the Cape became more of a home in many ways.
So when I left Amherst to go to Rome, that was about the last time I spent a significant amount of time in Amherst, because most of the holidays we would be at the Cape. Christmas, we'd probably stay in Amherst most of the time, but most of the others, yes.
Ritchie: What did you do during the summers in college?
Ludtke: Not a whole lot.
Ritchie: Did you work?
Ludtke: I don't think so. I can't remember working. It's an amazing thing to say that now, because now I work as a mentor with a lot of college students, now that I've been at Radcliffe and around that environment for several years, and I see them all applying to do these incredible things, and I think, "God, what a waste." But at the time, my parents were not of the belief that working was the only kind of experience that you should have, and so I would say I basically hung out. I kind of hung out at the Cape. What I did exactly, I can't even remember. I think I babysat. I think I did sort of au pair work.
The summer before my junior year, I went to school at U. Mass during the summer, because I'd gotten interested in education, so I went to the School of Education and took courses there, because Wellesley didn't have a really strong education department. I figured that I wanted to get some credits towards it. I didn't quite know why at the time, but it turns out that it was a good decision, because my senior year of college—I never seemed to be able to stay in one place for a real long time, and I had the opportunity to move out to San Francisco the summer between my junior and senior year, and work in an art gallery. I thought, "This is a good opportunity because I'll be able to find out whether this art history makes any sense in terms of whether it's something I want to do." This had been a friend of mine at Wellesley who had moved out to San Francisco, and she had sort of arranged this.
So I went out there, and I decided I loved San Francisco, so I decided to stay. I called Wellesley and said, "I won't be coming back for the semester."
Ritchie: This was your senior year?
Ludtke: This was my senior year. So I took courses at Berkeley, night courses, took one in Navajo language. I was thinking at that time of maybe teaching on a Navajo reservation. I took another education course. Then I still liked living in San Francisco as it got to be December, and my sister at that time was in school in Palo Alto; she was at Stanford. So I had a little family out there, and I was liking it. So I called Wellesley again and said, "What would happen if I stayed some more?" But this time I was thinking I would go to Mills College for a semester, because I was already rowing with the Mills College team.
I forgot rowing. Crew, in college, became my sport. I was a member of what became the first intercollegiate crew team at Wellesley. We had always rowed in these big barges that they'd created for the women there, so that you could go out and row and you'd never worry about tipping over. They were sort of designed for Wellesley College. I'd always had this photograph of my grandmother, who had stroked her crew team in 1907 at Wellesley. She was the stroke of the boat. I'd had this picture of her with her hair up in a bun, her Wellesley sweater on with the "W," sitting very rigidly, holding the oar. So my sophomore year there, I started rowing, and it became my passion. At first, all we could row in were the barges that they had. We'd do class races and we'd do dorm races, and I just loved it.
My junior year, one day I went down to the boathouse, and they had this most gorgeous crew shell, I mean, just a regulation crew shell, sleek and just beautiful, that had been donated to the college. I and three other women were chosen, sort of that afternoon, to go out and try it. Our crew coach put us in it, and she acted as the cox. We went out and we rowed, and just sort of feeling, "Are we going to tip over?" We made it back, and it was just exhilarating. It was unbelievable. We did get back to the dock, but what we forgot is that unlike our other shells in which you could just take the oars out and you'd be fine, we took the oars out, and the boat, of course, turned over immediately, and our crew coach was still strapped into it, hanging like a pea in a pod, in the water. But that was our introduction to this. Within a very short time, we had established ourselves as a group that wanted to do intercollegiate crew, and by that spring we were racing intercollegiately against other—
Ritchie: Were other women's colleges—
Ludtke: Other women's colleges were just starting to do it as well, yes. So it was really the beginning of—
Ritchie: So they, too, had been in these bargelike things?
Ludtke: I don't know what they did. I'm not sure. Wellesley College had its own kind of distinctive barges and boats, but a wonderful lake, just a beautiful lake, which I had the fortune to live next to in one of the dorms. Water was always a big part—the sea. It was terrific, so that became a great passion of mine.
So when I went out to San Francisco, I looked for a rowing experience, and went over to Oakland and rowed with the Mills College team, even though I wasn't at Mills College.
Ritchie: They let you do that?
Ludtke: I don't know why, but they did. I would go over every afternoon and row with them, so I sort of already had this connection to Mills College. So I went to Mills College and asked them if I could do this, if Wellesley said yes, and they said yes. I went there for my last semester, and then I just flew home to graduate from Wellesley.
Ritchie: But you didn't do your senior year at Wellesley?
Ludtke: I did not do my senior year. In fact, the dean of my class, to this day, says that she doesn't know why she allowed me to do it. They never really allowed anyone to do that before. My credits were just sort of this mishmash of U. Mass summer school, Berkeley night school, Mills College—I mean, this whole crazy quilt. I think one of the interesting things to me is that at Mills College I did better than I'd ever done in school. I still have this little plaque, you know, that I got honors and stuff at Mills. I think it was because I was sort of living in the real world. I was really enjoying just having my own place and kind of being out in the world, and I think that may have been one reason I didn't go to graduate school, because I just realized how happy I was just being out and doing something, and I didn't want to go back into an academic environment.
So when I graduated from Wellesley that summer, I actually did go to Smith College to get a teaching certification, because I was still thinking about education. But somewhere, I just never sustained the interest to go into teaching.
Ritchie: So that was what you were thinking of doing?
Ludtke: I was. It must have been what I was thinking of doing, because that's what I did, but I remember more what I did than what I was thinking. But how did I get off on crew? I was talking about something else.
Ritchie: You were talking about Mills.
Ludtke: The time off at Mills. That's right.
Ritchie: What did your parents think when you decided not to come back to Wellesley?
Ludtke: Great. Fine. I mean, I don't know that I ever had a conversation with them about it in terms of what they thought about it. I think I was just announcing to them that—
Ritchie: This is what you were doing.
Ludtke: Yes. They essentially had two kids out on the West Coast at that time. Had I been out there by myself, it might have been different, but Leslie and I kind of hung out a lot together, and that was kind of neat.
Ritchie: What were some of your favorite classes in college?
Ludtke: I guess art history was. I stayed with it, even though I began to doubt its relevance to what I might do later, pretty early on. I took a course in political science, in American political science, by a woman named Marian Just, who, coincidentally, ended up as a Fellow at one of the offshoots of the Kennedy School of Government last year, and we had lunch together. We remember each other very well from that class. I remember loving that class; it was great. And probably if I'd ever really stopped and thought about what I might want to do, it would have been a mixture of history and political science, I just instead kind of went ahead with art history, sort of, in a sense, being nostalgic and wanting to stay attached to the experience I'd had in Rome and the enthusiasm that this teacher had given me. But frankly, I just never stepped back and thought about that.
Ritchie: What about outside activities? You mentioned rowing, but did you continue other sports as you had been doing for years?
Ludtke: I played basketball for Wellesley. I don't know that I played any other organized sport, but the rowing was pretty consuming, very consuming, so I did that. I also did some volunteer work. I can remember going into East Boston and doing some coaching of sports stuff in East Boston at a youth center. But that was probably the most. I did film society, I did a little of that, just dabbled. Of course, our first year at Wellesley was the year of the Cambodian invasion and the Kent State shooting*, so at the end of my freshman year was a time in which there was a lot of organizing and protest on campus, which I was very involved in.
Ritchie: As an organizer?
Ludtke: Yes. That kind of captured my sense of the action.
Ritchie: What did they do at Wellesley?
Ludtke: We held sit-ins, teach-ins. We got shirts stamped with all sorts of symbols all over them, and went in and did marches, had school meetings. It was what I think happened on every other campus. It was a time of high energy.
Ritchie: Did you continue your involvement in political activities?
Ludtke: No, not really. I would have called that a political activity, but, no, I don't think so. I always maintained a great interest in them, in reading about them, but I didn't do much about that interest at that time, although I did work for [George] McGovern. In 1972, which would have been the spring of my junior year, would have been the Massachusetts primary, and I worked for McGovern for about three weeks. I went and headed some office in Brookline or something, for McGovern, and did a lot of work for him.
Ritchie: As a volunteer in the campaign. Have you continued your interest in politics?
Ludtke: Yes. My interest in politics is clearly sustained. I am in some ways a political junkie. I took a leave of absence from Time magazine in 1985 and became the issues director for Joe Kennedy, who was at that time running for the seat that would have been vacated by Tip O'Neill in the Eighth District up in Massachusetts. It was his first run for Congress, and it was a fairly well-followed race, both nationally and also in the state because of his own heritage. It was a tough race, tougher than most people might have assumed at the time, because, frankly, it was an open seat. There were a lot of people going for it, and there were a lot of expectations on Joe to perform up to a standard that may have been impossible for him to reach, but he did a terrific job and then ended up winning. The primary was the big battle, because in Massachusetts, particularly at that time, it was basically assumed that a Democrat would win.
We now have two Republican congresspeople, but that's for the first time in a long time. We always had a Republican congressman in the western part of the state, where I grew up—Silvio [O.] Conte, but he was always thought to be sort of a liberal Republican, sort of more like a Democrat than a Republican, but he was Republican. So the battle was really for the primary, so
* May 4, 1970 - Four students at Kent State University in Ohio were slain by National Guardsmen at a demonstration protesting the April 30, 1970 incursion into Cambodia.
for about thirteen, fourteen months, I worked directly with Joe as his issues director, speechwriter, debate prepper. We spent probably a good twelve, fourteen hours a day doing it.
Ritchie: Working on the campaign.
Ludtke: Yes. It was a wonderful experience. I mean, it was just perfect. It gave me a break from—again, I say I'm not very good at continuing to do the same thing year after year. So it gave me what turned out to be about a midway pause in my career at Time, as a journalist. I worked there about five years before I did that, and I worked there about five years after. So it was a great break. It gave me a lot of insight into how politics really works, and as a reporter, that was something that I could only guess at before. So it was a great experience. So, yes, politics is of interest to me.
I had a choice after that as whether I wanted to come down and work on the Hill with Joe, or whether I would go back to Time, and I made the choice at that point to go back to Time. So I didn't make the choice to work in a political arena, but I'm interested in it.
Ritchie: You like doing the behind-the-scenes work?
Ludtke: Well, that's what I've done. I've never run for office myself, so anyone who's not running is sort of behind the scenes. So that's where I've been, yes.
Ritchie: How did college prepare you for the rest of your life and your career? You thought you were going to teach for a little while, but didn't.
Ludtke: Well, I guess I'm a believer in liberal arts education. I think it prepared me just by teaching me to think, challenging me in terms of what I thought, making me put down my thoughts in sort of a clear, concise way, to try to communicate what I was thinking. I think all of those things are what my career is about. I did learn how to type when I was in ninth grade, and my mother always emphasized to me that that was an incredibly valuable skill and not from the perspective of—she never talked about it from the perspective of becoming a secretary. She always told me, she said, "You won't believe this now (as I was struggling to learn where the keys are), but you will learn how to think at a typewriter. That will be what you'll come away from it with." And she's exactly right. I'm hopeless in terms of trying to actually write something away from the typewriter. So aside from that, which I learned in ninth grade, the value, I think, of my education was just in its critical thinking and its trying to get me to focus my thinking, which tends to go out in all sorts of directions, and try to bring it in.
Ritchie: Your whole life to this point seemed to have offered so many different opportunities in terms of education and family.
Ritchie: And travel.
Ludtke: Yes, I agree. The thing is that I think from my perspective at that point, which was really a very sheltered perspective, I mean, I'd grown up in a college community, I had never lived in a big city, I had watched on television the civil rights movement down South, hadn't connected it really to my experience in the North. I think I believed at that time that everyone's childhood was like mine. Perhaps everyone does. But I think it really came as a shock to me, and I think that shock didn't happen probably until I moved to New York City to start working after
college, you know, and began to actually meet people from outside of these three spheres—this Amherst, this Cape Cod, and this Wellesley College, that I began to realize that not everyone had two parents, not everyone went to college, not everyone had the opportunities to travel in Europe. It just never dawned on me that my experience wasn't the common experience of absolutely everyone. And it may have been even past New York City. It may have taken me, really to absorb that lesson, until I really started doing reporting for Time in terms of children and family, and really began to travel and began to focus on poor children and poor families. Now I can't help but see it all around me, and it's hard for me to ever believe that I thought that that was a common experience.
Ritchie: So your world was really somewhat insulated.
Ritchie: And isolated.
Ludtke: I think so, yes. And not because anyone put up walls and said, "You're not to look out from them," but I think I just lived a life that didn't bring me into a lot of contact with people who had much of a different experience than I did in my life.
Ritchie: Was journalism ever something that you thought about?
Ludtke: No, not for a second. Never, never imagined it. My first experience as a journalist, if one can call it that, was that I was traveling with my parents in Europe that summer of 1968, and we went to Czechoslovakia sometime in the middle of the summer. I can't remember exactly the date. But the date is significant only because we were there in Prague two days before the Soviets arrived with the tanks to change Prague from what it was when we were there to something very different.* I remember writing down my impressions of having been in Prague, and put together some little column that I sent in to the local newspaper, the Amherst Record, which they printed, which I never got a copy of. That was sort of a one-and-only moment where I even thought of doing that. I had never worked for the newspaper at high school, I never worked for the yearbook in college. I never thought about working for the Collegian, never participated in the yearbook.
Ritchie: Did you keep a diary? Did you write down things?
Ludtke: No, never. I really wasn't prepared in any classical sense for what I was about to do, but, you see, I think that's some reason why I think I ended up doing it, because my experience is that I am not someone who's good at the training part. I'm not someone who takes in the academic lessons in that kind of an environment. I was a decent student, but it's not my way of learning. So the idea that I was about to embark on something that was totally not in my preparation, to me seems quite natural, and it always seems interesting and exciting, and it seems to kind of get me primed to kind of take it on.
Now, today people ask me, when I do talks or get-togethers with students who are interested in journalism, and they ask me how I got in, and they ask me for my advice, I think it's often two different things. I think that the world of journalism perhaps has changed today, where you
* August 20, 1968 - Czechoslovakia is invaded by Russians and Warsaw Pact forces to crush liberal regime.
probably do need, in order to get the job, maybe a master's degree, training in it, evidence that you have clips that you've written, that you've devoted yourself to doing this for a long time. It was 1974. It was a different economy. It was a different time. It was a time in which women were being sought after because of a lot of the changes that had taken place both in the world of politics and the world of sports. So there were a lot of circumstances that came together, that gave me an opportunity that I wouldn't have even had, I think, four or five years later. But I think it's very much in keeping with the way my life goes. I had no business doing a political campaign at the level I did it, except that I'd grown up next door to Joe, and he trusted me, he liked me, he knew I was smart, he knew I had great energy, and he knew I'd covered a lot of public policy things. So those were the qualifications he was looking for, and I did it. So it's just always been the way that things have worked for me.
Ritchie: So you've done things that you didn't have what one might call the training and the education, the formal—
Ludtke: Everything I have done in my life, I have not had the training to do, training to do in a formal sense. And getting work, in terms of sports, was certainly no exception to that.
Ritchie: Is there anything else about your childhood that you remember, that you'd like to include right now?
Ludtke: My childhood. My childhood.
Ritchie: Growing up. Brother and sisters. You were closest to Leslie, I guess, because of the age.
Ludtke: Yes, closest and most competitive with, and then there was always that issue of competitiveness, but I think it was good for both of us. In some ways we're still competitive, although our lives have gone off in very different directions, so there's not any sense of direct competitiveness. I would say that the competitiveness we have now is just to push ourselves to do very well in what we're doing in both of our areas. She's a parent, so she balances the work and the family, and I haven't had that experience. So she has a very different life than I do in a lot of respects.
Ritchie: What about reading? Did you read a lot?
Ludtke: Leslie read; I didn't read a lot.
Ritchie: Do you remember any of your favorite books?
Ritchie: Do any stand out in your mind?
Ludtke: Let's see. Favorite books. Oh, I can remember reading Gone With the Wind and loving Gone With the Wind. I read it probably when I was in seventh or eighth grade. In fact, my niece, Leslie's daughter, who just went into seventh grade, read it about a year ago, and I can remember talking to her about it and loving it the way that she did. I can remember reading Little Women and enjoying that. Maybe some other books. I can remember The Scarlet Letter. I remember reading that. I liked biographies. I always liked biographies; I still like biographies. The books that I've been reading recently, I read Truman recently and just loved sitting down and reading it. To me, now, I love reading, but as I say, I was much more an active person when I was young.
I liked reading newspapers, and now I like reading newspapers, like reading magazines. But books were not my thing. I read all the books I had to read for school, and I got through them and I was fine as a reader. I mean, I didn't have any problem reading, but it wasn't something I liked to sit down and just do for the sake of doing.
Ritchie: This might be a good place to stop.
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