[Begin Tape 1, Side A]
Kasper: Well, this is Day 2 and I'd like to pick up and run with your career in journalism and really for most of today, if you will, see how much of that we can cover. And, of course, we have covered most of your life in a life historical—
Castleberry: School and marriage and—
Kasper: Sure. And all of that does intervene. It's not to say that as we cover your journalism career there aren't going to be lots of other things, family and personal and so forth that aren't going to intervene, but this is the day that I'd like to capture the material on your career. Where we left off on that score, is yesterday we talked a bit about your first job. You were an editorial assistant at the Petroleum Engineers Publishing Company. And then when you all moved and Curt went back to school, to Texas A&M, you were the first women's editor of the Texas A&M Battalion. So I'd like you to talk a little bit about that, but then let's get heavy into your—
Castleberry: Well, really, there's not a great deal to say about that. That went on for a little better than a year and it was something that I worked myself into because at the time, as I said yesterday, the A&M Daily Battalion was also the official voice of the city of College Station, so that made it interesting. And there were just a lot of things to be covered that were not being covered because the newspaper, of course, was being run by the boys who were students, and they were students first and didn't have time to cover all that material.
So, I really can't remember my first trip there, but I do remember that I pretty much shadowed—I would go by the Battalion office and then I started writing a column for them on the—the school was just running over with student wives and they had no voice whatsoever. So the first thing I did was talk them into letting me do a column on student wives and student wife activities. And from that it grew and finally they just hired me. They put me on the payroll, gave me a title, and also it was wonderful for them because I was there all of the time. I could keep regular office hours and nobody else could because they would run off to class. And that meant that I became the caretaker of all of the telephone calls that came in, the communication, that sort of thing and did almost all of the communicating.
Kasper: So you knew what was happening not only on campus but in town and everywhere.
Castleberry: Everywhere. Everywhere. And including, of course, the chancellor's office, and the board of directors, and everything that was going on. It was just a fun job. And during the time then that Curtis was in the Corps and getting ready when he graduated to go for advanced training for the military, we didn't know where we would be living because the Korean War was still going on. And the interesting thing was that we did not for one moment think that we would be doing anything except going back into the military. It was just a given because when you graduate with a second lieutenant's degree and you—
Kasper: You become almost a career officer.
Castleberry: You are a career officer until you choose otherwise. And although that was not Curt's first choice, as I said yesterday, he said, with him, at that point in his life, it was a matter of whether or not he would be able to support his family and that a foot soldier or a marine sergeant certainly didn't have this good an opportunity.
But when we graduated—also at that time, after we lost the baby, I was agitating to have another child. I was older than most women at my stage in life
when I had my first one. I was twenty-seven when Carol was born and had had a difficult time getting pregnant. And so she was a rare and wonderful gift. And then after we lost Kenneth, I wanted to have another baby right away and my husband convinced me that I was totally out of my mind. But he promised me that as soon as he got out of school and got settled, we would do this. And we did.
So we graduated and then he went to El Paso for advanced training in the military. I stayed on at A&M, kept my job, continued to work for the Battalion, had Carol, kept our apartment there. And suddenly overnight we found out we were not going to be in the military. The Korean War was winding down and they didn't need him. And here we were rudderless without a—but what we did, another thing that we did for ourselves that was so glorious, when Curt graduated we did take two weeks and we took what we called a pilgrimage through the Old South. We went back to Alabama where his ancestors and mine both originated, and we also went to Florida and we went on down to Miami, as far down, and then zipped back up and Curt's mother, his family kept Carol, so we were just a couple. And I got pregnant. And it was certainly planned. As it turned out, Curt wound up teaching school in a little tiny town in deep East Texas called Burkeville.
Kasper: And where in Texas?
Castleberry: Deep East Texas. It's five or ten miles from the Louisiana line. And it was a little town that had not come into the twentieth century. It had a large and wonderful consolidated school so he enjoyed his teaching, but my experience there was less than tremendous. I had a baby. I also had a very small house to keep and I was pregnant. And by nine o'clock in the morning, I would have had my day all ready to go and nowhere to go. And so that was the year that I really learned to adore my husband's mother. She lived twenty miles from us and almost every day I would tool over to her house and get her and we'd go and get into something, you know, do something. Also, I started writing again and I must admit—my husband will tell you that a great lot of my writing was sad letters to him that you've got to get me out of here or I'm going to die, especially when he went on a convention, an agricultural convention to Houston, and I think I tucked about four letters into his suitcase, love letters saying, "Get me out of here before I collapse 'cause I can't stand it."
The postmistress there, whose name I can't remember, but she was out of the last century. Literally, a little maiden lady who wore horn-rimmed glasses and piled her hair on top of her head and wore long skirts. And she knew everything that was going on in town and she knew that I was a writer and when I would send off a story, I'd walk in the post office and she'd hold up an envelope and say, "Well, something else came back." [Laughter.] So she was not terribly good for my morale. And then at the end of that year with a baby, Chanda, who was born in Jasper, Texas—I don't think she will ever forgive me for that.
Kasper: Why? She just doesn't like the name?
Castleberry: Well, she doesn't like the name. And she doesn't really like the town. But that's where she was born. And that also was a different century kind of hospitalization. She was the only baby in the nursery. Tiny little hospital, tiny little town. And the day that I discovered—the second day of her life and a woman came into my room and said, "Well, I've been in the nursery loving your baby." I just went out into orbit and I insisted on rooming in. I had the baby brought to my room. They'd never heard of a thing like that, but they didn't know what to do with this woman who was insisting on changing their hospital rules. So Curt brought the bassinet and we brought her into my room. And then when Chanda was about ten days old, I had a very bad case of bronchitis that went almost into pneumonia and I was sick for probably about three or four weeks. Curt finally took us to my mother's, both of the babies and me, because he was working.
I've teased Curt. I told him he had to have a fourth child before he had a baby because the infancy of the first three—of course, the infancy of Carol with her in the hospital and us at home, we didn't have at all; and then we lost the second one; and then Chanda I took to my mother's when she was ten days old and kept her until she was almost a month old. So Curt really didn't get into babies until our fourth daughter. Anyway, that's too much of that. He did bring me back to Dallas at the end of the school year in—
Kasper: So this was 1952-53?
Castleberry: It was—let's see, no it was '52. Chanda was born in March of '52 and we came back when school was out. So we came back in June of '52, moved back to Dallas. We didn't know what we were going to do. We had no immediate means of livelihood, no nothin'. But it was a matter of my sanity and I think the survival of the family relationship to get somewhere where I could speak—find somebody to speak a language that I spoke. So he spent a year then—well, he spent several years, working as a businessman. He opened a picture framing and gift business. But he always wanted to go back to teaching.
In the meantime, my life went back to Petroleum Engineer. I had not been back in town probably three weeks until they called me and asked me if I would come and relieve the woman who had taken my place while she went on vacation. And I said, "I don't want to work at this. This is not what I want to do." But I went back for that interim period of time. We needed the money, I needed something to do, and it was an easy way out. I went back for two weeks and stayed two years. And I was on leave of absence from the Petroleum Engineer Publishing Company for Keeta's birth when I was on pregnancy leave. At that time, they didn't—no companies here gave you paid pregnancy leave or offered you your job back after pregnancy, I mean, you were just terminated because you were with child. But my boss at that time, the woman I mentioned yesterday, Ernestine Adams, had assured me in confidence that anytime I wanted to work and she had a job, it would be my job. So in the meantime, for a brief period of time in there, after Curt and I were married, I had worked for Cosmetics Magazine, which was a new magazine that had started in town. I worked for them for one year. And that job was terminated because Cosmetics Magazine just did not make it. It was a glorious dream of a man who really didn't have the finances to make it go. And I really was so grateful because that certainly wasn't my thing to do either.
Kasper: What did you do for them? Write articles?
Castleberry: I wrote. I wrote. I did everything for them. I wrote, I edited, I did layout pages, I learned to bleed pages. You know, everything.
Kasper: What's bleeding pages?
Castleberry: Bleed it means to take your picture to the entire outer cover of the magazine. And anytime you see an ad that bleeds to the cover, the entire rim, including the rim, that costs more money to get that.
Kasper: So it covers the whole page is what bleeding means.
Castleberry: It covers the whole page, there's no margin. And so I learned a great lot, again, about magazines and how you put them out in sixteen-page sections, print in sixteen-page sections. A lot of it I have forgotten, but I could pick it up again in no time at all.
Kasper: So the material wasn't interesting to you, but you learned a lot of mechanics.
Castleberry: The material was not interesting at all because it was superficial. Cosmetics are superficial. And one of the things that I learned, interestingly enough, about cosmetics is that almost all cosmetics come out of the same vat. They're perfumed differently and colored differently and packaged differently and that's how you get your different prices. But that's where I learned to go to the dimestore and buy my lipstick because it's just as good—
Kasper: The same as the ten dollar lipstick.
Castleberry: Exactly. The M.E Moses [dime store] is exactly the same product, very often, as the Neiman Marcus product except that it looks prettier when you get it in a package. But that's one of the things I learned, a very practical thing. So, anyway, I again was working for Petroleum Engineer and at that time then I had three babies. Well, no, I was on leave from Petroleum Engineer for Keeta when the Times Herald called me.
Kasper: When was Keeta born?
Castleberry: Keeta was born in November of 1955.
Kasper: And in '55 the Times Herald called you.
Castleberry: The Times Herald called me.
Kasper: How did they know to call you?
Castleberry: Because one of the woman that had been on my staff, Doris Allen Dowell, who had been on my staff at the Campus at SMU was their society editor. And she had no idea that I was interested in going to work for a newspaper, she just knew that my background was newspapering and they needed a home furnishings editor. The home furnishings market was just opening in Dallas. The home interiors were going great guns here. Trammell Crow had just built the Apparel Mart and the Dallas Trade Mart. And Dallas became, I don't know where it stands now, but it was the second furniture sales city in the nation. But I knew nothing about this particular subject. I was a journalist. And the first thing that I did when I went in there to the Times Herald—I took the job, of course, immediately. I called Ernestine Adams and told her what had happened, and that's where, I guess, we really became friends because she said to me, "That's where you need to be. Take the job," although I was on leave of absence from her company, "take the job, it's your kind of job. You need to get your hand into newspapering." And I went to work for them the first time the 12th day of March 1956. I waited until I got my baby launched and I went to work for them for $75.00 a week. And it looked like good money at the time. And I can't say that I loved the job, but I can say again that I learned a great deal. On the way home from interviewing for that job, I went by the library and picked up about twenty home furnishings books, furniture books, and did a crash course in home furnishings, learned the difference in Heppelwhite and Adam and Sheraton and—
Kasper: Louis XIV, XV and XVI. I can never tell the difference.
Castleberry: Un huh. Right. And I still can't a lot of times. But what I learned there immediately was that people are so willing to help you. So I found a couple of excellent interior decorators in town that I could trust and I called them on everything. I credited them when I could, but I didn't even have to credit them to use their expertise in doing the writing. And then the first thing that I also did was try to humanize the story.
Kasper: What do you mean by humanize?
Castleberry: I cannot stand to write a story that doesn't have people in it. So I learned right off that the way that people generally write home furnishings is just not readable. People don't care.
Kasper: Because they're writing about chairs and—
Castleberry: They're writing about things. And so, I would go out with the idea when I did a house to find out what kind of background made this particular woman want to furnish this house in this fashion. What did she bring to her home life that made her want to choose pictures of a certain kind or pillows of a certain kind. I also learned in that job a great deal about photographing because, although I did not use a camera, it was my responsibility to tell the photographer what I wanted. And home furnishings, if you will check magazines, you will find that home furnishings are the hardest thing in the world to photograph. Because, as you say, it's just a chair.
Kasper: It's not lively. It has no animation.
Castleberry: It has no vitality of its own at all and you have to enliven it to bring it into your work life. And you have to work real hard at that like putting a vase of flowers on a carpet and setting a bee, or whatever, or a butterfly, even an artificial butterfly that looks like the real thing, to give it liveliness to give it vitality, and to make people interested in it. I worked in that job—the hours were not bad.
I had a woman boss at the time. Her name was Gail Pitts. She was a career journalist and a single woman who had no home responsibilities. I liked her. I still like her. She and I are still friends. She went from Dallas to the Denver Post and we still see each other occasionally. I found that I loved working for women. I much prefer working for women to men and this, at the time, was not a popular notion because men hired me. It was the men that hired me. And I still to this day would like to know the difference in the pay scales of the men that went to work for the paper at the same time that I did and my pay scale, because at that time there was no way of knowing that. It wasn't common knowledge.
Kasper: They didn't publish it.
Castleberry: No. Not back in those days. It was a deep dark secret what you made.
Kasper: Who were the men who hired you in management?
Castleberry: Felix McKnight and Bert Holmes.
Kasper: And Bert Holmes is still there.
Castleberry: Bert Holmes is still there and I will tell you a little more about Bert as I go along. If they had not passed Bert up as the top manager of that paper, it would today be one of the top papers in the country. He is a gentle man—
Kasper: I spoke to him. He's a charmer.
Castleberry: But knows his business from the inside out and is tuned into this community as nobody else I have ever worked for in my life. And the other thing that Bert had going for him was that his entire staff would have walked through hell, fire and brimstone to please him. As I have said a number of times, the Times Herald lost its soul when they passed Bert up for a promotion and when they started selling the paper instead of putting him in charge of things.
Kasper: Why did they pass him up?
Castleberry: He was on his way up and nobody tells you, so I only know what I think. And what I think was that we had a guild vote—
Kasper: The guild? You mean the union?
Castleberry: The union. And that management, the management of the paper at that time blamed Bert for the fact that the news room voted—we voted it down.
Kasper: Voted his promotion down?
Castleberry: No, no. No we voted union down. But the management at that time was such that I feel sure that they blamed him for that vote.
Kasper: For bringing the union in at all?
Castleberry: For bringing the union in at all. And, as a result of that, passed him by, did a lateral promotion and then just moved him out of management entirely, slowly. Interestingly enough, everybody that did that is now gone from the paper and Bert is still there. And he is still doing good things for this community and has continued to all these years.
Kasper: Now, he writes editorials for the paper.
Castleberry: He's in the editorial department, un huh. And really has maintained the integrity and the quality of the editorial department all of these years. And I was not the only one that felt that way. I think that I probably was a little closer to him than some of his other staff heads for a number of different reasons, principally because he valued women. And he always valued women. I don't know that I would call Bert a feminist, I would just call him someone who is a very kind and tuned-in human being who treats everybody with respect and dignity.
Kasper: Well, he certainly thinks the world of you. He said you are the pioneer woman journalist in Dallas. That's quote/unquote.
Castleberry: That's nice to hear, but it is a mutual admiration society so you will take that into account. I had known Bert briefly. He was at SMU ahead of me and I had known him briefly there and knew his first wife who died with cancer. In fact, as I recall, and I'm not real sure about this, but she—I know she had a melanoma, and I think she was having a physical examination for a trip abroad that they were going to take and they discovered the melanoma and she died just very, very fast and left two little boys. And then Bert and Helen were married probably about a year later. It was the best thing that ever happened to both of them. Helen is a gorgeous woman who has her own public relations outfit. She recently sold it to a big outfit. But she has handled some of the outstanding events in this community including, she did all of the planning for the Kennedy visit here and was in charge during the assassination. And then she did the public relations for the Republican Convention when it was in town. And she's low key—she's not low key when you look at her, she's a dynamo, she's a human dynamo. But, she had two little boys and he had the two little bigger boys, and they blended these two families in such a way that is probably the best blended family that I've ever known anything about. But Bert worked side by side with us and he was extremely interested in anything that went on.
Kasper: Now when you were still in home furnishings here, you were working with Bert.
Castleberry: I was still in home furnishings at that time. Right. Gail was my boss. But Bert was her boss. And so he kept his hand in very much what our—at the time it was called the women's section, what the women's section was doing. And it was pretty much a women's section. We did fashions, home furnishings, food. We had a huge food section once a week that sometimes ran as many as forty-eight pages.
Castleberry: That's right.
Kasper: Each week?
Castleberry: Each week. Every week it ran as many as forty-eight pages. All the grocery ads were in there at that time and it just, you know, was volume. It was one of the biggest food sections in the country. And we did brides—endlessly we did brides. I mean, morning, noon and night, we did brides. And one of the things that I did right away, I not only did my job, but offered to help out in other fields and this surprised my boss to death because she had never had, say a fashion editor, who would also write brides or do other things. But I could never stand idleness. And so I moved right in to—when my stories were written, I would do anything in the department that was there to be done.
Kasper: So Gail was actually the editor of the women's section. And while you were assigned to home furnishings, you began to do this.
Castleberry: And I began to volunteer. And I'd tell her, anything that you have that you want me to do that you think I can do for you, I'm here to do it. I want the experience of learning the other departments. And one of the things that I did right away was do a series of ten stories called—they were feature stories called "The Good Home." No, wait, I take that back. The first one was "Homemaking Under Handicap." And I chose people in the community who had real handicaps of one kind or another and continued to run their homes. For instance, I did a woman who operated her home from her wheelchair. I did a woman who had three children, one of them completely mentally and physically retarded. Oh, let's see, there were ten of them. And that series of articles won me quite early recognition because it was the human touch that the section had not had much of. When you write brides and that's just a rote matter and you turn it out, just grind it out, or you write home furnishings, or you write fashions, there's not a great deal of flavor and personality to that. So this series of feature stories made me recognized in the community and people began to call me and want me to do other things. So, immediately, almost immediately, I was handling the home job and covering—the first business trip I went on for the Times Herald was to the Chicago Furniture Market
in January. I nearly died. My clothes were not adequate for that. It was one of the worst cold spells that Chicago had ever had. I took my Dallas wardrobe to Chicago and I thought I would freeze to death before I got back. My hotel room was right across the lake.
Kasper: I've had the same experience. Even with a heavy wool coat in Chicago one winter, I nearly died.
Castleberry: It was horrible. It was so cold.
Kasper: It was awful. And I'm a Connecticut Yankee.
Castleberry: But that also told me how to wire stories home and I learned that end of it. At that time all of the stories were sent by Western Union. We did not have computers and so I had to find a Western Union office and wire my story home and that sort of thing. And then the next thing that happened to me, the job was interesting, exciting, I liked it, and I probably—I think at that time, I was simply so busy that I didn't think of it as a career, per se, because I had a huge load at home at that time. I had three children.
And I'll never forget one funny story that happened. At that time Curt really had learned to father. And he was wonderful at it. And he could do things with the babies because of his calm nature that I never could. He could walk in and take a crying child and just have that child soothed in no time at all. And so, one night I came home from work—and far be it from me to let one thing go because I'm doing something else, so what I was doing was rearing three children, working full time, and making Easter dresses for my three little girls. Now, I not only was making Easter dresses, but I was handpainting the organdy collars with textile paints.
And Curt came in one night about ten o'clock at night, he worked late, and he came in and he found the baby screaming. He found the two other little girls crying. He found a wife in tears, and he sat down with me and he said—after he calmed the baby and got her to bed, and after he got the other two little girls to bed, he came and sat down with me and he said, "Now, honey, it seems to me that something around here may have to go." He said, "You can either give up your job, or you can give up the sewing that you do, or you can give up the children. Now, you have a choice." [Laughter.]
And it was that wonderful, calm nature that at times I was ready to spit when he would come in and be so calm when I was climbing the ceiling. But it was the foundation and the bedrock that kept us focused. And so I gave up the sewing and I did an enumeration of what I was doing with my life, and some of the other things that I could let go and it was simply a matter of enumerating what was significant to me, what I could turn loose and what I couldn't.
Kasper: Who took care of the baby or the children while you were gone all day and Curt was working?
Castleberry: At that time, we always had someone who was with us most of the time. I had a woman who was coming in at that time by the day. And she was good, she was extremely good with the children, and we kept her until we found out she was alcoholic. And the way we found out she was alcoholic was really interesting. At that time, we just didn't keep liquor in our house at all. We just didn't have any there. So one night she babysat for friends of ours and she drank up all their liquor. And so it was extremely embarrassing. But I knew at that stage—then it began to dawn on me that sometimes when I would come in she would seem a bit happy. And it turned out that she was lacing her coffee with rum. She was having lots of coffee during the day, but she was lacing it with rum. She was, and I still say, she was marvelous to the children. I never found one thing wrong with the kids except that she didn't change the baby's diapers as often as I would have liked. But, otherwise, she was lovely to them and I don't think she ever did anything that harmed them in any way.
But it was at that stage that I knew that we had to do something else, and we started looking for a full-time, live-in housekeeper. At the time we lived in a fairly small house and we knew that it was going to take some real adjustment to make it work for us. So the first thing we did was enclose the garage of our house.
And also, at the same time, we gutted the kitchen and Curt put a new kitchen in designed to my needs. And what it turned out was, for those days, we had a $10,000 kitchen in a $15,000 house. [Laughter.] Really. But it was a marvelous kitchen. It had an island. It was glorious. It was a wonderful place to work. And we hired a woman whose name was Vallie Bush and the children called her Granny. And she was with us seven years in full charge of all of us. She was with us longer than that, but she was with us for seven years, and she loved my children. She took Kim—to back up a little bit on my career, I found myself pregnant again.
Kasper: This was unexpected.
Castleberry: Well, it was and it wasn't. Curt and I had planned to have four children. But we had not planned to have the fourth one right at that time. I was just getting started in my job and we did not intend—so it was really a failed birth control. I'm good at that. I'd had it happen once before and I mean, literally, because I was using a diaphragm and it literally was a failed birth control. I guess I was very productive because I managed to get pregnant in spite of. So I was pregnant and when I went in and I told Bert Holmes that I was pregnant and I would like—I said, "I am going to resign." I had got bought into the conditioning of those days that a woman cannot rear four children and work full time. It just cannot be done.
Kasper: You believed it at the time.
Castleberry: I believed it. Society had so indoctrinated me that I really believed it and I wanted to be a good mother and I wanted to have good kids. And I was not getting that pressure from my husband. I was not getting that pressure from my mother. But I was getting that pressure from my own inner being.
Kasper: And society at large.
Castleberry: And society. So I resigned my job and I worked until—
Kasper: This was 19—?
Castleberry: 1956. It was early '57 that I resigned because Kim was born in August of '57. And I was not unhappy that I was pregnant because I had planned the four children and it seemed like something that we needed to do. And Curt could support us, albeit he had to work two jobs to do it, but it was still easy enough in those days to do and we had bought our house and we were in it and it was okay. And so I went home then, I guess it must have been in probably the late spring of '57 because I worked pregnant for a good long while. But I went home determined to be a happy homemaker. I was going to do the best job with home and family that you have ever seen in your life. Kim was born August 19, 1957, and I brought her home from the hospital. It was a wonderful experience because by that time everybody at Baylor Hospital knew me and my room was a party. All the nurses knew me and all of the staff that I had worked with brought presents and we had parties. And so I had a four-day vacation in the hospital with my new child.
Kasper: I've always felt that being in the hospital with childbirth is wonderful. All your responsibilities are gone and everybody's taking care of you.
Castleberry: And I loved it, I loved every minute of it and I loved the attention I was getting. I loved the big boxes of gifts that I was getting. And then I brought Kim home and it still, it was working. Granny was still there. She didn't really have at that point in her life anywhere to go, so she was still living with us, and that made it so nice. And I had told her, she wanted to go on vacation, she said, "I will stay with you until the baby is old enough for you, about six weeks, and then I'm going to go on vacation for a little while, travel a little while, and then we'll see what happens. I may come back." And at that time we were really an extended family. Even if I hadn't gone back to work I would have welcomed her back. I would have found some way to have made her life easy enough for her to come back. It was an ideal situation.
Kasper: She was living in the converted garage?
Castleberry: Well, no. No, no. We had enclosed the garage and turned it into a kind of dormitory for the girls. And she had the other little bedroom. And then, when we brought the baby home, she insisted that I put the baby in her room. Wow! I mean, like, WOW! So it was just glorious. And also at that time, as I said to you yesterday, she was taking care of Curt and me. She adored my husband and she pointed out to me every hour on the hour, "Honey, you don't know what a jewel you have." I did, but it was nice to have it affirmed. And also, at the hospital when Kim was born, the young nurse who attended me in the delivery room came in and said, "Your husband is the first man I have ever seen who acted like he had hung the moon when we told him he had a fourth daughter." So, you know, we planned for girls and it was just—so, anyway, Granny was there. I had been home from the hospital five days when Bert Holmes called me and said, "The top job has opened up at the Times Herald or is going to open up. Gail is going to the Denver Post. Would you like the job?" And I said, "No, Bert. I can't do all this and heaven, too. There is no way I can do this. And I just can't do it. I just mustn't try."
Kasper: Now this is the offer of being women's page editor?
Castleberry: Women's page editor. So he waited a week and called me back, and he said, "Have you reconsidered?" I said, "No, I haven't. There is no way that any human being can do all of this. It's just not possible." So I can't remember what the chain of events was, but in about six weeks he called a third time and said, "The job is still open, come talk to me." And I went down to the Times Herald and I will never forget it because I drove our new red and white Ford and put a dent in it that day. [Laughter.] But I came back to the house and I said, "Curt, that is a glorious job. I want that job so badly. I know I would be real good at it. I don't see how on earth I can do it. What do you think?" And my husband said, "If you think you have talents that somebody will pay you for, I wish you would go out and do it because we don't intend to fit into your neat little cubbyholes." Which was the first inkling that I had that I was running them crazy. With all of the energy that I had, I was running that family, as my husband put it, "You're more of a top sergeant than I am in the way you're running this family."
Kasper: I know exactly what you're saying.
Castleberry: Yeah. It was I had so much energy—
Kasper: You had so much energy and it was directed all at the family.
Castleberry: It was directed wherever there was to direct it. I mean, I had to have something to do and I was so busy doing it that I was driving them nuts of having them fit my schedule, and he recognized that.
Kasper: Curt recognized this. And he probably also even envisioned that as the children grew older that you would be terribly involved in their lives, they probably wouldn't have quite the independence and freedom that as parents you probably wanted them to have.
Castleberry: Probably so. I don't know whether he recognized that or not, but he also recalled to me that we had made ourselves a promise that we would have two careers each, one at home and one in the workplace. And he said, you know, I'm still committed to that.
Kasper: Wasn't that pretty revolutionary for that time?
Castleberry: It was extremely revolutionary and he also said, "You take the job and we will do whatever is necessary to make it work."
Kasper: Let's stop for a moment on that revolutionary concept. This is not something Curt dreamed up or you dreamed up, you did this together.
Castleberry: We did this together.
Kasper: Where do you think that came from and how is that you vocalized it.
Castleberry: Well, I think where it probably came from was that, as I said, my mother had always been involved in the workplace, and his mother had always been
involved in the workplace, and that was our basic role modeling and I feel like that even though society was telling us differently both in ways and in words and modeling a difference, I feel like that, again, we were evaluating by the most basic role model that we had and that we were calling our own destiny in the direction that—had almost been put in with the pablum and the milk that we were fed from infancy up.
Kasper: I've always called that kind of a personal manifest destiny.
Castleberry: I think that you're exactly right.
Kasper: And I think that's what we're talking about.
Castleberry: Exactly. And I've never put it in those words but that's a wonderful wording. A personal manifesto of what you want to do with your life.
Kasper: It's almost as if there's a kind of unconscious drive based on how you were socialized or what you learned as a child, the values you acquired from home, that sets a direction and a tone to your life that you almost are powerless to change. And it's a focus and a drive that just kind of sets the direction in which you will go, and you will go.
Castleberry: That's right. Also, at the same time, what I did, I told Bert that day, Bert and Felix McKnight interviewed me, and I knew when I came away that I had the job if I wanted it. I also knew that I needed to talk to Curt and I needed to work through my own hang-ups.
Kasper: What do you mean by hang-ups?
Castleberry: I mean I had to get rid of this conditioning that society was handing me that you can't do it. There's no way you can do it. So what I had to say—I had to re-psych myself out. I had to get to the point to where I knew that I could do anything I wanted badly enough to do.
Kasper: How did you do that?
Castleberry: First, it was talking with Curt and having his feedback. Then the next thing I knew that I had to have my children well taken care of. So that's where Granny came in. Will you come back? Will you do this for me? Will you be my balance wheel? And to work out so that we are an extended family and although we cannot pay you the amount of money that you require and deserve for doing this tremendous job, you will be a part of this family, we will pay you what we can, and we will—it was an agreeing on all of these things. Then the next hurdle was going back to the paper and getting them to agree to some of the things I had to get them to agree to.
Kasper: Which were?
Castleberry: And here is what I said to them. When I walked in, I said, "I want the job. I can do the job. I will do you a fantastic job. I cannot afford to foul up at home and you cannot afford to have a women's editor who does. So I have to do both jobs." And I said, "I will do the job for you. I promise you unlimited time. But I will have to do it on my own hours. There are going to be times when I'm going to be required to do things for my family and my children. And, as a result of that, you're going to get more out of me than you would otherwise get—
[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]
Castleberry: —out of the average employee because I'm going to do the job for you. And I'm going to do a better job for you than anybody else would do. And the way I'm going to do it is sometimes I'm going to be working nights when my husband's home with the children and after I get them to bed and there's something to do, I'll be down here doing it. I will work on week-ends if I need to. I will not watch a time clock. I will do the job." Now, they bought this wholesale, but I had to recondition bosses along the way. Every time I would get a new head of department, I would have to restructure this kind of thinking. And what it amounted to was a
retraining of male employees endlessly because I kept getting new bosses who didn't understand my concept.
Kasper: And you never had this in writing in a written contract, this was all a verbal agreement.
Castleberry: No. If I had it to do over, it would be a written contract. But, in those days, we didn't know to do that. And I worked endless hours. I loved what I did. From the very word go, I went in with the idea that women are whole people who are interested in everything in the world that there is out there to be interested in if it is presented in the right fashion. So I was not going to do a women's news, I was going to do a people news. And we were going to be strong and heavy on features. We were going to eliminate as much as we could the social end of things. At the time we had a society editor, we had a home furnishings editor, a food editor, a fashion editor, a features editor, which had been a new thing that had been brought in fairly recently, and I think that came in after I wrote the series of stories that were such good features they decided that would be a good thing to put in. And then we had three or four general reporters. What I inherited was a staff of ten people, to begin with. That increased only to twelve in the years that I was there. I never headed a staff of more than twelve. And for the most part it was mostly women.
Kasper: Now when you inherited this staff, were you happy with this staff? Because you had high ambitions for this paper. Were you going to change staff too?
Castleberry: I was very happy with most of the staff. The first thing I did, and the hardest thing I ever did, was fire one. It is not any fun to fire someone. Well, from the minute I had taken the job of home furnishings editor, I read and evaluated everything that went into that paper. So I knew where the strength was and I knew where the weakness was; and I knew what needed to be shored up and I knew where the deadweight was. I knew precisely what I could work with and make better and what I was going to have to eliminate. So the first thing I did after I took over was fire the person who was just deadweight. It was the greatest thing I ever did for her because she went out and got another job and became quite good at the other job that she did. [Laughter.]
Kasper: Better than what she had been.
Castleberry: She was lazy and she had been allowed to be lazy. And also, Gail had gone by that time. Gail had been gone about three months by the time I went in and took over. So people were already volleying for position at that time.
Kasper: And this is 1958 that you became—
Castleberry: This is 1958. Un huh. I went back to work for the paper on 1/20/58. And I can't even remember what I made at that time, but it wasn't a lot of money. I did get a raise, but it wasn't a lot of money. Probably $125 a week. And I was, you know, paying a housekeeper and rearing children and the whole bit. And also it was interesting in that the paper in those days was so different. They encouraged us to take gratuities, and by that I mean that there were a lot—they said, in words, there are a lot of sideline gifts that come to reporters, you know, such as tickets to Six Flags Over Texas and free dinners and whatever.
Castleberry: Trips. And those things were just accepted and acceptable. And I lived through the changing of all of that and that's one of the ways that Watergate changed a newspaper. But I totally and absolutely agree that reporters should not take anything for free, ever. But in those days, it was built into the conditioning and I did, I very honestly did enjoy it. I took my children to Six Flags every time it opened every year on press day. And I got to take them to a lot of things. I took my children with me when it was okay to do so. I took them with me at night to Miss America Pageant. I took them at night with me when I was covering the circus. I took them with me for a lot of lectures that I thought they might be interested in. And that was understood. That, too, was a part of the agreement that I made with the paper, that there were going to be times that my children will accompany me to places.
Kasper: There shouldn't be these rigid divisions between work and home.
Castleberry: Right. And I also did other wonderful things. I learned to do things that nobody else could do. For instance, one Saturday I was going to cover some VIP coming in, I can't remember who it was, but it was somebody very important, came in at eleven o'clock on Saturday morning. I had arranged for a babysitter. At the last minute the babysitter fell through. Somebody was sick, I couldn't get a babysitter, I had a plane to meet. What I did was pack a car picnic and take it in my station wagon to the airport. And I put Carol in charge of the car picnic for the children and they had a car picnic while mother went and met the VIP and did the interview. And I came back, they were having a glorious time at the car picnic, and they wanted to know from then on why we didn't have more car picnics! I mean, that was so much fun. "We should drive to the airport for a car picnic. You forgot to do that mother." But we did all sorts of things of that kind.
I took them with me on Sunday afternoon endlessly to work. I would go down on Sunday afternoon and plan my week ahead for the staff. And what I would do would be to take my two older children with me who were schoolchildren and their books, their homework. I would give them a desk and let them work on their homework. That way, they always knew where mother was and they had a direct line to me. Our understanding was that any time they had a real problem, they were free to call me. They were never free to call to chit-chat on the phone or to settle arguments or this sort of thing. They learned responsibility very early on.
And one day they called me at work and Chanda was on the phone. Chanda was usually the one they put on the phone if I was to be conned into anything. And I said, "Chanda, what is it?" Well, it had to be some kind of semi-emergency. "Well, Mother," she said, "it's about this little dog." And I said, "Unh unh. No way. No dog." [Laughter.] She said, "But Mother you don't understand. We went to the library—" (The kids had walked to the library. That's another thing we did. When we bought our house, we situated to where they could walk to Girl Scouts, walk to school, walk to the library, walk to the shopping center. And in those days, it was safe for kids to do that. So they did a lot of walking. To walk to the swimming pool. And I gave them swimming lessons and knew who was in charge of this sort of thing and knew they were safe.) And so they had gone to the library and this little dog, quote, "had followed them home." Well when I got home, the little black Cocker spaniel had been bathed and had a red ribbon in it's hair. So we became the proud possessors of a little dog.
But my job, I always combined the two. And I was always critically aware that I was combining them. And I did things like weekly planning at home and weekly planning at work. And fairly early on—recently I found some of the schedules that we worked with.
Kasper: Now what you're saying is weekly planning for home life as well as your weekly planning for your work life.
Castleberry: Right. We had a family council meeting every Saturday morning around the breakfast table. And as the children grew up, we let them chair the family council meeting because we wanted them to learn how to do this. And one morning that there was a note on our bedroom door that said, "The family council meeting has been called off this morning due to general lack of interest." It was signed "Chanda, Chair." [Laughter.] We decided that we would take the veto power from then on. We had a family council meeting and we outlined what the responsibilities were for the week.
Kasper: Who had to be where when. Whose chores were what.
Castleberry: And we went around and each person chose a chore and every week this changed. Like this week Carol had first choice, next week Chanda had first choice, next week Keeta had first choice, and on. And then the responsibilities for the babies as they began to move into this, and they almost moved into it by the time they were at high chair age, because it was a kind of a given that we would do this. And I shall never forget one wonderful story. Cathy literally was still in her high chair
and she was just barely talking good. The family had been in upheaval that week. Things never work the way you plan for them to work. There are always pieces that fall out. So things had been in pretty much of a shambles and Curt started the family council meeting by saying that things had not worked well this week, and we're all aware of that. So he said, "I'm going to start out today asking each one of you, in turn, what you personally can do to improve this situation. I don't want to know what she can do. I don't want to know what I can do or what mother can do, but what can each of us do." And we got to the baby, and he gave her a turn, and she said, "I don't know. I could pway about it I guess." [Laughter.]
Kasper: And did she mean play or pray?
Castleberry: Pray. She'd been to Sunday school and she learned to pray. [Laughter.] So it was a very charming little happening. Another thing that happened to me along that way that was so fun, just a sideline. She, still in her high chair, and I had a crˆche set and I bought them at the dimestore so the children could handle them and play with them. I didn't want anything that they couldn't handle and play with. And Cathy dropped one of the camels one morning and broke its leg. And when I came in with the scrambled eggs, she said, "Mommy, him walked too fast to Bethlehem." [Laughter.] So, you know, there are always charming stories in every family that children have a hand in.
Kasper: Now, you said you also organized your work life.
Castleberry: I organized my work life on Sunday afternoon.
Kasper: On Sunday afternoon you'd go to the office?
Castleberry: I would go to the office. Or sometimes I would bring it home and do it. But I knew exactly what the assignments—I mean, you can never project in a newspaper what the assignments are going to be, but you know what the routine is going to be.
Kasper: And some of the features you could plan.
Castleberry: And I could plan those. And I also knew what club meetings or beats had to be covered. Starting right away, several things, I hardly know where to begin to tell you how we covered news. But I knew right away that there were about eight or ten. We kept records on two thousand organized clubs in Dallas County that admitted women to full membership. That was our criteria. PTA's, for instance, had both men and women. But we kept records on those. And every September we had a Times Herald forum where we began the club year literally by having an open forum at the Times Herald where we had a keynote speaker and where we gave cash awards. It was silver trays until I took over, and I decided that silver trays were to be polished and that these women who were doing community service needed money to go into their projects so we started doing cash awards in three categories. And the reason there were three categories was that some clubs were bigger than others and can do more than others. So we divided by size, by quantity, in that way. And then we had five community leaders who would vote on—each forum presented their own entry, whoever wanted to enter entered. And then we gave the cash awards.
It generally fell the second Monday of September, the club forum, and it was at a hotel, grand ballroom, and I ran and managed everything. I did not start this, Gail started this. It was something that I inherited, but we made it big. And we invited the president, public relations director and secretary of every organized women's clubs in Dallas County. And individual, engraved invitations went out to these people. I handled and coordinated all of that, very often—in later years, I made them let me hire extra help, but in those early years, we addressed those things and stamped them and mailed them. And this was up to as many as five thousand 'cause you couldn't find everybody, but generally we sent out around five thousand invitations to these things. And they were beautiful invitations, well done, and the Times Herald traditionally began the club year for women in the community. That was the kick-off, and after that they were free to do whatever they wanted to, but they came to this big—it was a big morning coffee and we served all kinds of goodies in the foyer of the hotel and coffee and juice.
Kasper: Now at the same time that you're managing this, you're managing the women's pages, you're also reporting. Now, tell me some of the things that you were covering as a reporter for the women's pages as well.
Castleberry: I was covering those things that I considered to be cutting edge of change, stories that I didn't have anybody yet to assign to, such as wife battering, child abuse. When people would call me, as happened, the first story that was ever done on child abuse done in this community, I did it. And the reason that I did it was that a woman at the medical school that I trusted called me and told me that child abuse was going on in Dallas. And in those days it was very difficult to get my male editors eager to publish stories of that kind. So the way I managed was to warm them up a bit. I would pull stories off the wire.
Kasper: How did you warm them up a little bit?
Castleberry: That's the way I did it. I'd pull stories off the wire that came out of New York or Chicago or some other city and run three or four of those on a subject, and then suddenly we'd find that it was happening in Dallas, Texas, too.
Kasper: So they couldn't say no because other papers had been reporting it.
Castleberry: They couldn't say it's not happening in the world because other papers had been reporting it already. And so, then, another thing that happened along the way that I consider a real breakthrough for us was that our women's pages pioneered, opened up, practically every human interest story that was done in this community for as long as ten years. And as soon as that subject would become credible, city side would take it over.
Kasper: Oh, the city side of the paper. And when you say human interest stories, what do you mean?
Castleberry: Child battering, child abuse, is a human interest story. Wife battering is a human interest story. Rape. Rape is a human interest story. Child care is a human interest story. We reported on all of them first. Those things were not covered by any newspaper in town. Anything. And they were not covered much in the nation. What I was doing was watching what was going on in New York, in Washington, in Los Angeles, in Florida, which had some really good women's pages at the time.
Kasper: Were you reading the Miami Herald and what Marie Anderson was doing at that time?
Castleberry: Sure. Oh, yeah. Oh, sure. Every day. They came to our library and every day I found a few minutes to scan it. I can't say I read it, but I sure knew what was going on. And I also knew that whatever was going on in other parts of the world was going on right here, and all I had to do was look for it. And so I had this call from—I wish I could remember her name. I cannot remember her name because she isn't here anymore, but she called me from the medical school and she and a male physician had been aware that there was child abuse coming through their department. And it wasn't being reported on. I don't know who she had called first, maybe she called me first. But anyway, I went out and that was a very careful story that we did on that very first one—that there is child abuse in Dallas, Texas.
Kasper: How did management of the paper react to that story?
Castleberry: Ahh, they didn't quite know what to do with me. I would meet one of the top male editors in the hallway and he would look at me like, "Where did I get you?" And then one day Felix literally said to me, he blurted out, he said, "What happened to that little girl that we hired who believes, that really believed in all the—" Well, as he put it—I can't remember exactly what he said, but my words later were "really believed in God, country, motherhood and apple pie."
Kasper: And what he was referring to were the fashion pages, and the club notices.
Castleberry: He was referring to the things that traditionally women enjoy that in his framework of reference that are women's news. And I said to him, "Felix,
you hired me and you sent me out to see what the real world was like. And I found out that the stories do not happen at the Petroleum Club and the Dallas Country Club. That's what happened."
Kasper: They also happen in the homes where children are being abused and wives are being battered.
Castleberry: Un huh. And also another thing that I did was I pioneered going into parts of town that had never been covered before.
Kasper: For instance?
Castleberry: I went to South Dallas where the black people live. And I went to children's centers there. And also, I have to tell you that I learned very early on which clubs to watch, what they were doing. I used to say that what the Dallas section National Council of Jewish Women is doing will be acceptable in this city ten years from now.
Kasper: So, in other words, there were some clubs that were on the cutting edge and others that were dull.
Castleberry: Some clubs on the cutting edge. And there were individuals in those clubs that were doing it.
Kasper: And what were they doing? What was, for instance, the Jewish Women's Council doing?
Castleberry: Well, for instance, one of the first things that I became aware of that they were doing, they were sending groups of people into the poverty pockets of South Dallas and other parts of Dallas to shop in grocery stores to see what kinds of foods were available in those grocery stores as opposed to what they could buy in their North Dallas and doing a study on that. They were also exploring health care at the Dallas City County Hospital to find out what kinds of services were available to the mother who brought her child in, and how long she had to sit and wait. They were doing in-depth research studies. And these women, for the most part, were credentialed to do that.
Kasper: Credentialed in what sense?
Castleberry: Many of them were graduates of the Seven Sisters schools. Many of them had degrees in sociology. Many of them knew exactly what they were doing and how to do it and how to evaluate it. And I learned real early who I could trust.
Kasper: Who were some of these groups?
Castleberry: I used to could tick them off. There were ten of them and I could tick them off on my fingers, but I can still do most of them. First and foremost, was the Dallas section National Council of Jewish Women, they were ahead of everybody. League of Women Voters. If you wanted to find somebody that knew what was happening in politics, very early on, Ann Richards was a president of the Dallas League of Women Voters. At that time, the Women's Council of Dallas County, which was a fairly new organization in town. The Women's Council of Dallas County came out of the Dallas Women's Club, which is a venerable, very elite club.
But one day, Willie Lewis and three other women were sitting in their club—this is according to Willie's story—playing bridge. And she doesn't remember who slapped their cards down first, but one of these women slapped her cards down and said, "This is ridiculous. We have to pay the price for the citizenship we are enjoying. We have got, if we can't get this club off first base, dead center, to do something for the community, then we have to organize something else." So they organized the Women's Council of Dallas County and it is a still going, gung-ho group. Every year they study the issues that are the most pressing for women and children in this community and they do something about it.
I found that the Junior League was something that I should watch because it was something more than social. The kind of service that they did for the community, the in-depth service that they did for the community was second to none.
Because what they did when they took their initiates, the young women, into the group for one year, these young women have to do in-depth service in the community. It was a requirement. So I watched what they were doing. I watched what they chose to do. And I watched where they put their money.
I went to the Children's Medical Center and I watched what was going on out there in medicine. I went to the Hispanic community where only Spanish was spoken in West Dallas. I went to their recreation center and learned that both in Black Dallas and in Hispanic-speaking Dallas, the churches were the center of their existence. So I watched what their church groups were doing. That's where I found them and that's how I found them.
Kasper: And what you did, which is quite extraordinary, is that you forged a link between your newspaper and what was happening in the community.
Castleberry: I did.
Kasper: So that it wasn't just that you were seeking out news, you were also working in conjunction with these groups to identify what the issues were of the time that then needed to be reported in the paper.
Castleberry: I was. And I cared deeply about all these things. I have taken tears into many meetings. And, you know, a reporter is supposed to be objective. I was never objective. For instance, again, back to the National Council of Jewish Women started the first preschool in South Dallas and it was a cooperative venture. They went down and provided the money and the expertise, but they worked with the mothers to set up the school and Hortense Sanger and Gerry Beer were extremely important in getting that job done. That was a link between Temple Emmanuel which is in North Dallas and the South Dallas housing projects.
Kasper: So that The Children's Center was set up in South Dallas—
Castleberry: It was set up in South Dallas, it was set up in the housing center.
Kasper: This was not for upper middle class Jewish families, this was for poor black children.
Castleberry: Oh, no. This was for poor black children. And they also took their women in and taught people how to mother and how to parent. And it was a hard job. And there were many days that I'm sure they wanted to throw up their hands and walk out because you can't begin at grassroots to teach people something and have it happen overnight. So they went in with the idea of staying there until it worked. And did it ever work. Now this center that they started is a part of the Greater Dallas Child Care Program. And what they did, and what a great many other women's groups have done, is initiate change that needs to take place and get it on its feet and then they turn it over, and then they go do something else, such as, paired housing.
Kasper: What is paired housing?
Castleberry: Well, when you go into a community where their houses are in a shambles and need painting and you go down and you offer a cooperative, a hand-up to, you know, we'll help you paint this and we will help you clean up the rubbish and we'll help you. Teaching women in the poverty areas how to cook, how to manage on a low income. And as the social issues have reared their ugly heads, there have been women's groups who have been there to do it. For instance, now, a great many of the women's clubs are working in teenage pregnancy. And every issue that comes along, women are there first to answer the needs. And those things were not being reported.
Kasper: What you're saying is that back in the 1950's not only was this not being reported on the news pages, it was not even being reported in the women's pages. Anywhere in the paper.
Castleberry: It wasn't being reported anywhere. And I also had to bite my tongue in two different areas because the women's pages had a stigma attached to them and a women's editor had a stigma attached to her.
Kasper: What was that?
Castleberry: That was that if you're any good at all, you don't stay in women's news. If you're any good at all, you want to cover politics or you want to get out and cover the—
Kasper: Foreign affairs.
Castleberry: Or you want to chase the cops and robbers.
Kasper: To really prove yourself as a journalist.
Castleberry: Yeah. To prove your mettle as a journalist. You cannot stay in the "soft side" of the news, you've got to get into hard news to be a reporter. And I kept refuting that and I kept saying I'm where I want to be. I don't want to be doing anything else. This is where the heart and soul of humanity is. These are the kinds of stories that must be reported and that must be held up as pictures to the community so that something can be done about them. So, anyway, we did it, and we did it over and over and over and over, and some of the things that we did, did not get done. For instance, I have one page which I will show you here if I can find it that we covered on teenage sexuality. We did that in a Sunday paper and we were right ready to go to press when our male bosses looked at that and said, "Whoa! Wait a minute, you can't print this story." And so, we didn't.
Kasper: Because they were afraid that it would raise hackles in the community and so forth.
Castleberry: They were afraid. Oh, yeah. It would raise hackles.
Kasper: You mentioned to me yesterday that there was also an article on wife abuse that you wrote at one point that went unpublished.
Castleberry: Oh, yeah. Yeah, that was fairly late in my career that I went out to this hotel room and interviewed this woman who was black and blue and bruised and wearing colored glasses when I saw her and whose husband's former wife had died under very unusual circumstances. She fell from a moving car on one of the main streets in this community. And my paper still would not let me print that article because I did not get his side of the story. They wanted me to call him up and interview him, find out what he had to say about all this. As if I didn't know.
Kasper: And did you refuse?
Castleberry: Well, no, I didn't exactly refuse. I very honestly just never got around to doing it. I wasn't about to talk to that man. I had talked to other people in the community, I knew what he was like. I knew who he was. I had also talked—at that time, at one stage, he had allowed her to enroll in one of the junior colleges, and he would follow her to class and check her out through binoculars. So I checked that out for myself. I followed him one day and saw that he was doing it. When you see things with your own eyes and you still have call up somebody to get the—
Let me go back and just fill you in on a couple of other things. Before I get just totally inundated with loving my job and loving to tell you about the kinds of things we did and the fun. Another thing that happened along the way is that I got pregnant again. And that was an unplanned pregnancy and I told Cathy from the first day of her life that she was unplanned but most wanted, because I knew in fact the kids are going to tell 'em. And I'll never forget the day I came home and Cathy was in tears because she was not a wanted child. Her older sisters had told her so. But I had already told her, but like most bonuses she was the best thing that ever happened to us. It was again, a failed birth control, and I was in tears that time. I had just got started on my new job.
Kasper: What year is this?
Castleberry: It was January of '60 that she was born. I was just going good with this new job. I had things moving. I had my staff in hand. They were working for me.
They were not any longer working against me. I had put together a staff. I had fired one and one had resigned. My society editor, who was responsible for my going to the Times Herald had resigned to get married and to follow the tradition of—
Kasper: Who was this?
Castleberry: Doris Allen Dowell. And she had resigned to follow the traditional patterns of women and has continued to do so all of these years. She found her niche in that way. But she loved covering society and she was born into Dallas society and she loved covering it and she was a beautiful, wonderful person that I just adored. But I never again hired a society editor that covered society like she did. I wanted someone that, to me, I looked at society with a small "s" instead of capital "S" which didn't always please my bosses.
Kasper: So what you meant by the small "s" is sort of anything in the culture out there that was of human interest.
Castleberry: Anything that people do that was of human interest is a part of the social milieu that makes up the whole of society. So I covered things and I got my hand slapped a few times. They really didn't enjoy my going to the—in those days, going to a campground and covering what the black people were doing at a picnic, you know, that wasn't our cup of tea. But it was what the community was doing. Also along about that time, constantly and consistently from the word go, from the day I walked in, I said, we must publish black brides. We were not publishing black brides, the black women who were marrying, we were not putting those in our paper.
Kasper: So at this juncture, around 1960, the transformation of women's pages from what Molly Ivins called its old incarnation of fluff and drivel to its new incarnation of substantive news is taking place. So at the same time that you're reporting on news of the community, and I'm talking about child abuse and rape and the abortion issue and so forth, you're still—you've got your food editor. You've still got your so-called society editor. You've still got people who are reporting on the brides, although this time you're including black brides—
Castleberry: Not yet.
Kasper: Not yet. You're just beginning to.
Castleberry: No, I'm trying.
Kasper: You're trying to. What happened when you tried that?
Castleberry: From the word go, I kept telling management we had to do this. We have to do this. We have to do this. I don't know how long it took.
Kasper: And what is management saying?
Castleberry: Management is saying, "No." I mean, in a word, "no." The word that comes back to me is "no."
Kasper: Well, as Bert Holmes said to me, if you remember that this—or maybe it was Charlie Dameron, it was one of the two men that I spoke to, who said, you have to remember that Dallas is an old southern town and we had a lot of no-no's and shibboleths and one of them was that no black person's picture appeared in the paper. So was that part of the problem?
Castleberry: Oh, it was the problem. It was the problem.
Kasper: They didn't want news of black people, they didn't want black peoples' pictures in the paper in the 1950's.
Castleberry: That's right.
Kasper: So what happened with that issue?
Castleberry: So, what happened was that I just kept on and kept on and kept on dribbling away, and I don't know why they didn't fire me, because I probably asked at least once a month—at least. And finally, when I did it, when it finally happened, I was at SMU covering a conference and there was one of the black women, I can't remember who she was, I wish I could, she was a fine, outstanding person in this community, came up to me and said, "I want you to explain something to me. How do you explain that you published one white debutante's picture in the paper twelve different times in her debut season, a period of three months, and would not publish my daughter's picture when she got married." And I said to her, "I cannot explain that to you. If I could, I would. I am not going to stand here and try to tell you that, that it is justified in any way."
Kasper: So, for your newspaper, it was all right that you reported on, let's say, the Council of Jewish Women going into South Dallas and working with poor mothers and helping them and maybe setting up a child care center and doing something for poor black families, but the fact that black families might be making good on their own in Dallas was not reportable news in this newspaper.
Castleberry: Right. Exactly. It was not reported yet. In anything in this country, or in Texas, for that matter. So anyway, I came back that day and I sat down and I wrote a five-page letter to my top boss. It was Jim Chambers when he still owned the paper, owned the chief stock in it. And I started out by saying, "This is a love letter to you and before it is over you're not going to think it is a love letter." And I pointed out a number of different things. One of them was—the first I started with was the black bride issue and I just told him the story. I said, I would tell you this in person except that getting an appointment with you is very difficult because you're very busy. I worded it differently. I always went at all of this with the idea that I do not have a problem I have a challenge, now let's work together to see if we can work it out. What we're going to do about this. And that was the vein in which I wrote this letter. And I said, because you're a very busy person, I want to set this down on paper for you to think about. And I also asked in that for more emphasis on people news and for—I said, we strongly need support in our department from management. We feel like stepchildren, and it's very difficult for me to come in every day and get my staff all enthusiastic about what they are going to do when I do not feel the enthusiasm from the top. And we need your support. We need to know that we are a part of this family and that we are cared about. And we need to be paid for what we're doing, which we are not. And we know that our salary levels are lesser than they are in almost every other department. We need to know that we matter. I reread that letter the other day when I went in, and it was so funny because he had scribbled at the bottom of the letter to my boss, "Do you think we need to talk to her about this?" And no talk ever came of it, I mean—
Kasper: Nothing ever came of that letter.
Castleberry: What came of it was that I did get a little note from him saying it's okay to publish black brides.
Kasper: That's all that came of that letter.
Castleberry: That's all that came from that letter.
Kasper: But, it was a challenge, and you got a little piece of it.
Castleberry: That's it. And so I was driving home that afternoon and I thought about the note and I thought, why don't I feel better because I have really won a major breakthrough. And my answer to that was, we shouldn't be publishing brides at all. Here I have just gotten a whole, you know, another thing to do, and we shouldn't be doing this at all. So, anyway, I was handling at that time up to two hundred brides a week and to keep each one of these people straight, and their names straight, and the spelling of everything straight—
Kasper: Yes. Marie Anderson talked about that. She said it's just a huge nuisance and it takes up staff time and money and photography time.
Castleberry: But, let me also tell you, I've rethought this a little bit. That is the one time in life that a woman remembers how the paper treated her.
She will clip it and keep it for the rest of her life. And I think there should be a place in our world for that. I have rethought it. Now, in my own daughters, I never tried to get any of them—there was only one of them that we published in the paper. I mean, it wasn't a personal thing with me. I wasn't interested in that, but believe me, people are interested in that.
Kasper: It is community news, there's no question about it.
Castleberry: It's community news and as I say, it builds goodwill for the paper that nothing else builds.
Kasper: But it should not be at the expense of more substantive news.
Castleberry: Never. Never.
Kasper: That was your problem right there.
Castleberry: There are two times in life that if you are good to people they never forget you. And one of them is when they get married and the other one is when they die. And as I stayed with the paper, I began to get obituaries, too, because people knew me and they would call me and say, you know, my aunt died or my mother died. Well, I had one time, one night, one of the most poignant things that I ever had was a woman that I had worked with, she was German-Jewish, and she had come here escaping from the Holocaust, and she had started in our community the literacy program, teaching people to read and write. So I had worked with her very closely. And I just adored her. She never learned to speak English very well, but I would spend hours listening to her because—and she was so good with people who couldn't read and write. And every Christmas she would make me marzipan and bring it to me. But I adored her.
And one night—I hadn't heard from her in some time and I knew she wasn't very well—and one night about nine o'clock I got a call, at home, from her husband. And he said to me, (what was her name? Not Rosie), but he called her name, they had no children, he said, "She is dying, and she asked me to give you a call and tell you good-bye and to tell you that she had enjoyed working with you and to tell you that she had given her body to medical science and that there will not be a memorial or that there will not be anything, but there are a few people that she wanted me to call and thank them for being alive." You know, once you're committed like that, you get all these different kinds of calls. Margaret was her name. Margaret was her name. Margaret Hirsch. She was absolutely one more gorgeous individual. And those are the kinds of things that happen to you when you get into peoples' lives. And I got into a lot of peoples' lives in all parts of this community.
Back to, turning back a little bit, with my pregnancy and leave, that time they gave me a leave, but it was unpaid.
Kasper: This was 1960.
Castleberry: It was late in '59 because Cathy was born January the 20th of '60. They gave me a leave to come back to work, but it was unpaid. My boss, Felix McKnight and I, had worked out that I would work part time at home, keep my hand in, write feature stories from home and go down maybe once a week. I had to take care of myself because again I was having a kidney infection, even though by that time we had antibiotics to help and I didn't go crazy with it, it still was not fun. You know, any woman that has six children with a kidney infection is crazy. I categorically will say that. And I was nuts. So, of course, I did have a tubal ligation immediately after Cathy was born. My doctor wasn't sure. He said I was still, quote, "a young woman." He wanted to be sure that I wanted to do this and he wasn't real sure that this was what I wanted. I guess, in a sense, I was fortunate. Cathy was born from a split placenta and if she had not been born really fast, she wouldn't have made it. But she came really fast and so the doctor didn't quibble with me and they went on and did the tubal ligation and so I haven't been pregnant again and that's wonderful. [Laughter.]
But, the period of time that I took off, from probably it was November before I really left the paper, suddenly they were not going to let me work at home, and I
never knew why until the other day when I went through my employee files. And the men that I was working for, Bert and Felix, both wanted me to have a leave and work at home, and Jim Chambers wrote "no" at the bottom of their request. And so Felix wrote back and asked for special compensation. He wanted me to keep my hand in. He wanted me to keep my byline in the paper. He thought it was good for the paper. Jim Chambers wrote back, "Don't push me on this. The answer is no."
Kasper: What do you think his reasoning was?
Castleberry: I have no idea. I have no idea. None.
Kasper: You still, to this day, do not know. Do you think he was trying to get rid of you?
Castleberry: Probably. My feeling is that the kinds of things that I was doing for the paper—I do know that along the way I had several male bosses come in and one of them finally admitted to me that his whole job was to handle me.
Kasper: Who was this?
Castleberry: His name was Lou Harris. He was ineffective, and he was put into this position and one day I was pushing him on something and he just thrashed out, he couldn't hold it any longer, he lashed out and said, "I was given this job to handle you."
Kasper: Oh my goodness. Apparently you were unhandleable.
Castleberry: And I said to him, "Well, good luck. Better people than you have tried it." [Laughter.]
Kasper: Did you?
Castleberry: I did.
Kasper: Good for you. That's wonderful.
Castleberry: And I also did some other things along the way. I had one boss—when the paper would come out every day, one of the things that I loved about the paper at that time was that we were handling it just like it was a news section—it had turned into a news section, which meant that we replated it for second edition and third edition.
Kasper: Your section had turned into a news section or what are you saying?
Castleberry: Well, it was really—it was more than—we had named it "Living." We had gone down—
Kasper: Okay, it had already gone through the transformation.
Castleberry: It had gone through the transition and we were behaving like newspaper people. When the paper came out everyday, we stopped everything, read our section out, replated it, made our corrections, put in new stories as they were breaking, breaking news stories. I've had reporters call me from all over town with breaking stories.
Kasper: What year was this that that transition came from women's pages to "Living"?
Castleberry: Oh, '60, '61, '62. It was shortly after I went back after Cathy was born. I don't remember exactly. I could be wrong on that. We had, at that time, made the transition and with the blessings of Bert and other people who were running things—
[End Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]
Kasper: —going on in the American Press Institute, it was a conference on women's pages, women's editors, or editors of women's pages, I should say.
Castleberry: Now that was an extremely significant conference for me because I was just beginning to take over and to begin to try to get a new direction for the women's news department which I was already pressing to change the name to something else so that it would really reflect what it was that we were trying to do, and that was that we were not going to be a traditional women's page in the sense of doing just the surface, frivolous things, but getting to some kind of depth reporting.
Kasper: Which you had already started.
Castleberry: Yeah, I'd already started it.
Kasper: But now you wanted to institutionalize it.
Castleberry: I wanted to institutionalize it. In addition, I needed some direction and some clout. I needed to feel that I wasn't all by myself out there in never, never land. So I credit Felix McKnight for doing that for me. He really was wonderful to push that through and at the very first conference that was ever held for women's editors at Columbia University by the American Press Institute was in June of '59 and I attended that. I was one of twenty-four or twenty-six participants and out of that group came some of the really outstanding journalists who later developed into nationally and internationally known journalists such as Dorothy Jurney was there, Gloria Biggs, Marie Anderson, Maggie Savoy, who is now deceased. She was the, I believe, features editor of the Los Angeles Times. She held a prominent post at the LA Times following that. Jean Otto, who later went on to edit the op ed page, I believe with the Milwaukee Journal, some of this will bear checking out. Marge Paxson, who then went on to edit her own newspaper, and be publisher of a newspaper. So it was really a remarkably fine group of people that I got to be with and try to check out my ideas against theirs and listen to some of the women who at that time were older than I and had been in it a lot longer than I and to find out that the needs were—and, what we wanted to do was kind of universal, that we were all journalists who were eager to move our particular sections of the paper into the real world and to report on what was going on in the real world.
Kasper: So you were like-minded. You came with the same kind of focus of purpose in mind, which is wonderful.
Castleberry: And there were very few people in that session that didn't feel that way. There were a few. There were a few who couldn't catch the vision, didn't get the dream and probably went home and did the same old thing, including the two men who were there. That was funny, because there were two men, and I have to tell you a funny story here because one of the two men who was there gave me a terrible time all the time that I was there.
Kasper: Would you like to name a name here?
Castleberry: I wish I could remember it. I would tell you if I could remember. But I think—I have a real tendency to forget those people that bug me the worst. And I mean I honestly do. And I think that is probably a gift that I have been given by something higher than I am because people tell me sometimes I should remember my enemies better, but I don't. I remember my friends, but I forget my enemies. And also, I think for the most part, at this stage of my life, I have learned to love the person and forgive what they do. It's a very hard leap to make. But this man was just—he was just tacky. That's the best word I know to put it in. He wanted to know repeatedly, bugged me repeatedly throughout the whole week about what my husband and poor little children were doing at home without me. At that stage I had four little children that I had left at home and it didn't matter that their father was here and that he was very capable of running things and quite a grown-up person and could handle this situation and that the full-time housekeeper was there handling all of the mechanical needs. But anyway, it was just out of his framework of thinking that a woman could have a career and also be a mother. And you will remember that I also was newly pregnant at that stage. I didn't ever tell him that I was pregnant too. [Laughter.]
Kasper: That would have really swung him for a loop.
Castleberry: But, it was so funny. I put up with this all week. And we would be in an informal session, we would be at a lunch, maybe, and he would think of a way to jive. And so finally on the last day that we were there, he had pushed for so long and I had taken about all I wanted to take. And when he came up then at the last day and said, "Well one thing you have never told me is how does your husband feel about the way you're living your life?" And I looked him straight, and I said, "Well, I want you to know that my husband is so grown-up and so mature and so capable of handling life that he doesn't think anything about this, and I so wish that your wife had the same kind of gift." [Laughter.] And I never heard from him again.
So, anyway, that was a tremendous experience, the API, the American Press Institute gathering. And then, of course, we corresponded later.
Kasper: How many days did this conference go on?
Castleberry: It was a week.
Kasper: And you had workshops?
Castleberry: We had workshops every day.
Kasper: And what were they on?
Castleberry: They were on news reporting, headline writing, page layout, topics for women's pages, what kinds of things are being covered, what is not being covered in this country. Also there were outstanding critiques that were given on the way your section looked. We all sent our sections ahead of time and they critiqued those and had experts in the different fields to critique them. And you came away not only with a global view of what should be happening, but you came away with specific help on how you were doing things right and what you might be able to help with.
And some of the things I didn't agree with, and that was the fascinating experience for me. For instance, I had written an article and I had the district attorney here, Henry Wade, to write the other article on Mother's Day. We had come out with a page called "What I Most Hope for My Child." And I had written the article from a mother's point of view and I had asked Henry Wade to write it from a father's point of view on what we wanted our children to grow up to become. And the page was laid out with photographs all the way around the border so that the type, then, I put in the center like it was a framed picture. And it was a conglomerate of photographs around the outside edge and it was the oval type in the center of this thing made it look like the framed picture. And we got extremely positive comment, not only on the content of that story, but also on the way it looked. It just kind of slapped you in the face. This was really before color so it was all black and white. But at Columbia, they thought that this looked really a little bit juvenile and that it was much too packed and that the eye could not really capture what was going on. I disagreed with that, and I didn't say so, but I just came back and continued to do the things that I knew were right for me, my paper, and my community. So it wasn't that I absorbed wholly everything they were saying. Critique, to me, is to help you to improve the best you can do rather than to change the direction and shape and what it is your trying to do. So I got just a tremendous amount out of that experience.
Kasper: Did you come away feeling that you got the support that you were looking for? That what you were doing was right, covering women's news in a whole new way?
Castleberry: Oh, I knew it. I knew the direction. I came away affirmed completely that where I was headed was exactly right and that that was the direction that we inevitably would go in.
Kasper: Did you find that these other women editors were doing the same kinds of things that you were doing?
Castleberry: Yeah. For the most part, yes.
Kasper: They were covering substantive news.
Castleberry: Oh, yes, yes. Some of them ahead of me because they were working for newspapers that were ahead of us.
Kasper: What papers were those?
Castleberry: Oh, those were the—mostly the Los Angeles papers and the Florida papers. The Florida papers were interestingly enough at that time probably the most advanced in women's news.
Kasper: What did you attribute that to?
Castleberry: There being a new area of the country that had a lot of tradition that they had to live down first. New things can be innovative. Things that are set in tradition always have trouble changing.
Kasper: And Dallas is a very traditional place.
Castleberry: And Dallas is a very traditional, very conservative, old south city. And any area of the country that you're in where—such as California, be the first by whom the new are tried, boy, they were going to do it, and some things are not right, but at least they're trying it out. And we couldn't do that. Sometimes it was extremely hard for me to patient and wait. I would push—I used to say that I had this technique. I would take my little canoe out into the waters to see how far I could get it from shore. And if the waves got too high and heavy I would take it back into the shoreline and I would sit there with it in a safe place until the waves subsided, then I'd take it out again to see if those waves are still out there. And sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. But that took its toll on me and I very honestly—
Kasper: How was that?
Castleberry: I very honestly think that one of the reasons that I succumbed to cancer was that I had ingested too much stress and pressure. It really took its toll on me and if I hadn't had a husband who was a marvelous balance wheel, I wouldn't have made it. And I've said to you, I don't think I've said it on tape, I would walk the streets with Curt and he would say to me, "Honey, how can I help? What can I do?" He also would say to me, "Well, it's their paper, why don't you just do it the way they want to do it and don't push so hard." He, I guess, typical of most people that you love, he would have loved to have protected me more. And then I would say to him, "You can't help me because you've never been a woman, you've never lived through this. It's nice that you're there. I'm glad that I feel the support, you're a good foundation. But this is something that I have to do." And I also began then to work out my own women's support system. And I pulled around me twelve women—well there wound up being fourteen of us, but we started out with just twelve, twelve women that I personally chose who were about my age from different walks of life who had been the only criteria in my selecting these people for our support system for each other was that they had been outstandingly successful in what they had chosen to do with their lives.
Kasper: Well now, you're talking about the women's network that was your and their private network.
Castleberry: Private network. Right.
Kasper: And about what time did you start putting this together? The late '60's was it?
Castleberry: Probably the late 60's. Probably the late '60's. I had done it informally with different friends before that time, but it just, it suddenly dawned on me one day that I was doing all of these things for other people. I was planning programs for other people. I was trying to run a staff. I was trying to keep their personal ego and also keep them moving together as a unit, totally, you know, working with newspaper people is hard because each of them is a total individual, has to be, and I respected that.
Kasper: Let me just back up a little bit. About this time, when you had met Dorothy Jurney at the API Conference, didn't you also travel to Florida to see what she was doing down there at the Miami Herald? You spent a week with her or something?
Castleberry: Yes, I did. I spent several days, I think it really was about three or four days that I went down.
Kasper: What did you go down there for? What did you want to see?
Castleberry: Let me see if I can remember exactly what I went for. I can't remember what invitation it was or what gimmick I used to get permission to go.
Kasper: She said you came down because you wanted to see what they were up to.
Castleberry: That's right.
Kasper: And you got permission from management to go on some excuse.
Castleberry: I did. I did. But it was a job of some kind and I can't at the moment recall exactly what excuse allowed me to make the trip, but the purpose of the trip was to find out what she was doing with that paper and how she did it.
Kasper: It was kind of like going to this conference. You wanted the support from other areas of the country to know that what you were doing was being done.
Castleberry: In order to see how they were doing it. I wanted to see how I could do it better. I wanted to find out if there were things and avenues that they were using that I could borrow.
Kasper: That you just hadn't hit upon.
Castleberry: And we had to do a lot of that because there was not—it was a totally do-it-yourself project. When I took the job at the Times Herald, even my beloved Bert Holmes, he said to me—oh, it was Felix McKnight who said to me, "Honey, if you have any problems, you just come to me and we will work them out." Now that was my total management training to take over a staff. And my big hang-up was that I didn't know I was going to have problems. I didn't know what questions to ask. So it was a learn-the-hard-way and of course at the same time that I was doing all this, I was working in the back shop which meant that I—
Kasper: What's the back shop?
Castleberry: The back shop is where they print the newspaper. In those days it was all hand printed. You literally picked the type up and set it into place and you used linotype machines and whatever. And that group of people, they were all men at that time, and it was a totally different group of people from what your reporters are. They were blue collar workers. Some of them absolutely marvelous. And I learned that I had to work with those people, they could make or break you. Because they could follow the exact letter of the law which meant that they had a union contract and we didn't. It meant that when their break times came, they could drop everything they were doing and walk out for a thirty-minute break while you, who had small children at home, who needed you to come home and do dinner, sat there and cooled your heels. And so I had to learn how to work with these men, most of them were old enough to be my father, and none of whom had ever worked with women. And that was an experience.
And there were two or three of them who turned out to be absolutely divine. There's one man, whose name I can't remember, that I still see in this town, that I would like to give a gold star to because he would do things for me that the union didn't allow behind their backs. He would stay with me through his break time because he knew I needed to get home.
And then there was also the sexual harassment that went on. There was one man in particular who was terribly, terribly—saw himself as a real ladies' man and who made all of the nasty innuendos and cutting remarks that he could make.
And I wanted to handle it without slapping his face or otherwise making a scene. I did not want to get down on his level. But it was a hard row to hoe. And I finally handled him—I don't know if I want this to be a part of this or not—but, I finally handled him one night when he had been particularly obnoxious. It was a Friday night and I was trying to get the Sunday pages out and he was dawdling and ogling and making suggestive remarks and putting his hands on me every time he could—if he could get close enough. And I kept avoiding and dodging and moving and not listening and bantering and whatever. And finally, he said to me, "I bet if I could just get you alone you would be just one hunk o' woman." And I dropped what I was doing and I looked at him and I said, "Listen, I want something clearly understood. My husband thinks so and he is the only one who is allowed to think that. And if I hear another remark from you top management is going to hear about it." And I never heard anymore from him. And he was gone soon after. I don't know whether somebody else reported him or what happened. But there was also that angle that we were constantly confronted with.
Kasper: Now, how was your staff at this time which was about the late '60's? Had you made some more changes?
Castleberry: I want to go back just briefly to shortly after I went back to work after Cathy was born. When I went back to work after Cathy was born, I left there in the fall and didn't go back until—well, she was born on the 20th of January and I can't recall exactly when I went back, but it was probably in March. I didn't stay off long that time at all. And I went back and my staff was in a shambles because there were people on the staff who had determined that I was not coming back. They were taking bets on whether or not I would come back. There was one woman that I had hired and trained who had decided that she would like to be women's editor.
Kasper: Who was this?
Castleberry: I can't remember her name. I have a hard time. Her first name was Sarah, and I can't remember who it was. But I do remember, I couldn't get my hand on what was going on. All this was going on behind my back and I was back trying my best to get the job done that needed to be done and not really realizing that I was being sabotaged behind my back. So one afternoon after everybody had gone home I wandered into Bert's office and I said to him, "Listen, I'm having some problems and I don't clearly understand what they are." And he looked at me real straight and he said, "If you want to put your staff back together, fire Sarah." And I didn't have to do it. And I didn't have to do it because I walked in the next morning and I called a staff meeting and I said, "Listen, gang, I clearly understand there were bets being taken about whether or not I was coming back, but I am back and I am taking over."
Also, at the same time, before I called my staff together, I went to the top boss, who at that time was Felix McKnight, and I said to him, "Mr. McKnight, I'm going to do something today and want you to know what it is. I'm going to call my staff together and I'm going to lower the boom." I said, "I understand that people have been running in here one after the other reporting to you about just the different things that are going on and it's been one person doing one thing and somebody—and then," I said, "you're having to listen to all of these sad sob stories of what people are coming in telling you is going on. And I just want you to know that I'm taking over today and you don't have to do that for me anymore." And I said, "From now on, I would appreciate it if they come to you," I said, "I'm going to tell them, and I would appreciate it if they come to you that you tell them to come back and work it out with me so that together we can come to you." And I said, "I'm not trying to usurp any authority that belongs to you or anybody else at this paper, but I know that you have more to do that you don't have time to listen to all these sob stories that are coming to you time after time after time."
Kasper: And he agreed with that. He was pleased.
Castleberry: He was relieved. He was incredibly relieved. So, anyway, that got me back. Another thing that I would like to mention here that I did that I found to be one of the best things I ever did and I still think so. In 1957, way back then, I started what I called at first a Homemaker Panel because that's what would go over at the time. And every year for twenty-five years we changed it;
we changed its form and its shape. We did it every year in July. And I started it very honestly because there was nothing going on in July. The clubs were all dead. Nobody was doing anything. Everybody was on vacation. There was nothing to read. Finding a good story was hard. And I started it with the idea of really having a group of kind of in-house women who would help to give me direction from the community on what it was that they really needed to see in their paper. So I got all of those programs that we did for all of those years.
Kasper: Now these were programs you held on behalf of the paper and you invited women from the community—
Castleberry: Um hum. What I did was to invite twelve women from throughout this community. We chose them cutting across every socio, economic and ethnic line we could. Now, at first we were not allowed to have black people. The first black woman that I ever invited was the wife of one of the Dallas Cowboys. [Laughter.] You use whatever techniques you have to use to get where you want to go. And so we invited the women in and they were all ages from grandmothers down to new brides. At first I didn't have a single woman head of household because that was not a significant thing at the time. But pretty soon we began to look at that too. What we would do, the whole staff got involved in this. After the first one, it was so successful, the whole staff got involved in it and I had a little folder in my desk drawer that said, "I think this woman would be a good panelist," and gave her name and address and a little bit about her. And they would come in from whatever assignments they were on and drop these things in the barrel. And just about six weeks before panel every summer we would lay a city map out on the desk and take out all these pieces of paper and cut across every line we could cut across and invite the women to come participate.
Kasper: And when they came, what did they talk about?
Castleberry: And the letter would say something like this. It would say: "The Dallas Times Herald and its women's news staff considers you an outstanding woman in the community." That was about the first paragraph. "And because of this, we invite you to participate for a full day in a program where we can learn how you manage your life, and maybe help you learn from other women who are equally involved, some of the things that you want to do with your life." So what we would do is start out in the morning. We would talk about—I learned more things from that group of women. We would start out with simple things like how—we would gentle them to begin with. We started out with coffee in the early morning, greeted each other and had them sitting around the board room table and we talked about how you actually manage your day. What do you do when you first get up in the morning? Who gets up first? Who puts the coffee on? How do you get your kids started? What are some of the techniques that you use to make your home a positive place? And then we would go from that, we would spend maybe thirty minutes talking about how you arrange the house for the convenience of the family members.
Two of the things that I learned in those sessions I still do. One of them is that when you do your laundry, you fold all of the sheets that go on a single bed together and put them on your laundry shelf folded together, pillowcases and both sheets folded together so you don't have to search. Another thing that I learned that I used with my children that people thought they were poor little kids because they'd have them, but it was wonderful. I could never keep up with socks. So we bought all white socks and we put them all in a basket. I never mated a sock after they told me at homemaker panel not to. [Laughter.]
Kasper: It sounds like Judith Viorst, you know the writer? Judith Viorst has raised three sons and the way she had her sock strategy in her house was one son wore only blue socks; one wore only brown; and one wore only yellow.
Castleberry: Well, we all wore only white. And if they wanted something else, then they had to buy them out of their own allowance and take care of them themselves. But, you know, I handled the laundry, but I did not mate socks. That was one of the things mother didn't do. And some of my friends thought that my children were poor little kids because I didn't mate their socks for them.
But you asked what else we talked about. As the years went on, we began to talk about—oh, another thing that was so neat about that panel, after that first one, every—
and we made it important for them. We took them to lunch at either a fine hotel or when the Dallas Press Club was exceptional, I took them to the Press Club for lunch. And we would have community leaders meet us there for lunch so that they would get to know who they were. Building bridges, building bridges.
Kasper: Now, the point of this was that women you identified in the community, you wanted them not only to feel that they were important to the community, but you wanted to stimulate their interest in doing more for the community. Was that part of it too?
Castleberry: Yeah. Well, that's part of it, but mostly it was simply a process of learning from each other. There are so many facets to this, and one of them, well, two of them that I want to mention. Shortly after the first one, my management said to me, now this is okay—
Kasper: Why did management underwrite this in the first place? They thought it was good publicity for the paper or something?
Castleberry: Well, I guess so. I did do a pretty good selling job, I think.
Kasper: You got away with murder, basically, at the Dallas Times Herald. That's what Molly Ivins told me.
Castleberry: That's right. But it was so good for them. You see, I had to do something that was good for them. But we royally entertained the women, made them feel good about themselves, and then after that first one, in the afternoon, I would invite back everybody that had ever participated in the one before, so it was cumulative. And it was so wonderful because I had women calling each other for support.
Kasper: So you began the network of women in Dallas with these panels, is what you're saying.
Castleberry: Well, it was one of the things that happened. And one of the fascinating things was how good it was for the paper. I'll give you a specific. One day a plane fell in a schoolyard out in near North Dallas and I remembered instantly that one of my panelists lived right next door to that school. And I was on the telephone to her and she was feeding information to me at the paper about what was going on on that schoolyard before we could get a reporter out there, or before the police could even report on it. And it happened often, not anything else that dramatic, but there were all—I could pick up the phone and call a woman in any section of this community and find out what was going on in that community because I already had built this trust level. And this was particularly significant then as the civil rights movement moved in because I was there the first day the people sat in at H.L Greens when they were trying to integrate the lunch counter.
Kasper: So how did this network work during the civil rights movement?
Castleberry: Well we had already built a kind of trust system in different parts of the community where—
Kasper: With black women as well as white.
Castleberry: Oh, yeah.
Kasper: So black women knew white women and vice versa so that you were instrumental—
Castleberry: And see, I don't want to be—I want to be very clear about this. I wasn't the only one that was doing it because the National Council of Jewish Women had been doing that for years, had been trying to build these bridges, different ones. And the first time that the Jewish women and the black women got together for dialogue sessions years ago, like some thirty years ago, in this community. And I tried to get them to let me come and they said I couldn't come because my face wasn't black and I—
Kasper: And my religion wasn't Jewish.
Castleberry: —wasn't Jewish and they wouldn't let me come. So one day they were having a meeting at a friend's house and I called her up and I said, "I'm going to come to your house. If I need to paint my face black and change my name to Castleberrystein, I will do it. But I'm going to be there because I want to know what's going on." And so she said, "Sure." She laughed and said sure. And also, along about that time, I became kind of a token white in some meetings I covered. I was the only white at an all black conference at Bishop College, and that's a learning experience that every human being needs.
Kasper: So how do you feel this network impacted on the civil rights movement here in Dallas. Explain when you talk about building bridges and networking and black women knowing white women, what difference did it make?
Castleberry: I will have to say to you, I don't know. I mean, I have to be honest. I don't know what difference it made. I know what I feel and what I think. I know, for instance, that when the first black man, George Allen, who should have been named mayor pro tem and wasn't, that our black community was most unhappy as well they should have been.
Kasper: He was a black man.
Castleberry: He's a black man and he should have been named mayor pro tem and they passed him over for another white male. And a lot of us were on the telephone that night into the wee hours of the next morning talking. And I really think that at that particular moment there could have easily been a civil rights uprising in the community that would have triggered some things that we have seen in other parts of the country, some violence, if we hadn't been on the phone talking to each other and sincerely, because we'd already built the trust level, sincerely making our friends who happened to be black know that they were not alone in their frustration.
Kasper: Not only not alone, but that they had the support—
Castleberry: They had the support of a lot of us.
Kasper: —of white people who believed in them and believed in their rights, their progress.
Castleberry: Believed that this was not the proper and right or appropriate thing to have happen. And I never made apologies for those things we didn't do. As I dealt with the mother of the black bride, I dealt with everything that way. This is not right, it is not just, I never try to qualify or justify, I just said, there are some things out of my control. I'm working on it. And I'll keep on working on it.
And then, also, I did one of the things that was a lot of fun, and that was I learned to bide my time about some things, that I wasn't going to get it all done tomorrow, and I could be patient. And most of the time that meant that you were patient until the big boss went out of town.
Kasper: What did you do when the big boss went out of town?
Castleberry: Well, one thing I did when the big boss went out of town, I covered the first integrated neighborhood in the community. And it was a glorious neighborhood, and I went out and they had worked very hard to make this work. And it was a small pocket of a neighborhood that was bounded on the north by Lovers Lane and on the east by Inwood, and on the south, I believe, by Mockingbird Lane and on the west, by Harry Hines, probably. I'll have to look back in my notes to be sure. But I called it a small postage stamp of Dallas with one corner torn off. And that's exactly what it looked like when you looked on the city map. And the neighborhood in there integrated very quietly. And the white people who were in there they called community, you know, neighborhood meetings and welcomed the black people who moved in.
The people who called me about it were—well, Jody Furnish called me about it. Her husband, Victor, was on the staff at the school of theology at SMU and they had just bought a house in the neighborhood and had learned that some black people were looking at the house next door and started right away making it safe for people
to get together. So they would have meetings in their home with different people and talk about all of the neat things that could come of having their children grow up in blended neighborhoods. So they invited me out to one of their meetings and I went and I just sort of started biding my time to see how long it was going to take before I could do a story on this. Finally came the day that I went out and the children, I shall never forget it—
Kasper: Who had to leave town? Jim Chambers had to leave town? Or Felix McKnight? Or everybody?
Castleberry: Practically the whole crowd left town.
Kasper: Bert Holmes. Everybody left.
Castleberry: No, Bert was there. He wasn't—
Kasper: You haven't mentioned Charlie Dameron. Did he have to leave town too?
Castleberry: No. Well, Charlie would have had to leave town. I don't want to say this on tape.
Kasper: You don't want to say this on tape? I'll turn it off. [Tape interruption.]
Castleberry: So, anyway, I wrote the story called "Neighborhood Power" and it came out on a Sunday with a black hand and a white hand reaching across the top of the page, clasped.
Kasper: Do you remember what year this was approximately?
Castleberry: No, but I've got a copy of it in my file.
Kasper: I'd love to see it.
Castleberry: And the interesting thing was that it won a state writing award later for me. And what was so interesting was that when my management came back to town, they just weren't real sure about that. They didn't know what had hit 'em. And so it was always kind of fun to have someone present me an award for something they hadn't approved of when it was done.
Kasper: That wasn't the only time that happened either was it?
Castleberry: Oh, no, unh unh.
Kasper: Can you think of a few more examples before I move along here?
Castleberry: Yeah, there was one other dramatic example that I don't know why I didn't get fired for. The Dallas County Juvenile Home was on Knight Street and it was overcrowded. I can't remember how many children were in it. It was probably approved for—it was a big old rambling house, and it had been approved for probably, let's say twelve and there was something like twenty in it, I'm not real sure of those numbers at all, but terribly overcrowded. One tired, middle-aged couple as house parents and two lethargic women helping with these children. And all of them were wards of Dallas County and some of them had been through terrible physical abuse and their condition was extremely bad and I did not write that story. I assigned the story and I followed it all the way through and went with the reporter to the house and checked everything out for myself to be sure that we were very—I was very confident that we had all of our facts straight and checked with everybody. We went out to that house on an August afternoon when it was 107. There was no air conditioning. The children's shoes were in a bushel basket in an open closet where they all had to come and fend for them. Their clothing was in a terrible state. The tired, worn-out housemother was in the kitchen rocking a child and sweating all over and just—I mean, the conditions just under—in civilized, affluent Dallas just couldn't be any worse for that particular type of thing.
I started to leave that day and a little boy about four or five followed me out and sat on the end of the porch while I was saying good-bye to the house mother and thanking her for letting us come. He went sat on the end of the porch and I could tell that he was really troubled and I went down and sat by him and he threw his arms around me and clung tight and said, "Don't leave me. Take me with you." He just begged and cried for me to take him with me. And so I talked and I talked and I humored him and did my best to get him to calm down and kept telling him I could not take him, as much as I would like to, I could not take him. And he finally started sobbing, he said, "I want my mother. I want my mommy." And that child had been burned with cigarettes by his mother. So it was that kind of thing that we had walked into. So we came out one Sunday morning with the first of a series of stories which meant that we were committed. And the stories began, "The children are crying on Knight Street, crying for parents who are not there, crying for things that Dallas could give them but hasn't."
Kasper: What a bombshell.
Castleberry: And we went on from there and the commissioners on the Dallas County Commissioners Court that had not been to that place probably ever were there Monday morning before we could get our papers open. And that was another one that almost blew the top off this community. But we got a new juvenile home out of it soon—very soon. It did not take long for them to move those children out of that anguished place.
Kasper: What did management say on Monday morning when this article first appeared? Were you called into anybody's office?
Castleberry: No, I wasn't called into anybody's office at all. They just looked at me like, well, you did it again. What am I going to do with you now? And see, I knew this. I knew it was going on, but I couldn't stop it.
Kasper: You couldn't stop yourself.
Castleberry: I couldn't stop myself. I couldn't stand it. So, anyway, that's two of them.
Kasper: Well, let me move back to where we were a little bit earlier when we talked about staff. I'm kind of interested in your management style and the fact that you had inherited the staff and you kept most of it. Now, what changes did you institute as time went on? Did you change personnel and hire like-minded women like yourself?
Castleberry: I tried not to. I tried constantly to hire people who were gifted and who could take the talents that they had and develop them to their own best. And I tried constantly to hire people who were interested in different things. I didn't want like-minded people. I wanted people who were willing to grow and I hired one young woman one time who now is one of the best medical reporters in the city, works for the medical school.
Kasper: What's her name?
Castleberry: Her name at the time was Susan Michero, she's now Susan Rutherford. And she had graduated from college in art and I very badly needed somebody who could do page layouts because I won some awards for page layout, but I'm not a page layout person. I learned by trial and error and doing, and what type would fit where and which pictures look good here, and whatever. So I don't consider myself an expert and I wanted somebody who had a real inclination for that. Her writing was very lean at the time. She wasn't a writer and didn't even pretend to be, but she was really good in the other area and had the potential of learning to be a writer. And so I hired her with the understanding that she would be a beginning reporter and that she would have to report on all the routine things that came along, start her out just as a neophyte learning how to do things. But then her strong suit would be helping me to really shape the pages into artistic creations. Well Susan hadn't been working for me very long and she came in one day and in utter exasperation she said, "Why do you hire bright, sharp people and then try to immediately turn them into something that's different." And I looked at her and I said, "Susan, every profession has it's vocabulary. Every profession has basic things that one must learn,
and that's what I'm trying to teach you, and I hope that you are going to be willing to learn because you are too bright to give up on." And so now she is one of the best medical reporters that the medical school has and she, I think, did it and she's also had breast cancer. She may be one that would be fascinating for you to talk with because of her medical background.
Kasper: She's at Southwestern?
Castleberry: She's at Southwestern. And she went from there—she married. When Susan left me, she married and she and young husband were going to Europe to bum around—
[End Tape 2, Side A; Begin Tape 2, Side B]
Castleberry: She wanted me to promise her that when she got back if there was a job open, that she could have it. And I said, "Susan, I'm not going to promise you that." I said, "I think it is time that you grew. I think it is time that you took your talents and did something else. I will promise you this, I will give you the best recommendation that you can possibly imagine. And I will bless you on your way." And, I said, "Also, there may be a situation where I would just love to have you back, but I want you to consider that this is your way to greater growth." And sure enough, she never asked for her job back. She went to Europe, bummed around for a year, had a wonderful time, came back, had a child and then went to work for the medical school and she's been there a long, long time.
Kasper: So you had, in terms of management, you had hiring and firing privileges. Did you have any control over the budget and other kinds of things?
Castleberry: Not a lot. The only control that I had over budget was that I could ask for what I thought it was going to take to run the ship for a year. And usually didn't get it.
Kasper: How much less did you get?
Castleberry: Oh, I would say half of what I had asked for and I learned that pretty soon, so I knew how to—I deplore games. I deplore playing games and I despise having to manipulate and I despise padded budgets. But you have to live in the real world so I learned really quickly how to do things that were okay. I also eventually, after a while, I learned to have a great deal of respect for my company's bottom line. At first, I didn't have a lot of that because I was a visionary and a dreamer and I know, and I still know, that anything you want to do is possible and it doesn't require money to do it. I know that because I've done that. But, I realize that I'm not living in other peoples' real world when I say that, so I respect the way they feel about money and I'm very cautious with spending money. I'm too cautious with spending money. I know that my expense accounts were never what, say, the sports editors were, or any other editor for that matter, and I know that my travel expenses were always less than. And I also know several times I was told by people, "Don't make us look bad, you know, turn in more expenses. Don't make us look bad."
Kasper: Did you ever bring your staff salary up to par with the other departments of the paper?
Castleberry: I didn't. It was done probably after I was out. When Tom Johnson came from the Los Angeles Times and bought the paper—
Kasper: What year was that, do you remember?
Castleberry: Gosh, I don't remember. I sure don't.
Kasper: Sixties or seventies?
Castleberry: Seventies. But I don't remember when. When the Los Angeles Times bought the paper, that was the first thing Tom Johnson did was to work on salaries. And you would have to ask him, but I have a suspicion that he found a disgraceful discrepancy in men's salaries and women's.
Kasper: You don't know what they were, but you know they were—
Castleberry: I don't know what they were, but I know that we were all working for less money than we should have. I know that it was a disgrace what we were paid.
Kasper: What the women were paid.
Castleberry: Un huh, what the women were paid. And that was because what we were doing—we were not valued and what we did was not valued, but it was valued by the community, so, you know, I can live with that.
Kasper: As we move on, one of the things I wanted to ask you, too, was so much of all of this that you pioneered—did you feel that you had any mentors, people you could look to? I realize that's probably not an accurate—?
Castleberry: Yeah, it's an accurate thing. But, yes and no. And when I say that, my mentors were not in my field. There were no journalists that I really could look to. I admired and respected the Marie Andersons and those people, but they were too far removed from me physically to be much of mentors. Most of my mentors were from books. First, my mother, who had made it all possible. And then I grew up on Amelia Earhart, and although I never wanted to fly, never desired to fly, what she did just blew me away. And I read everything I could get my hands on on her from the time I was a child and she first started making a mark in the world. Eleanor Roosevelt. I read everything. I used to think when I would read "My Day" in the paper that came to the country where we lived, I would read that and I would think, nothing is going on here, but I could not wait to get my hands on it to read it.
Kasper: "My Day" was her column.
Castleberry: It was her little column and it was just a little nothing, I mean, it was like, "I welcomed the press today," you know, it was so short and brief.
Kasper: But she was symbolic to you.
Castleberry: But she was symbolic. And I thought she was exquisite. I thought she was absolutely beautiful at a time when other people were talking about how ugly that woman is. And to me she personified everything that I thought women ought to become.
Kasper: And what was that?
Castleberry: To do anything in the world that you wanted to do.
Kasper: To be independent, free-minded.
Castleberry: Independent. Free-minded. To combine career and family, to have it all. To have it all.
Kasper: And to be clear on knowing that you want that.
Castleberry: That's right. And then, later on, Margaret Mead. I read her autobiography and cried because—
Kasper: Blackberry Winter?
Castleberry: Blackberry Winter. The things that she said in there, you know, it just struck so home with me. I was a very much wanted first child and that has shaped me for all of my life. And I did have some wonderful experiences with Margaret Mead. She came to speak at one of our Times Herald women's forums in the September club meeting as a keynote speaker back many years ago, came at our invitation to speak. And I got to know her and she was every bit as marvelous as I had anticipated she would be.
And another thing, along the way, of all the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful women that I have met, I have met very few light-weights, very few. There are, and I think all of us know who they are, but most of the women who have made it to where they are today are so generous with their time, generous with themselves.
You mentioned a few minutes ago about seeing the picture of Lily Tomlin in there, and I wanted to tell you that funny story because Lily Tomlin did not want to see me because, again, it's one of those situations where a women's editor, you know, you come over to the great public out there as a little gray-haired busy body. And so she had said, no, that she wouldn't—
Kasper: This was when she was in town performing?
Castleberry: She was in town performing and she wasn't going to see me, but she was going to make a public appearance for one of our women's events in town. And I had asked for an interview with her ahead of time so that I could kind of get a feeling of who she was, what she was going to say. I always went to the person, in the person's setting, if I possibly could because you just don't get the story otherwise. So, I had asked for and it had been declined. It had been declined two or three times and I kept pressing. And finally she said, "Well, tell her," I guess, this is the message that came back to me, "Tell her I'll give her fifteen minutes before I have to leave for the meeting." And I said, "Okay, that's enough. That's just fine. I'll be glad to." So I walked into the room and waited for her and she sailed in like the star that she could be. And I extended both hands and I said, "Thank you so much for coming to Dallas, the women here need you." And she utterly and completely melted. And an hour later, I had to make her leave to go to her assignment, to make her public appearance. She told me everything I ever wanted to know and then some. She was gorgeous. And I have found that is true of most women. I can point out, I had mentioned previously that I never felt that I got the story of Pat Nixon. I think I came close once, and this was in a press conference, just a regular press conference, and I said to her, "Mrs. Nixon, if you could do anything in the world that you wanted to do right now, what would you be doing?" And for just a second the barrier came down and she said, "Oh, if I could be doing anything in the world I wanted to do, I would be home with Julie and Trish." And then that facade came down again and she—
Kasper: Probably only to be raised immediately a few minutes later. No private persona, all public.
Castleberry: And it was like chiseling away at someone who is set in plastic.
Castleberry: And the strange thing is, I don't think she really is. I think there's a woman under there. And it is frustrating—
Kasper: But buried so deeply.
Castleberry: —to the nth degree that you can't find the person who is under there.
Kasper: Tell me, who are, in turn, we talked about some of the women who you feel were mentors or important in one way or another, who do you feel that in turn you as a journalist nurtured, the women who came or who were coming after you in this process? Maybe some that you hired or some that you influenced in other ways?
Castleberry: Gosh, I don't know. I don't think we ever—let me answer that as honestly as I possibly can, and that is, I don't think we ever know where the ripples end. And I have never been concerned with that. What I know because people have told me, I could give you names of some of the people that have said, "You meant a lot to me at a certain time in my life."
Kasper: Well, you can mention those. I think you're just being modest.
Castleberry: No, but it's not—no, it's not modesty. I would be really honest if I could think of it. But what it is is dropping ripples and watching them go out and never knowing where they're going to end. It's like being a journalist. Because when you're sitting there in the quiet silence in front of that computer and you're sending out these words, you don't know where it's going. You don't know what kind of impact it's going to make. But what I have consistently reminded myself of is that it is a self-integrity that I've got to be true to the kernel of who I am. This is something I've got to do. And it's really very selfish.
When you get down to it, it's something I've got to do. And where it ends up I don't know.
I know that along the way such people as Julia Sweeney and Maggie Kennedy and Susan Rutherford and Dorothy Fagg. [Note added by V. Castleberry: Mary Ann Lane was assistant women's editor for much of the time I was there and absolutely perfect as a team. Where I was a visionary, Mary Ann was practical. I dreamed in panavision and technicolor and on the wide-wide screen. And Mary Ann made it all fit onto the page. Or tried to. Sometimes our immortal words hit the cutting room floor.]
Let me think, Graydon Heartsell, who died a couple of weeks ago, was very special to me. Yvonne Saliba Pendleton. All of those people that I hired. Yvonne was fashion editor after Graydon and she had large shoes to fill and just did it magnificently, was a totally different kind of person than what Graydon was, and so professional. And now runs her own public relations outfit in town. I know those people, I've nurtured personally in staff meetings and tried to open the options for them, and I think that they know that. I think they all felt that. And Ann Zimmerman, who I didn't hire, she was hired by someone else, but she has become very, very special to me. Marcia Smith, I didn't hire, but she was on the staff and I respect and admire her writing so much and her ability and I think she knows this and I think it matters. And then there's all that crowd of people who are my wider family, not only my own children, but their friends, and then the Dallas community that has been extremely supportive.
Kasper: I see that kind of as a another section that we'll cover either later today or tomorrow, your outreach and community work. How was the women's panel that you mentioned just a few minutes ago, was that the same thing as Women Newsmakers?
Castleberry: These are different.
Kasper: Can you describe each one of those for me.
Castleberry: I came on to Women Newsmakers later. It suddenly, it had become increasingly clear to me that the women new shapers in the community were—their pictures never got in the paper. There was no way to—except when we put them in, there was no way to really cite these people as being outstanding community people. So we instigated a number of years ago to start the new year by choosing the outstanding women in the community and holding them up to applause.
Kasper: Gail Smith told me that when she was cited by you as a Woman Newsmaker that year that she was cited it was probably the most important confidence builder that she ever had in her life. She said she was a young mother at the time. She was, yes, interested in getting more involved in the community but she had very little self-confidence. And she was at home with a baby. And she always knew that she had more ability, but having been cited that year, she said, was probably the most important propulsion and confidence builder she'd ever had in her life to do more with herself as a person than she could have ever had.
Castleberry: Gee, that's wonderful to know because that was the purpose of the whole thing. What we looked for were people not only who were doing it, but who had the potential for just blossoming out into the community. And it was a hard thing to do because—and that's where I took my men into confidence too.
Kasper: Was it the management?
Castleberry: The management.
Kasper: They supported this, didn't they.
Castleberry: They supported it. And what we would do, we would find them, the women's news staff would find them and give them thumb nail sketches and then we let the men have equal final vote. I don't mean superior final vote, but equal final vote so that—and they kind of enjoyed themselves. They kind of enjoyed this.
Kasper: You're a scream. I mean you're just a scream. You realize you didn't give them veto power and you didn't run it past them either. But you made them look like
they were in cahoots with you so that you probably fooled them into believing that they had some real hand in this when all of you did the selecting, you had an equal vote with them, it was already in place. I mean, Vivian Castleberry, you're something else all together. I love it. You probably just pulled it right past them and they didn't even know what was happening.
Castleberry: Well, what was so funny was that it, you know, as time went on, I have to tell you that, as time went on, all of these programs that I built were torn down, just before I left there.
Kasper: Torn down by whom?
Castleberry: By management. The new management that came in. The Times Herald Newshapers that we did for a long time, several years—
Kasper: The Women's Newshapers?
Castleberry: Women's Newshapers, we called them. And the reason for that was that management decided that the newspaper should not be in a role of picking one person over another, or that's the excuse they gave me.
Kasper: Now, were these the same as the Women Newsmakers or was the Women's Newshapers something else?
Castleberry: I changed them to Newshapers from Newsmakers because there was that shady—
Kasper: But it was basically the same thing.
Castleberry: It's the same thing exactly. And then the Times Herald panel was stopped because new management said that a newspaper should be in the role of reporting the news and not making it. And we were making news by calling the women together and creating a climate in which things took place.
Kasper: What happened in these panels and who were the women that were called together to serve on it? What was the Dallas Times news panel?
Castleberry: The panel was the twelve women that we chose every year to talk about who they are, where they want to go, who they are and how they want to get there, and whatever. And that was the one that I re-invited the last ones who had been there before.
Kasper: So those were the same as the homemaker panel and you just shortened it.
Kasper: I just want to make sure I'm not missing any institutions here that you've managed to build.
Castleberry: No, you're not missing anything. And I think, too, to be very honest with you, I think, too, I had grown tired in pushing. I think I may have won new management over if I had had the energy to go to bat for some of these things. But it seemed to me so obviously clear that it was a good thing, that it should be kept up, that I was really tired. It took enough time and energy to do it.
Kasper: And what you had said to me earlier, too, was that there was with consistency so much inconsistency in management, that it changed hands so often, and with each new influx of management you had to convince all over again that what you were doing was important.
Castleberry: That's right. We started back at the starting gate and we proved our mettle. We started back at the beginning. And also there was this kind of framework of reference in this town, Anne, that was not comfortable to live with, and that was the framework of reference for anybody who came in here, was simply that if it happened in Dallas, Texas, it couldn't be any damn good.
Kasper: Now where did that framework come from?
Castleberry: It came from the Kennedy assassination. And it entrenched everything that went on here.
Kasper: So that when management came in, they believed it too.
Castleberry: When management came in, they believed it and they also believed, there was another facet to that, and they also believed that if you were any good as a reporter you wouldn't still be here. So you had to live that down. And I may be overstating it, but that's my truth as I saw it at the time and it was very difficult to live with that. I not only was running a staff that I had to buoy up and bolster their morale every day of the week to keep them going and enthusiastic about what they were doing, but I was having to reinvent it for myself every day that what I was doing was valuable and valid.
Kasper: About what time period did you begin to feel that this was wearing on you?
Castleberry: When I had cancer, ten years ago, nine years ago.
Kasper: In the late seventies.
Castleberry: As I explored my way through cancer and cancer treatment, it dawned on me—it didn't dawn on me, I had known it all along—but it became clear that it was taking its toll on my physical and emotional health.
Kasper: To keep this battle up at the paper.
Castleberry: To keep the battle up and to—and that at that stage there were more things that were more important for me to do and that on the one hand I was giving up a vehicle where I thought I could do some good for people. And see I also had to remember all of the time—as my husband kept pointing out to me, "Who do you think you are to disturb their comfort?" He kept pointing this out to me and it was a real—
Kasper: Their comfort, meaning management's comfort?
Castleberry: Meaning management, meaning this community. Who do you think you are to disturb their comfort? And that was a hard question for me to answer. The first time he asked that question it had to do with the homemaker panel which later became the women's panel. As my feminism grew, well I stopped calling it a homemaker panel and started calling it a women's panel because it was by women themselves. Also, I want to say one other thing about the women's panel. My management would tell me every year that they would bless and condone what we were doing and some part of management team would come up and make the introductory welcoming address every year, when the women first got there, and this sort of thing, and blessed them on their way. But every year, my management would say to me, "Now, be sure and find—include in this some woman who really is a traditional homemaker who enjoys being at home, who really enjoys the process of just rearing children and whatever. Every year I would very carefully pick her. At least one. Sometimes more than one. Every year we would just her mind. [Laughter.] And she would go away wondering what hit her.
Kasper: And you probably created a new convert every year.
Castleberry: Every year. And everybody came into the women's movement through the Times Herald panel. If they ever participated, they were never the same again because we talked about what our potential is in this world. We talked about where we need to hold power. Where we need to take the power that we have, how we use it, how we increase it, how we include other women. We were always, I always struggled for inclusiveness. And in variety, the great variety—we did things like a mother-daughter panel one year. We changed the format every year to try to keep up with the times. We did not deal with social issues per se because they were being dealt with elsewhere.
Kasper: What do you mean social issues per se?
Castleberry: Well, we didn't have a panel, say, on wife abuse. Or we didn't have a panel on rape.
Kasper: No, you focused on the women themselves and those subjects came up.
Castleberry: We focused on the women themselves and then we allowed them to discuss the issues. And sometimes it really, there were a few occasions where I wished that I had a trained counselor in the session because somebody would say something that would blow a woman's mind and she would wind up in tears. And so I did have an incredible amount of training in how to mother and nurture people where you'd hit a vulnerable spot. And one woman in particular that I remember went away from panel—at the panel, she didn't say much. She didn't say much. She didn't say a lot that day. She was kind of quiet. She was a traditional homemaker. She was at home with four little children. She left the panel and wrote me a long letter saying, "You think you did me a service. You ruined my life." And she went on to outline the kinds of things that had happened to her and so I felt real bad about this until the next year when she showed up again and said, "You started me to thinking like I have never thought before." She wound up divorcing the so and so.
Kasper: That she was married to.
Castleberry: That she was married to who didn't ever, I mean, who was keeping her virtually under emotional lock and key, and declaring her independence and going on to be a very self-supporting, supportive woman.
Kasper: Tell me, about the time of the late sixties and early seventies when the women's movement started going, where was the women's section or the "Living" section at that point, and in its transformation. Did you still have a fashion editor and a food editor and so forth?
Castleberry: Yes, we did.
Kasper: You did. You still had them.
Castleberry: But we were focusing on what women were doing in the world. We were focusing on women's issues. We were covering everything.
Kasper: What were the issues you were covering?
Castleberry: We were covering well—
Kasper: Abortion to "Z", "A" to "Z."
Castleberry: Oh, yeah. "A" to "Z."
Kasper: What were some of those in the alphabet there that you remember?
Castleberry: Let's go look.
Kasper: Let's go look. Okay. [Tape interruption.]
Okay. With bad foot and all we have moved into this other room and we've brought the tape recorder because we're going to read off some of the topics.
Castleberry: Some of the topics that we covered. Okay. Beginning with abandoned mother and child; abortion; adoption; agoraphobia; Alzheimer's; the Anesa method of education; anorexia nervosa; autism; burnout; the blended family; two-career couples; cancer—I've got so much on cancer it fills a whole drawer; child abuse; child care—and there are probably ten folders on child care; and then child custody; health and wellness; joint custody; child guidance; children's rights; corporate care—there's a great light. I became the child care reporter by attrition, nobody else was doing it; the Commission on the Status of Women, 1984; CUB—Concerned United Birth Parents.
Kasper: And some of these issues go back to as early as the fifties when you began covering these.
Castleberry: Oh, yeah, sure they do. Some of these folders are so old that they're almost falling apart. Depression—that was mental depression in women; diabetes; a personal memoir that was my own story of suffering depression; diabetes; displaced homemakers; divorce and its impact; Downs syndrome; dreams and their meaning.
Kasper: And we've only gotten to the "D's."
Castleberry: Drugs and alcohol. I know we're only to the "D's."
Kasper: In that first file drawer.
Castleberry: But we kept this up for years. Epidermis—I can't even pronounce it now.
Kasper: What is that?
Castleberry: I could pronounce it fine at the time.
Kasper: But that should be something I should know if it's a medical—
Castleberry: It is. It's something you should know. It's medical. It's very medical. Okay. I'll read some more while you do that, okay?
Kasper: This has to do with blister babies?
Castleberry: Un huh. Blister babies.
Kasper: Now this is an article you wrote in 1982. It's called "Blister Baby. Mother keeps seeking the unknown cure." "Linda first remembers her gnawing uneasiness when nobody brought her newborn baby to her room at Parkland Hospital when all the other mothers were seeing theirs. It was January 21, 1979. She was eighteen, had just given birth to a son and was eager to meet him. 'I was very young,' Linda says, 'but toward the end of the pregnancy I got very excited about having the baby. People would ask if I wanted a boy or a girl and I would just say I wanted a healthy baby. Brandon was three hours old when I finally got a nurse to tell me that something was wrong. She said when they were cleaning him up in the delivery room his skin broke out in blisters.' Brandon Furst has a rare genetic disease. A form of epidermolysis belosa. It is characterized by cysts, blisters and lesions that erupt from the skin wherever it is irritated and almost everything irritates it." Good heavens. I have never even heard of that.
Castleberry: Really, well, it was not a fun story to cover.
Kasper: No, it sounds like that was very painful.
Castleberry: But the medical school called me and asked me if I would do this and open up the options and I was glad to. Epilepsy; the ERA-Pro and Con—several folders on that. Here's a very thin folder, it's entitled "Men seeking equality relationships"—and that's because a man called me and said that all this stuff that I was doing, that there were men in this world who really wanted equality relationships with women and I said, "Well, if you would just get me some of those men together, I'll come out and talk with them." So, he did, and I did and this is the result, and as you can see, the folder's very thin. [Laughter.]
Kasper: Did you write the article that's in here?
Castleberry: Un huh.
Kasper: Let's see this. Okay. I see there's an article here by Vivian Castleberry, Women's Editor, and the title of it is "Equality—How Far Do Men Want to Go." And it was written 10/4/1980 and there are several pictures here of some young men and some not so young men. And she starts out by saying, "Many men say they desire relationships of equality with women, but the past often dies hard for both men and women. For many men equality stops with the dirty dishes and the dirty diapers.
For many women, it stops when the car stalls on the freeway and when the kitchen sink stops up. 'Men want to date modern women,' wrote Nickey Scott in a newspaper column "Working Woman," 'but they want old-fashioned wives.' 'But times are changing,' says Pat Pearson a Dallas counselor whose private practice deals largely with singles. Men have been sacrificed on the altar of machismo as much as women have been sacrificed on the altar of dependence. Strong men and women see in each other the ultimate liberation for both sexes. Nobody wants to be liberated and alone. 'The growing edge for men,' she said, 'is recognition that they lose nothing by choosing a strong woman. All they give up is manipulation.'" Nice.
Castleberry: Well, it was a fun thing to do because what came out of it was that most of these men who sat for this interview then went on to doing their own machismo thing after that. We were doing articles on exchange students—we did quite a lot of that; executive women of Dallas; family court counselors; family law; families that work; the founding of the Family Place—which is our home for abused wives; male batterers; feminism; fight against the far right; fathers with custody; foster care; foster grandparents; freedom from religion; Free People's Foundation; freedom to choose the medical treatment that you want; medical treatment and health care; goals for Dallas; grandparents' rights—which is fairly a new thing; handicapped; heart-to-heart; hepatitis; herpes—I'll never forget the first time I got into this, one of my friends called me and said, "Why haven't you ever written on herpes. My daughter was just diagnosed with it and it's breaking our hearts." So I went out to the medical school and we started to work and this is the result.
Kasper: There it is. This is an article by Vivian Castleberry, and again, the Women's Editor, and the title is "Herpes—the venereal disease which has no cure." And it's in the Sunday, April 22, 1979 issue, "Living Section," Section F of the Dallas Times Herald.
Castleberry: Home health service; homemaking—the value of housework; Hope Cottage—adoption agency; emergency hospice; housing; incest; Jewish women; League of Women Voters; LIFT—this is what I was telling you about Margaret Hirsch a little while ago, my Jewish friend who taught Literacy Instruction for Texas, it's named—LIFT; Links—the premiere black women's organization; liver diseases; lupus; marriage counseling; marriage epidemic—that was an interesting story to do.
Kasper: What was the marriage epidemic?
Castleberry: The marriage epidemic was when the first, after couples living together first started trying, beginning really in great numbers to get married throughout this country, that the living together had not worked as well as it was supposed to. So a real epidemic of people getting married; staying married; the Martha movement; men changing roles.
Kasper: Men who moved here from their—?
Castleberry: Men who moved here for their wives' careers; menopause; mercy killings; ministers; the Mondale bill—way back from '75; Montessori—
Kasper: What was the Mondale bill?
Castleberry: The Mondale bill was the child care bill that was killed; mothers without custody; mothers and others against murder—that was mothers of murdered children; Mount St. Michael; moving—what moving does to the family; networking for women; NOW—
Kasper: NOW meaning the National Organization for Women.
Castleberry: Outsider program; parent abuse; parenting; parents of murdered children; pastoral care; Parkinson's disease; pilot home; population; PMS—premenstrual syndrome; there's SANCI—the Society for Abandoned and Neglected Children, Inc.—SANCI; Searchline of Texas—that's a group that helps adopted children find their parents; self-help groups of all kinds; sexual harassment; Southwest Family Institute; suicide; suicide prevention; taking baby home; the tenants' association; Texas Women's University—and then a whole plethora of
information on women—different things that have to do with women and women's centers.
Kasper: Health and women's centers and women's honors.
Castleberry: And those were some of the things we were covering. Okay. [Tape interruption.]
Kasper: We're looking at articles on the homemaker panels.
Castleberry: We're looking at articles on the homemaker panel that later became the Dallas Times Herald Women's Panel and the kinds of things that we covered during—the kinds of topics that we covered, you could almost catalog the changing times by looking at them. Because I was just looking at this one. In 1963 we were talking about old-fashioned remedies for new-fangled problems and we were talking about the impact of the church in community life and the fact that women still went to a lot of ladies luncheons and wore hats and so we had a little fashion show for them and we showed how to do makeup that day and the kinds of things that at that stage in time they were interested in. And then on the second day, on the second day we got around to chores and we listed some of the things that have come down that are still, today, good. What we did was thirty minutes of uninterrupted, just calling out the kinds of things that you do in your house that save time. And these were some of the things: Buy separate colors of towels and washrags for every family member when you replenish your linens—members usually then will be more careful to hang the towel if they know its theirs; keep paper cups in the bathroom for toothbrush rinsing; practice cafeteria open or closed with your children and their friends—open cafeteria means snacks are permissible—closed cafeteria means food is off limits—Kids understand this; use white distilled vinegar to take stains and odors, including perspiration from clothing, carpets and linens; keep a picnic jug of cold water in a handy place for the children to cut down refrigerator door openings and save money; pour ammonia into your pot that has been burned with food on it, it will clean in a jiffy. So it's just a lot of little things that—
Kasper: That's 1963.
Castleberry: 1963, that we were doing. But then, on day 3 we talked about marriage and how to keep a good marriage going, and what to do if one was not going well; recipe for a happy marriage—re-woo and re-win your mate daily. And on the next day we talked about beauty, concentrated on that. And then, the final day, we talked about a more in-depth subject—deeper concerns of Dallas women. "`The emancipation of women has created an upheaval in many American homes. The art of women hating is second to no art in the world today,' one panelist said. `Many of the things women worked for simply aren't worth it,' another noted. `The world tells you, just be yourself, but it never tells you what that means.'" So the kinds of things that they said under these guided questions and answers. One of them was, what does the world demand of women today? And one of the panelists answered, "Be not in the slightest concerned about what the world demands. Be undismayed by what other people think. Put yourself in focus, find out who you are, make it right with your God and your husband and your children in that order, and don't worry about anybody else."
Kasper: Now this is also in 1963. You're beginning to see a change in that last—
Castleberry: Yeah. Well, the whole day you covered a lot of topics in one day's time, and some of them were fluffy and superfluous but some of them were really in-depth and really where it mattered. And then we come up to 1976 and you see a dramatic change. Not only in the program, in the way it looks, in the quality of the program itself.
Kasper: This is the 16th Annual Dallas Times Herald Women's Panel that was held July 1976. And it starts with the ten o'clock program, "The sharing hours—who are you and what makes you unique; how do you spend your time; what do you do that might be beneficial to other women; how do you manage yourself, your money, your housework, your recreation; who are you in relation to others, your family, your career, your community, your world?" And then they move on to an afternoon program and there's a break into six discussion groups with co-leaders and a reporter.
"The session allows all individuals to consider the choices they have made with their lives and options open to them for the future. It's designed to be open-ended so that leaders may bring out the ideas of each participant and so that new thinking may be aired and discussed." And then on this program, which is quite lovely, it has a picture of seven women on the front, underneath the title, which is "Freedom to Choose: The Career Woman versus the Career Homemaker. What have we got against each other?" And then it opens up inside where this program, part of which I have just read, is centered, and then the resource people are listed on the next piece of this centered program. The Times Herald women's news staff: Vivian Castleberry, Dorothy Fagg, Maggie Kennedy, Mary Ann Lane, Wanda McDaniel, Edith McRoberts, Vicky Morgan, Nancy Nielson, Barbara Richardson, Yvonne Saliba and Julia Sweeney. And then I presume as leaders for the afternoon session—
Castleberry: Leaders for the afternoon were the ones that you have just read down here where you're breaking into six discussion groups. Well, each one of those discussion groups had two very carefully chosen leaders and every one of them had participated in a prior panel. So that they not only were professionally qualified to lead these groups, but they knew what the program was all about and what it was we were working toward pulling out. And everyone of these people if you will look, Cherry Carapatyan is now in Austin where she is running a large organization. Ann Chud is in Washington, D.C., where she is with the government approving housing. Lee Douthit is a psychologist. Vicky Downing is a business woman who opened her own business and does business with Third World countries. And Celeste Guerrero is not Hispanic. She was married to a Hispanic and has been a leader in the Hispanic community. Elisabeth Holloway is foreign born, she is from Austria and is an outstanding teacher in the Dallas school system. Paula Jeffers, recently married and moved away from Dallas and I haven't heard from her. Marie Malouf, recently retired from a job where she was pretty much of a trouble shooter for a large department store going all over the southwest solving problems. Bette Moncrief is a fascinating woman. She is now a realtor, but she came up first as a fashion model, and then became a businesswoman, then got into real estate and has made a killing at it. I don't know where Betty is—Betty Schneider.
[End Tape 2, Side B; Begin Tape 3, Side A]
Castleberry: —psychologist in town, she's a Jungian psychologist, also a feminist psychologist in that she is very much—has written a marvelous book on women.
Kasper: And on the back of this program are all the panelists that participated in these panels from 1959 to 1975, and the dates and the year in which they first participated. That's really interesting. You've got extras of these, are you willing to give one away?
Castleberry: Yes. You may have that. I do have extras of these. I don't have extras of all of them.
Kasper: Well, whenever you've got something you're willing to give away, we'd love to take it and put it in with your file in your archives.
Castleberry: Well, I can look through a lot of this stuff and give it to you. And interestingly, I think you might be interested in seeing how they reported, each group had a reporter and—as well as having leaders and participants, they also had very good reporters who were trying to give us back what was going on there. And then from that, I could take and synthesize and come up with the stories.
Kasper: So you would read through these reports and then you would write your stories.
Castleberry: Oh, carefully. Yes. Very carefully. And also in collaboration with my staff members who were there who would help me. Here's the beginning for the '76 panel: "Women must, if they are to remain happy and productive, anticipate the turning points of their lives and be prepared to make reasonably accurate veers in the right direction before they arrive at those critical points. Very young women don't know this and some older women have still not learned it. The 1976 Times Herald Women's Panel participants spoke of these turning points and the preparation for them. Here are their voices."
And this is what they said. "The young woman leaving home should make every effort to weigh pros and cons for what she wants to do with her life and move purposefully in that direction. The woman about to marry should know that she cannot live as an appendage to her husband. If she tries to, she will sap him of his energy and lose her own right to herself. The woman with children must realize that she has only a few short years to shape them and that they must eventually become their own people. She should, as one young woman phrased it, 'be so busy living her own life that she has no time to live the lives of her children.'"
Kasper: Now this is a report from a 1976 panel reported back to the group as a whole.
Castleberry: Yes. Right. "As the nest empties every mother should be consumed with new interests, a job that gives her satisfaction, volunteer work that adds meaning to her life, going back to school for credit or for life enrichment. Before her husband retires, she should have encouraged him to develop interests that will give him new zest for living. If he refuses to do this, then she should structure her own life so that they won't bug the heck out of each other." So those are the kinds of things that we did and it gives you a little bit of a sample of why those things were so significant and I still have women today stop me in shopping centers and say, "Why don't you do another Times Herald panel?" They got just a tremendous amount out of it.
Kasper: And it was after you retired that these came to an end or was it before you retired?
Castleberry: Well they came to an end shortly before I retired because—
Kasper: In the early '80s.
Castleberry: Yes, in the early 80's. New management wasn't really carried away with our continuing to do these things.
Here is another program just for you to look at for a second. I thought that one was an extremely interesting one.
Kasper: This is the Thirteenth Annual Homemaker Panel with a quote from e.e. cummings on the front and a picture of a woman—
Kasper: —fragmented picture, yeah, and inside the title, "Women in Search of the Significant." And the morning program is "What makes you different? What makes you important? How do you get things done? What do you leave undone and why? How do you manage your time, your money, your housework or your recreation? Who are you in relation to others? Husband or family, community and world. Vivian Castleberry, Dorothy Fagg, Maggie Kennedy, Barbara Richardson and Ann Worley will help you explore and share." And so forth.
Castleberry: I was telling you that not all women found it—and, I mentioned a few yards back about this woman who said I had ruined her life and I want to read you a little bit from that letter. I have found it. She said, "This is not a thank you letter. I am sorry that I have no vehicle for expressing myself. Something as simple as speaking fails me at this time and I am left thinking and unable to express what I believe and so it went as a member of your panel. I said I felt phoney. It was a bad way of putting it. I knew it then but it wouldn't come out at that time, but now I've had time to think about it, and I don't care to see the group picture for I won't pretend for one moment that I belonged in it. And if I saw my name in print, I would know that I would bow my head in shame because I simply don't belong." And it went on in that vein and ends up by saying, "I will remember and bring back part of what was said to my children, I am sure, but most of it I will want to forget." That was in August 25, 1970—
Kasper: What do you think she meant by all of that?
Castleberry: I don't know.
Kasper: She attended a panel, a homemaker panel—
Castleberry: She attended the panel as a member and it blew her away of her safe little world.
Kasper: And what this letter reflects is her total confusion after having had her world torn down by participating in your homemaker panel and she hadn't yet put it back together again.
Castleberry: Right. That's right. And this letter then came the following year, in June of 1972. She said, "Dear Vivian. You have a capacity for making people you meet feel important. Thank you for everything. It is unfortunate that whole cities of women cannot be a part of a panel like the one you do. It was invaluable to me as I now have a much clearer vision of who I am as my female self. Admitting that it covered me up the first day when I wrote to you, I have since had a very positive reaction to all of this. Because of the many panels you have put together or have been involved in, you must find that there are repetitions or women that are changing rapidly. Even without hearing your answer, I know that that is true. And that describes somewhat of how the panel affected me. At first, I could not believe it, and then as I thought, it began to make sense. Love, Pat." And of course I wrote to her right away after I got that first one and said that I was really sorry that she had been so confused by it all and trusted that things would get better. And it did.
Kasper: And how about some of these other folders we've pulled, Vivian? These are issue folders and some of those issues have articles—most of them have articles—that were written about the issues that you were covering at the time.
Castleberry: Let's see what this one is up here. This one looks like an old, old folder. It must go way, way back.
Kasper: Is that the custody folder?
Castleberry: This is the correspondence folder, so let's see what's in here. Just real fast.
Kasper: Bombeck? You used to—
Castleberry: Before Erma Bombeck, I wrote an article for years called "Family Style." Mine were certainly not as amusing or funny as hers were, but I had many letters from readers who said, in effect, "Have you been looking through my window?" because it really hit a remarkable nerve in this community of how the kinds of things that happen to people who live in houses with children. And I quit it only when one of my children came home one day and had felt singled out at school. Her teacher had said to her, "Are you the daughter of the woman who writes about you all the time?" And I thought, "Uh oh, I will not put that onus on my children." And so I stopped doing the column. I didn't want people to feel—I wanted my children to grow up as their own people and not to be imposed upon by a mother who used them in print for what might be her—
Kasper: You know, one of the things that occurred to me when we were looking through your files just a few minutes ago is a lot of people would look through those issues and say, oh, those are family issues. Those are just—in fact, they would say, a lot of people would say, those were just family issues. How do you feel about that?
Castleberry: My feeling about this is that they're exactly right. And the family is at the heart of this world and without it, nothing is going to function very long. And what has been so hard for me to understand is that the very things of life that are essential to living, such as the birth of children, the nurturing of children, the care of each other, the food we eat, the gardening we do to make ourselves more comfortable, the environment that we look after—
Kasper: The marriages that we stay in, hold together.
Castleberry: —marriages that we hold together. That these are considered women's issues and that they are denigrated as second class because these are the crux of what our civilization is all about and if we don't have these things, we have nothing. Everything goes down the drain when that glue falls apart. And it is absolutely how we came to a period of time where war and making war is more important than birthing and nurturing children as a part of our civilization or how we came to the time where loving and comforting your mate or someone in trouble or an old person who is dying is not as important as finding the felon on the street or arresting the guy or shooting each other. I can't believe it.
Kasper: So don't you feel that the kind of journalism that you spent twenty-eight years involved with and stayed involved with even after retirement in '84 is the kind of journalism that is the change agent for a better world? Isn't that what your saying? You're not just reporting on so-called "just family issues" and that women's issues aren't just women's issues, but the crux of many of our problems can be changed by the kind of journalism that you were devoted to?
Castleberry: I hope so. I hope so. I hope that we are—and I am convinced that if enough of us saw this vision, if enough women in this country could understand how critical these issues are to the survival of civilization, then we would turn it around. And this is what we have trouble getting across because it has been such a man's world and has been so weighted toward giving value to the things that men think are important that we have totally left out the human element. If we can't quantify it, it doesn't count.
Kasper: Well, and don't you think that your journalism has been in the business of empowering women, and that once women are more thoroughly empowered, they can make those changes to match their vision. Isn't that part of what you're—
Castleberry: That was my intent.
Kasper: Part of your intent. Yes.
Castleberry: Certainly, my intent that women become sufficiently empowered that they not only know they can do it, but they value it. They value what it is they're doing. The world has not valued what women do.
Kasper: And even women haven't valued what they do.
Castleberry: Well, women haven't valued what they do simply because of society's evaluation techniques. And as soon as women begin to understand that what they do is—and the way they feel and the way they think is one-half of the human dimension, then they will begin to value it. But as long as we weigh and measure everything by the standards that are prevailing in our country, then we are just stuck. And breaking that is hard, it's extremely hard.
Kasper: Now, we've got some files here that are what I call issue files—what you call issue files as well. And which one have you just opened now?
Castleberry: This is one that at the University of Missouri they said was really scattered.
Kasper: Oh, the one you were describing with the pictures as a frame.
Castleberry: Un huh. The one I was describing earlier with the pictures around. And with the pictures as a frame. And I still think that was a terrific—
Kasper: And these are pictures of young teenagers and you've written an open letter to every teen queen in the center of this and then it continues on the inside page. And this is November—I can't quite make out the date.
Castleberry: Look on the back.
Kasper: Yes. 1964.
Castleberry: And then this was one that we did that also created quite a hubbub. We explored the Greek sorority system—the Greek system and what it does to young people and the pros and cons. And of course, people who are rich and people who need to be validated by others do not understand that the sorority/fraternity system or the Greek system as it prevails can be very bad for some people.
Kasper: Well, the title of this is "Sorority: Sister or Sinister." And it's in the Living section and the issue is Sunday, September 7, 1969, in the Dallas Times Herald.
Castleberry: This is one that I won a page layout award on, a Press Club award, for this article on "Who Cares for Your Children."
Kasper: This is the Dallas Times Herald, Sunday morning, February 11, 1968, and the title of the article by Maggie Kennedy, who was a staff writer, is "Who Cares for Your Child—The Need for Good Care in Dallas Outreaches the Facilities." Talk about timely. And this is 1968 and we are first, in 1989, addressing the very same issue in the same terms.
Castleberry: Yes, and we've gone backward in so many areas. This one goes way back to 1966 and we did a front page layout on the kinds of difference a church makes. And at the time the church was doing—the church women were doing extremely significant things. They had this topic—their topic was "This Half of the Apple is Mine." And I had two sort of outstanding people in the community to try to take a bite out of each half of their apple. I couldn't get the man to do it, but the woman took a bite out of hers. [Laughter.]
Kasper: He's standing there—he's a cold fish. The title of this article is, "Does the Church Make a Difference?" and it's in the Dallas Times Herald, Sunday, January 16, 1966. And there are some nice pictures of people in the community here.
Castleberry: And, let's see what else there's going to be.
Kasper: I'd be interested in some of the—there was a file here on depression and there was a custody story that I wanted you to talk about as well.
Castleberry: Yes. I don't know whether I'll ever get this put back or not. I may never. This one is not what I thought it was. This particular one is on the Great Depression and that was when my editor asked me on the fiftieth anniversary of the Great Depression to tell what I remembered about it. That's not the one I thought it was.
Kasper: There was an article, you said, you wrote on your own personal depression?
Castleberry: I wrote—what I did was do a series of articles on women in depression—why they were depressed. Of course, they were depressed principally because their life didn't have any meaning. As all of us who have done any exploration at all know, some of this depression is physical, some of it is medical, some of it is a health issue, and at that time that I became interested in it, I had just gone through a personal, terrible depression. And because I had done so much work in it, I knew what I had—
Kasper: You'd done so much what?
Castleberry: I'd done so much study in the field of depression and suicide, suicide prevention that—
Kasper: You diagnosed yourself.
Castleberry: —I knew what was happening to me, but I didn't know why. And I was in a state of just—almost inability to function. I'll never forget—it's funny now, but it wasn't funny then—Erica Jong came to town and I was interviewing her and almost in the middle of the interview I put my pen down and said, "Tell me what I need to know because I can't ask you questions." I was just in a state of not being able to cope.
Kasper: Is this the mid-seventies?
Castleberry: Yes. And, well it was the late seventies. And what happened was that it was exactly one year before I was diagnosed with cancer. I know, I mean, as things evolved, I know that was eating on me at the time, but I had no way of knowing what it was. And my doctor, my general family doctor, Seth Cowan, was so disturbed about me that he gave me his personal phone number and said call me any minute that you think you need some help. And he said to me, "Have you ever considered suicide?" And I said, "Oh, certainly, but I'm not going to do it." Well, that scared the life out of him. But what I was being was extremely practical and realistic because my feeling is that rarely does a human being come to maturity that they haven't at least once thought that they'd like to end it all. And so I was being too honest and it scared him to death. He gave me—and what was so funny—he gave me medication to ease me over until we could diagnose further, you know, to alleviate the symptoms so that we could get at the root of what was going on.
Kasper: He gave you an anti-depressant?
Castleberry: Yes. And I couldn't take it. I flushed it down the commode after the third dose. It was just devastating. And I told him I did. I called him up the next day and said, "I flushed your expensive medicine down the commode. I'm not going to take any more of it." [Laughter.]
Kasper: He probably saw that as a healthy sign which it probably was.
Castleberry: He did. It was. But then that really got me into working with women and depression and I did an extreme amount of interviewing, in this community, of specialists in all kinds of fields from the medical mode at the medical school to all of the leading psychologists and when I came away I understood why some women are depressed when they go to people for help and they're told what some people tell them and—
Kasper: No wonder they're depressed.
Castleberry: No wonder they're depressed. I would be depressed too if I had to put up with it.
Kasper: And if they weren't depressed beforehand, they sure are to be when they leave.
Castleberry: I do think there's a lot being done in that field. I think it has been aired now to the point—this is about a decade later, and I think it has been aired now to the—but one of the things that my own doctor did for me, and I thought I had it here and I would read it to you if I did, because I do—it has been helpful to other women, and that was, I have discovered that rarely do people write when they are at the peak of life. And what I mean is, when you're in the height of ecstasy, you're so busy living it that you don't have time to write it. And when you're in your depths of depression you're so down that you can't write it. And so my doctor asked me to write an essay as long as I could or as long as I dared on how I really felt. And he made that a priority and he said it was for his learning. It had been made a part of my medical records, but he's also used it, and I appreciated that. It was an exercise. It was hard to do, it was just a page and a half, but it was—
Kasper: Well, that's a form of therapy.
Castleberry: It's a form of therapy. And I feel like that if more people would try that, it is a good way to do it.
Kasper: Yes. I have counseled friends who have been depressed, not only to seek counseling, professional help when they've been depressed and unhappy, but to start a journal if they don't have one. And I've often said, it doesn't have to be more than a couple of paragraphs and if you can't do it every day, if you do it every other day, or when you—just so you get yourself to do it. And some people are, you know, too unhappy or too depressed to be able to, but very often it's the first step to getting better.
Castleberry: That's right. Yeah. If people could see where they are it is so much easier to open the gate to where they need to go than it is if you just sit there and wallow—
Kasper: And to stay stuck.
Castleberry: —Yes. Un huh, just wallow in your misery.
Kasper: Now what was this custody file that we pulled out? There was a story that you followed for some time.
Castleberry: Yeah, there was a story that I followed for some time on custody. This was the story of a woman who lost her children and her ex-husband filed for—and interestingly enough, I did not ever know how I came about this, but I have a copy of the sealed court records. [Laughter.]
Kasper: Good for you.
Castleberry: And it required some doing to get my hands on it. But this was a woman—she was a panelist at one time. She started out on January 22, 1960, with an ideal marriage. They dated a year and a half. And so they got married and—let's see now where I am on this, I have to refresh my own brain before I can talk about it very much.
Kasper: Do you want to take a couple of minutes and I'll shut the tape off? [Tape interruption.]
Castleberry: What we were going to talk about is that there were so many cases that I followed—custody cases—that I followed all the way through and that meant that I was talking to attorneys and I was talking to child care advocates and I was talking to experts, as well as to the individuals themselves. And one of the cases that I followed all the way through was Pat's case, and I won't give her last name here, but her husband was a psychologist, he was a counselor, professional counselor. And when they were divorced, he asked for and started battling for custody of the children using all of the techniques that he could get, including getting her to go to a psychiatrist and to have a checkup. And she fell for a lot of this stuff. And then sending her away from home so that she could get a rest and he would be there with the children to take care of them and all of these things were accumulating on his record as—
Kasper: And he filed for custody while she was gone.
Castleberry: He filed for custody then, and then he had all of these good things going for him. And the children were small at the time. I don't remember—I think Ellen was only probably about seven or eight. One of the boys was older, one of them was younger. Maybe two of the boys were older and one was younger, but—
Kasper: There were four children all together?
Castleberry: Four children all together. And I shall never forget the absolute horror the day the judge decreed that he should have custody of the children and he was trying to get them out of the courtroom. And the little girl was just screaming and holding out her arms and begging for her mother. And then later I got this little girl on tape. She came to Dallas, finally was court ordered to visit her mother, and she came down to see me—
Kasper: She was much older at this point?
Castleberry: Yeah. She was a little older, but she still was a child. And I got her on tape and this is some of the things that she said. She said, "My mom and Jeff and I went to the courthouse and I had to go off with my dad. I started crying real, real hard and I didn't quit crying until I got out to the neighbors' house and then I had to cry again. Daddy wouldn't talk to me so I was feeling real, real bad. Just awful, awful. I cried and cried and cried. When daddy tried to put his arm around me, I wouldn't let him. My friends said that dad sometimes would sit down
and cry because I wouldn't talk to him. And then we left for South Texas. I kept feeling a lump in my throat real bad. All the time I was wishing I was back with my mother. We spent the night in Rockdale and we got to Knippa.
I am in the sixth grade. It's real easy now making A's and B's. We have a real, real old house and it's very cold. There are rats in the walls, I can hear them at night. I used to have a dog. He got real, real sick and I tried to get my dad to take him to the vet and he wouldn't take him. He was real, real sick and I felt so bad and I just loved him and that's all I could do. Claudia, Leslie and I went out to Corlinda's a lot. I clean up the kitchen all the time. Dad does a lot of it sometimes. Dad does some of the housework. There are only three rooms in the house. I sleep in one of them. I don't like to sleep in there by myself. I saw mouse droppings on my floor. I wake up all by myself. School is across the street. I love my mom so much. I love my mom more than I do my dad. I told that to the judge. I didn't want to go with him. I cry a lot all the time for my mother. I sometimes give my dad a hard time, I know that. The only way I will be able to get back with my mom is that she will come down there and live with him and she can't do that. He was always fighting with her when they did live together. Once she was trying to call my grandmother on the telephone and he broke the telephone out of the wall. He fusses at Jeff a whole lot, and once he told Jeff not to listen to him, that that was how he would fuss at mom when she was there. I think he was just as happy without us as he was when we didn't live with him, but he just wanted us to come and I don't know why. I think he wanted us to come because he wanted to hurt my mother. My mother's having a real bad time. Sometimes just when I think of my mom, I feel the tears coming and I can't keep from crying."
I put that on tape. And then, as these children grew up, every one of them came back to her, just as soon as—
Kasper: Back to their mother just as soon as they were old enough.
Castleberry: Back to their mother just as soon as they were old enough to make the decision.
Kasper: Isn't that something. So you followed that story for many years.
Castleberry: I followed that story for years. I did. I followed that story from the time it broke. I have the sealed court records that gave the kids to him. It's all pretty much in legal terms, there's not an awful lot here.
Kasper: And did you follow it by staying in touch with Pat herself?
Castleberry: I stayed in touch with Pat herself. I found out when the court hearings were and I went, and so I watched it all unfold.
Kasper: And would she tell you later that the children came back to her?
Castleberry: Oh, yeah. I still follow her.
Kasper: You still follow her.
Castleberry: I still follow her. In fact, interestingly enough, last week I got a letter (I don't know whether this should be on tape or not, but I can make it).
Kasper: Well, it's up to you. Should I shut it off?
Castleberry: Yeah. [Tape interruption.]
Another court case that I had mentioned to you that was an interesting case was that—the young man who brought his child to me. He had sneaked off to another state with his son and brought him back to Dallas under court order to bring him back.
Kasper: To the mother?
Castleberry: To the court hearing. And before going to court, he stopped by to tell me his sad story about how awful it was to be without his children. And this particular article that I wrote was not published and I wrote a note on here, this was never published, and I really don't know why, but I wanted to skim part of it if I may, and I think it may refresh my memory.
Kasper: Do you want me to turn the tape off for a second?
Castleberry: Yeah. [Tape interruption.]
Kasper: Now this is a custody case that you followed.
Castleberry: This is another custody case that I followed all the way through. It was Lankes versus Lankes.
Kasper: Do you want to put that on?
Castleberry: Yeah. Lankes versus Lankes. And this father had—the mother had custody of the child, and the father had visitation rights. And he forcefully took the child from her at the day care center and took the child to New York State to visit his parents. And he had been court ordered to bring the child back to Dallas for a hearing. And he did. He brought him. But instead of bringing him first to the courthouse for the hearing, he brought him by the Times Herald to talk to me about why he was a young father who needed custody of his child. As it turned out, the young mother was—the child was four, the young mother was, I believe, twenty-eight, and the father was thirty-four. He had been married three times before, had two other children that he had never supported, and didn't see. And his last marriage had lasted only three months. And he said all of his wives had filed suit for divorce for incompatibility. His current marriage had lasted longer than any of the others. It lasted about five or six years, then Charlotte, too, had filed suit for divorce.
Kasper: And she had claimed that he had been physically as well as mentally—
Castleberry: She claimed physically abusive. And he said that he wasn't, but several testimonies indicated that there had probably been some physical abuse in his past marriages. Interestingly enough, it was a jury trial and they had expert witnesses, that is, somebody who had examined the little boy and found him healthy and a delightful child. This was under the custody of the mother that he had turned out to be such a delightful little boy. And the courtroom reunion with his mother was one of extreme enthusiasm and joy. He was so glad to see her.
But the father kept saying that she was abusive to the child. And somehow he managed to convince the jury, which was, I think if I recall correctly, and I could be wrong, but it seems to me that there were seven men and five women on that jury. And the jury awarded custody of the child to the father and the mother then was—she had visitation rights, but the father immediately took him out of state and the last time I saw her, she had changed jobs and was trying—had taken her maiden name back, and was trying to reshape and readjust her life.
I ran into her at the Mental Health Association when I went to visit a friend and she gave me the end of the story that I have here. I had not thought I would ever see her after that court case. I wrote the story as a part of a series on custody cases and I tried to be as fair and honorable as I could. I presented as much as I could of the court case. I do have all the court records here so everything that I have is authentic and real. My own interpretation of it is that, very honestly, custody was awarded to the wrong parent. I think the expert witnesses show that as well as the behavior of the mother. She thinks that she lost custody of her little boy because she did not let her real emotions show in the courtroom; that she was too contained and she was trying to behave in the appropriate manner that you behave in a courtroom—
Kasper: Whatever that is.
Castleberry: Whatever that is, and she felt like, too, being in tears and she said, "I think I didn't let the jury know how much my child meant to me." And when I saw her afterward, this was some two years after the case had ended, she looked beautiful but haunted. And she was in a professional support group, of families, parents, who had lost their children, trying to understand what had happened to her and to go on with her life.
I wrote this story—I wrote the complete story after everything had transpired, going back over all the court cases and I kept very copious records—I wrote the story and I wrote it as a part of a series on custody cases because at that time I was sitting through some that just broke my heart. And I was beginning to see more and more of fathers winning custody of their children, and I'm not saying that fathers should never win custody of their children at all, but I am saying that the courts very often are using the wrong criteria to evaluate. They use the criteria of quantity, how much money, which parent has the most money and can afford the most things for the kid rather than who will give it the most loving, nurturing home.
So I wrote the story and it was never published as a part of the series on custody. I very honestly cannot remember why. I don't know whether it was one of those things where my management felt, as it sometimes did, that I was being too much of a feminist. They very often thought that. I had one boss tell me one time, I said, "I can't help being a woman!" And he said, "Well, you could try." And he was—
Kasper: Who said that?
Castleberry: One of my bosses. He was trying to be funny and it didn't come off as funny to me at all. But you cannot think outside the framework of who you are.
Kasper: So you think that's your guess that this may have been one of those instances when you were being too much of a feminist.
Castleberry: That's my guess.
Kasper: Can you recall other times when you might have had the same accusation mentioned to you, your being too much of a feminist?
Castleberry: Oh, sure. I can remember one time when my boss had said to me, "You're so predictable," meaning that I usually took the woman's side of the issue.
Kasper: Do you remember what the issues were when you were accused of being predictable or a feminist?
Castleberry: No, I don't—that particular one. I remember one funny story. There was a man in our department that was kind of a—he considered himself a wit, nobody else considered him a wit, but he thought he was a wit. And one day, he greeted me—he was always greeting me as the resident feminist and making it in a loud voice and very clear so that everybody in the department would know who I was. And that got awfully tiring, I just—you know, it got so old. And I had to call his hand on it and remind him that I had a name and that I would appreciate being called by it. He was not in a position of management, he was just one of those tagalongs that give you a bad time.
Kasper: Do you remember what some of those issues were that you got called on the line for? Like this custody case. When you covered the abortion issue, did you often get either articles that went unpublished or called to the floor for being a feminist?
Castleberry: When I covered the abortion issue, I was very aware that this community—well, I never wrote a story with abortion in it that I didn't have hundreds of telephone calls. I mean, that was the one red flag.
Kasper: Telephone calls on both sides of the issue?
Castleberry: Well, no. The people who are for you—only the people that are on your side will say, right on, when they see you, but they don't call you.
But the people who think that abortion is murder, and that it shouldn't happen under any conditions whatsoever, are extremely volatile and they fire off all of these sayings immediately and they pick up the phone and call. So I just knew when we covered anything with the word abortion in it, I was just set for at least a week of getting nasty telephone calls and nasty—
Kasper: How about letters to the editor?
Castleberry: And letters. And what really is annoying about that is that it saps your energy for going on with your work. If I have to listen to somebody harangue for thirty minutes on the telephone about how awful I am because I printed the story of someone who needed to have an abortion, if I have to listen to that for a period of thirty minutes when I should be editing tomorrow's paper, that is a real wrong use of time. And along about that time, we had one absolutely tremendous individual in this town whose name was Claude Evans and he was the chaplain at Southern Methodist University and who believed in a woman's right to control her own body and of course he was called on the carpet any number of times and I used him really often as an expert because he was just so sane and so intelligent and so reasonable and, of course, people who believe that they should control what other people do with themselves, their lives and their bodies are not reasonable and controlled.
Kasper: Not reasonable in their—?
Castleberry: And controlled, they're out of control.
Kasper: When management would see letters to the editor about some articles you'd written, say, on the abortion issue, what would happen? Would they call you in?
Castleberry: No. They didn't call me in. They let me read the letters to the editor and I always knew they were going to turn up there—always counted them to see how many management this time put the pro ones and the con ones. We'd see if we were keeping appropriate balance in our thinking. [Laughter.]
Kasper: Did management ever tell you not to do any more articles on some of these controversial issues?
Castleberry: No. No. I can't say they—it was a very subtle kind of control that they exercised. I was never told don't cover that subject anymore. What I was told was to be sure you're keeping balance. If you're going to go out and cover the right—the abortion issue, be sure you go and cover what the right-to-life is saying. And they also would be very careful to see that I covered Phyllis Schlafly when she came to town. And I think I said to you yesterday, and I don't know whether it's on tape or not, but I'll say it now for on tape. One of the greatest reasons for my leaving the Times Herald, one of the greatest joys I had, is that I no longer had to call Phyllis Schlafly or go to see her and ask her what she thinks because I know what she thinks. I've interviewed her countless times and I know what she thinks and I know that there is no way that you can impinge or that you can even get beyond that facade that she puts on of—the rhetoric that you hear. One of the things that I was concerned about, many women were, but I was really concerned about how she could go out and preach about how mothers should stay home with their dear sweet little children—
Kasper: Yes, and she never did.
Castleberry: —while she was out. And I kept wanting—see, all those years I kept looking for the other angle, I so badly wanted to interview her kids. I can't tell you how badly I wanted to interview her kids.
Kasper: And you never got to?
Castleberry: I never got to, no.
Kasper: Oh, what a shame.
Castleberry: No, but I did get to interview Marabel Morgan's husband once. She brought him with her to an interview and so I—I can't remember the question
I asked her, and she turned to him and asked if she could answer that question. And I said— [Laughter.]
Kasper: Some total woman, huh?
Castleberry: I'll tell you how I handled that. It was one of the funniest stories I ever did. I quit interviewing her and started interviewing him. I thought, if she was going to ask him how she should answer it, the answer should at least come from him and after a while she began to look really puzzled. She had come for an interview and here I was talking exclusively to her husband.
I had another one, if I could only remember her name. Do you remember the book called Fascinating Womanhood?
Castleberry: Well, it's another one—a right, really extreme right-wing book.
Kasper: Like Total Woman or—?
Castleberry: Like Total Woman only not as well written. The danger with Total Woman is that it is well—fairly decently written.
Kasper: Fascinating Woman, I don't think I've ever heard of.
Castleberry: Well, Fascinating Woman is very poorly written and I'll tell you a funny story about that. I wish I could remember the date, but I can't. The book came across my desk and I picked it up, I brought it home with me that night, as I did a whole lot of stuff, and started looking at it to see what it was. And I read about a dozen pages of it and I said to myself, "Nobody has to read this kind of mess." And I threw it in the wastebasket. The next day I went to work and then the letter came that this woman was coming to town and my management immediately wanted me to go over and interview her. So I had to go buy the book. I had to spend the paper's good money to buy the book so I could read it and see what it had to say.
So I got there that morning to the Fairmont Hotel for the interview, and when I knocked on the door, her fifteen-year old son came to the door because this woman could not travel alone. She needed male protection. So her fifteen-year old son answered the door and then she came waltzing in and she was dressed—this was nine o'clock in the morning and she was dressed in a white eyelet skirt and a voile top with ruffles at the top, and a pink ribbon around her neck holding a cameo, and pink ribbons in her hair and pink slippers. [Laughter.] And so I did the interview and I left the hotel and I almost never published what a woman wore but that time—
Kasper: You couldn't help yourself.
Castleberry: —it seemed to be a part of the story. But what was so funny was that when I walked into the paper, two of the men were giggling and they almost—this time they thought it was funny—they almost met me at the elevator when I got off the elevator. This woman had already called my management and had said to them not to let that woman publish—
[End Tape 3, Side A; Begin Tape 3, Side B]
Castleberry: —at the elevator and that time it was funny to them, this woman had called and—it was Bob Hollingsworth that she had called, he was my boss at the time. I had lots of bosses, I mean, it was a revolving door of bosses. And he met me almost at the elevator and he was giggling and he said she had called up and said that that woman should not publish that story; she didn't know how to give a good interview. And Bob, of all of the characteristics, he could say the most in the fewest lines of anybody I know. And he said to her (calling her name up), "I am sure that Mrs. Castleberry has been doing interviews longer than you have been giving them." That was his answer to her. So, anyway, I couldn't resist. And I did get my hand slightly slapped that time for printing what she wore. They didn't think it was appropriate for me to print what she wore at nine o'clock in the morning.
Kasper: Did you ever think about moving to another section of the paper—to city side or—?
Castleberry: No. No.
Castleberry: Because I was where I could do the most good.
Kasper: In what sense?
Castleberry: I was doing the kind of thing I wanted to do. I was doing the kinds of things that are critical to our lives, critical to the wholeness of our lives, and people on city side don't get to do that. I watched them day in and day out. They would go to city side and they would be assigned a beat and they would cover education, and at first it would be fascinating and thrilling, and then it was the same old thing and they would get bored and nobody—there wasn't any relief from it. And I think it's wonderful when you have reporters who are specialists in their fields, and I usually made it my business to talk to the specialists—I always made it my business to talk to a specialist in any department that I was working in, or any subject. But I didn't want to get channeled into the trenches of doing one thing.
Kasper: So it's not that education didn't fascinate you in what you write or—
Castleberry: On education or crime or—
Kasper: Politics or whatever.
Castleberry: All of it fascinated me. That's the reason I wanted to stay. All of it fascinated me and I got to do a little of all of it. I got to interview politicians and politicians' wives; I got to interview elected officials and their wives; and I used to ask the men the same questions I asked the women, and that really undid them, because they weren't used to being asked about their wives, their children and home life and what they did with their extracurricular hours and who they played golf with. And I was interested in that. I mean, they didn't know that that was part of the news story. And I got to interview—sometimes entertainers, if they fascinated me, I would interview them. Most entertainers are so narrow in their scope that I didn't find them intriguing, but people like—Lily Tomlin, for instance, or Cher, or people that have a dimension to them that has never been reported. I loved to find the dimension of individuals that hadn't been held up to the mirror before and to talk about the kinds of things that—and I hated press conferences. I always went to the press conferences when they were held because something might happen that I wouldn't know.
Kasper: What do you mean you hated press conferences?
Castleberry: Press conferences, you know, where very important people come to town and their publicist will arrange a press conference for them and all the press comes in.
Kasper: And it's all staged.
Castleberry: And it's all staged. And you never—I wouldn't dare ask an important question in a press conference because everybody then has access to the answer. And if I'm going to be competitive in my reporting at all, and I am competitive in, I think, I hope, in a gentle way, but I always said, never give me an exclusive, but give me equal opportunity with the story and I'll beat you every time. [Laughter.]
For instance, one of the specifics, when Rosalynn Carter came to town, she was going to hold a press conference but not see the individual press. And I kept pushing and pushing and pushing for just, I said, five minutes, when I can see her by herself is all I would ask. Well, they just weren't doing this for anybody and they couldn't do it for me either. But I found out who was picking her up at the airport and I called her and asked if I could ride out with her. [Laughter.]
And she said, "Sure." So I rode out with her and back with her and I got more in that thirty minute ride from the airport—
Kasper: Who were you riding with?
Castleberry: I can't remember who it was. It was somebody that was a good Democrat in town that had picked her up at the airport. And I got more out of that thirty minute drive back from the airport than the press conference would have divulged in two weeks of a staged thing.
I think I may have been one of the first reporters—I think I may have been, I don't know because you never know what is yours, that is original with you, and what you could have read somewhere back there and picked up, and I don't ever want to claim words that are not mine—but I think I may have been one of the first persons that called her the steel glove, the steel hand in the velvet glove and—
Kasper: The steel magnolia.
Castleberry: Right. The steel magnolia.
Kasper: So you may have coined that term.
Castleberry: I could have. I won't certainly take credit for that because I could have read it somewhere, but that was certainly the feeling that I got, although I have great admiration and respect for that woman. Her ability is absolutely phenomenal.
Kasper: Well I think steel magnolia can be taken either way. I took it positively because I like her too.
Castleberry: Well, personally she is just such dynamite. I would feel comfortable with her running my country any day as I would feel comfortable with a lot of women I know running my country.
Kasper: You know, the paper, the women's section, and in particular many of your articles, won a number of awards. Would you like to talk about some of that?
Castleberry: Yeah. Our awards were very numerous and very appreciated and also I would like to add that I learned real early on that an award is useful only at the time that it's being given, and you can enjoy it, but you must never be caught up there and think that this is that you've reached it.
Kasper: Why is that?
Castleberry: Well, because people who—
Kasper: You can't rest on your laurels?
Castleberry: Take the bows. You can't rest on your laurels. People who take the bows and accept the applause and then don't do anything else, very quickly get stale and rusty. And also, there's another thing that is very true, and that is that news is only as good as today's headlines. What happened yesterday is of no account and what is going to happen tomorrow is all promise and you can't—you've got to go back every day to the computer and write the story and see that it's headlined appropriately, get it in the page, and get it out there for somebody to share with you the message that you're telling. And you've got to do that tomorrow, and you've got to do it the next day, and you cannot afford to congratulate yourself for too long on any of the awards that you've won.
Although, I will tell you that they felt good at the time. One of the things that my husband did for me that—he told me, he said to me very early on, "Honey, never sneeze at what people give you when they give you their best." And that happened when I had been nominated by Delta Kappa Gamma, which is a teachers honorary organization. And I had been nominated for an honorary membership in Delta Kappa Gamma, and I, at the time, was so overwhelmed with being so many things and doing so many things and being so involved with so much of life, and I made the mistake of saying to Curt, "I don't need that, you know, that's awfully
nice of them to offer, but I don't want membership in anything else for whatever reasons." And that's when Curt said to me, never sneeze at the best that people give you. Always accept it with joy and be grateful that they have done this for you. And it was a wonderful learning lesson for me. From then on, when people gave me an award, I thanked them, and took the bows and enjoyed the applause and enjoyed the smiles and congratulations and then I got up the next morning to prove myself again.
Kasper: Well, you, in turn, have also given a number of awards and a number of women I have spoken to have said that as a woman the greatest honor in Dallas is to be given an award by Vivian Castleberry. So you are much admired in this city, in turn, in giving awards to women here in this city.
Castleberry: The thing, I think what you may be referring to is that up until this year I presented every—the first time the Women's Center gave an award, I was given one and after that I presented them every year, until this year. And I told them early on that I wouldn't give them this year because I didn't think it should become an institution. I think somebody else should do it and she did and she did a good job of it—beautifully done. But what I do is probably what nobody else in the world does, and that is that I study each individual in depth. It takes a long time. I take the material that's given me by the Women's Center from the awardees; I call her up; I have a personal interview with her; I talk to her friends; I talk to her significant others, whomever they may be, to her children. And out of this always comes a unique human being.
Kasper: And a biographical sketch.
Castleberry: And a biographical sketch that breathes and that has life to it. And what is such a joy about doing it is that each human being is so different. And you can take the same chain of events, the same kinds of schools that a person went to, and the same honors they've won, the same everything—
Kasper: The historical period that they've lived through.
Castleberry: —everything, and yet you can find underneath that the unique human being that is totally different from anybody else. And most of the people that I have presented awards to have been grateful that I have tried to find, and probably mostly succeeded in finding, the thing that made her different from everybody else. And I think that's the reason they say that.
Kasper: That's what Gail Smith said. She said to be introduced by Vivian Castleberry is really a tribute to that woman and the sense of, as you say, the uniqueness that you address in that introduction that you make to that person is a large part of the tribute. It's really something that, she said, year after year women in Dallas would look forward to, and it's in part a shame that you've stopped doing it because I think that probably a lot of women out there in Dallas had their fingers crossed that you'd come along and introduce them.
Castleberry: Well, you know, there's another part of that too. What was such a pleasure for me was that in every sense, it was rare that somebody won that I didn't know. So it was such a pleasure to get to introduce my friends to my friends. That's what was such a joy that I could have that whole captive audience to tell these wonderful things about this woman. I got, of course, to do—I've done different kinds from Nancy Brinker to Gail Smith to—oh, there have just been so many of them. I was trying to think who was it who said to me after I did her introduction, she had her family here from out of state, her parents from out of state, and she had a table of a husband and children and family and parents and sister, a whole bunch of people. And I can't remember who it was who said to me afterwards, "Will you do my funeral service when I die." [Laughter.] And I said, "Well, I'd be glad to, but I don't think there's any way that I'm going to outlive you." [Note added by V. Castleberry: It was Joy Mankoff.]
Kasper: Or plan for it now. Well, let's get back to some of the awards that the Living section or the women's pages won. Do you remember the Katies?
Castleberry: The Katies were offered by the Dallas Press Club and we won—let's see, we won a number of Katies. They're I think on your list over there, I can't remember when they were or what they were.
Kasper: Well, there are no dates here. I looked up the J.C. Penney Awards, I have some dates for those. Do you remember what the Katies were awarded for?
Castleberry: The Katies were awarded of course for—well, one of them was for page makeup and that's when I said that I really am not a page makeup artist, but some things are just so obvious that you—the pictures just speak and the language speaks and the type speaks and it tells you what to do with it if you listen to it. And anybody can do it. With a real good story and real good pictures and a real good type you can put it together. But two or three of them were for writing, for stories that I had done.
Kasper: Do you remember what those stories were?
Castleberry: One of them was for the story on the neighborhood power, on the first integrated neighborhood in Dallas. And one of them is for a series of stories that I haven't told you about. No. Yeah, that won a press club award and then it won a state UPI writing award. It was called "The Good Marriage."
Kasper: Now what was that?
Castleberry: I did a series of stories on what it takes to make and keep a marriage good. And this was way back like in 1960—the early '60s. And the way I did that, I still think it's wonderful because I'm not a sociologist and I don't know how to quantify or qualify material except that I know how to get it. And what I did was go to ministers and social workers and outstanding individuals in this town and I said to them, "Can you tell me who among your friends or associates, from your perspective, are the most—the best married couple that you know whose marriage is really working." And I did this with my pediatrician, and I did it with Jerry Lewis at the Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital, and I did it, you know, with top-notch ministers and all over. And then I took these names and I wrote to them and the letter said something like, "You have been recommended by—" Let's see, "From all outward appearances, you have an ideal marriage. If you agree with this, will you please fill out the following questionnaire." And it was a letter that covered all of the things that go—as nearly as I could, I covered all of the—I gave them every out that they could take and I also said, "I am not keeping a record of these letters, so I will not know who has responded. This is a blind thing—if you care to sign your name, I would appreciate it because I would love to call you later and I would love to get some follow-up quotes, but it isn't necessary."
And I don't remember how many I sent out, but I got one hundred responses. I did. I got one hundred responses and most of those were both husband and wife because I sent the questionnaire to both husband and wife. And the responses were tear jerking. One man wrote, this is the first time I have had a chance to say in public what I have long thought in private about my wonderful wife of thirty-five years. And then, he went on and outlined—they are still happily married having just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
And the thing that triggered this, we had had the president, the executive director of the American Marriage Counselors Association here in town, and he had said in a public address, only one marriage out of every ten that reaches the twentieth anniversary is a happy marriage. So I took that as my cue and then I started looking for the happy marriages to see what kinds of characteristics went into those. And it was a wonderful exercise. And then I went out personally and I talked to any number of different experts in the field, and we'd try it out on them.
One of the funny stories that will interest you—one of the people that I talked to was an Episcopal priest who during the session—during the interview that I was doing with him was interrupted three times with telephone calls from his wife. And it was all this, honey, gooey stuff back and forth, and so I was getting a little bored with all this but, you know, you can't do anything but sit there and listen to it all the way through. So, along the way, he started quoting the Bible to me—the role of a good wife. And I listened to it, and I listened to it. That's hard to do, you know, being a feminist, that's hard to do. So, I went on and
completed my interview and got it all finished and then I closed my tablet and I said to him, "Father Norman, I will allow you to take St. Paul as your expert on women if you will allow me to take Jesus Christ as mine." [Laughter.] And from then on several times I saw him in a grocery store and he didn't speak to me. He turned his cart the other way. But I got, of course, the whole thing across the whole board of the people who thought that a wife should be submissive, but for the most part—
Kasper: So that won a Katie and a state UPI award?
Castleberry: It won the state UPI award and the little certificate that I got from the state UPI was—it's a hoot, I have laughed and laughed about it, it said, "For her series on marriage, a fresh treatment of a very mundane subject." [Laughter.]
Kasper: That gave you a good laugh.
Castleberry: I can tell you that some man thought that up.
Kasper: That's sort of like one of my pet issues, as you know, is how women do report stories. Do you feel that as a reporter over the years that you added a special dimension to this?
Castleberry: I think women add special dimensions if they're allowed to speak their own voices. I think so often women have been trained not to be (quote) "emotional" and to be terribly objective that very often their real voices do not come through. But I think that for the most part, you can, as you have pointed out to me, most of the time you can tell whether a man has written a story or a woman has written a story even if it doesn't have a byline. And I think the reason for that is just the kind of conditioning that we get. Women reporters were female before they were reporters and the kinds of training that they get as reporters will get as much of that out of them as it can because they're trained mostly by men, and they're trained to be objective, and they're trained to be investigative, and they're trained to count how many and how much and how long, and you're literally trained to find the who, what, when, where and why.
And what has always appalled me about that is that the first of the "W's" is the who, and that's where I stop. If I can find out who you are, I can pretty well tell what you are, and why you are, and how you are, and almost all the other things follow who you are. And I think that's what we have forgotten in American journalism is that the who is the almighty important question. And I think women instinctively know that, whether or not it's instinct—my sociologist friends quibble with me over whether or not it's an ingrained condition, but at least it's there and I don't know whether it came with the womb or it came with the territory, but it's still more in women than it is in men and unless you legislate it out, it will come through in the story. And it's a softer touch, it's a more inclusive touch, it's a more human kind of reporting.
Kasper: Charlie Dameron, when I spoke to him, and we've mentioned him before, said a very interesting thing. He said that he felt that women made much better feature writers than men. He said they were much more sensitive to the human side. That he doesn't understand why, but they have a basic instinct where they understand what it is that people do and why they do what they do, and that they're able to capture that in writing. He said he thinks that women, just straight out of the block, make better feature writers than men reporters do.
Now, he said some other things you don't want to hear about—that women aren't qualified to be on the city side and they can't capture the flavor of foreign affairs and politics and so forth, and they can't stand the stress because they're too emotional and, of course, that would just defeat their ability to go to the heights or the pinnacles of journalism.
But he did say something similar to what you are saying, which is that he feels that there's a whole human side of the news that women capture far better than any man he's ever met in journalism. And so there's a point of agreement there that you both share. And I think that is what you're saying, there's a dimension here that women, either because of instinct or socialization, are able to capture when they're capturing this part of the news that's vital. I don't think we should
trivialize it as maybe some people do. I think it, in fact, is what you're saying—the essential part of the news.
Castleberry: Well, see, that's the tragedy. It has been left out. If anything has had to be left out, that's the part of the news that has been left out. And the news hole is only so big and advertising takes up the rest of it so if it comes—when push comes to shove, and throughout history, the human side of the news has been left on the cutting room floor while the international affairs—who blew whose head off—is the important thing that people want to know. And as long as newspapers are controlled exclusively by men and the vote is by males, exclusively, that will continue to prevail.
Kasper: Do you think that when you were appointed as the first woman member of the editorial board of the Dallas Times Herald that that was one of those opportunities where you could begin to make that kind of a difference in the measure of control?
Castleberry: It was. And many of my friends have been very unhappy with me because I did not stay on the editorial board. I literally took myself off.
Castleberry: Because I could not do everything that was expected of me.
Kasper: On the board?
Castleberry: I could not continue to run a staff and to be responsible for the Living section and to—what happened was that Tom Johnson, bless him, came to town and put me on the editorial board and I was—I thought that I had now hit some kind of pinnacle and that was one of those times when I walked the streets with Curtis at night. I'll never forget walking around this block and saying to him, "I don't know whether I can do that or not." I assumed that the editorial department was an erudite place where earth-shaking decisions were made and my husband would say to me, "Of course you can do it, anybody, you know, can do it. You can read the editorials in the paper and you've been writing for, yea, these many years and of course you can do it, and you will probably need to pick the subjects that you're most interested in because you won't be interested in writing an editorial column on everything, but they will give you some leeway. So, don't worry about it." So I came home the next night and Curtis said, "Well, how did it go?" And I said, "You are not going to believe—we spent the first thirty minutes talking about last night's Cowboy football score." [Laughter.] So much for the erudite meetings.
Kasper: High intellectual caliber of the editorial board.
Castleberry: And I did, I enjoyed—in the first place, I was lonely there. I was the only woman, there were several men and although the men were not of a single mind, the male attitude prevailed. That was number one.
Number two, it was a waste of time. Men waste more time in public meetings, I cannot tell you! I have been the token woman in countless meetings that men run. And for the most part—of course, I understand that the way men go about doing a thing and the way a woman goes about doing it, are different. I understand that. But they talk about women being scatter-brained and wasting their time. You get into a meeting with men and they make earth-shaking decisions in five minutes, after they have spent countless time talking about the most trivial kinds of things. And, but about as far as most men can go is sports and sometimes they'll get around to the headline news, but not often. It's usually things that are right in front of their nose like sports, where they're going golfing tomorrow and this sort of thing, and it's a waste of time.
So, number one, I felt lonely; number two, I felt like it was a waste of my time; and number three, I was still trying to run a staff. And those editorial board meetings were at exactly the same time that I had traditionally had my staff meetings—in the early morning when everybody first came in and they were fresh, and we could have fifteen to twenty minutes of hard-nosed what the day's news is and where we each need to be and whose going to be reporting on what and what time you are to report in, and how long you have to do the story and this sort of thing.
So I just gradually took myself off. I would not go to a meeting and then next week I wouldn't go to two meetings. My women friends were upset. But, I was appointed as a token and I withdrew as the token, and I still think it was a good decision. You cannot survive everything and that was one thing that I could not handle at that point in my life.
I think I did a little bit of good. I think I presented—I know I presented an attitude or an angle that had never been presented before which now is that I looked—I looked at things as a woman looks at things. For instance, one of the editorial commentaries that I did that got a lot of comment and a lot of rebuttal was on the Vietnam War. And if our son had lived, he would have been exactly the right age to have been in Vietnam. And so I wrote the article, it was very personal to me, and I wish I had it here because I would like to make that a part of the tape. But the article had to do with if my son were alive today, he would be drafted or would certainly be subject to draft. And if he chose to go to Canada, he would have his mother's blessings. It was in that vein. And, of course, the hardliners in town, I got a tremendous amount of flack and from many mothers and many wives and a few nice young men, I got an embracing, arms around for being so honest in print and giving the other view, because that was very early in Vietnam, it was largely before people had divided on the different sides and before the real hard-nosed confrontations.
I also did an article on abortion once that I wish I had for you because it was very even-handed. It simply said that I will not choose what you do with your life and I will not allow you to choose what I do with mine. Just that simple.
Kasper: You know, one of the other awards that you were given in '65, and I believe again in '67, were the J.C. Penney/University of Missouri Awards.
Castleberry: The J.C. Penney/University of Missouri Awards and that—well, first going to the University of Missouri to Columbia was an exciting experience because the workshops there, the weekly workshops on women's news were also—
Kasper: That coincides with the giving of the award, is that what that is?
Castleberry: Um unh. And then the next year I would win an award. When I'd go to it, I would win an award. The workshops were so well done and the awards, of course, were—they came after the fact. And, speaking of awards, I had one boss one time who didn't want me to enter anything. He didn't think awards did anything for the paper, he said.
Kasper: Is that right?
Kasper: But wasn't the paper pleased when you won these awards, generally speaking?
Castleberry: I got nice notes from them. I think, for the most part, it made it more difficult to handle. I really do.
Kasper: In what sense?
Castleberry: Well, because if I were getting that much applause from the public, what could they do with this woman they couldn't really control?
Kasper: Did you have that sense as you began to come to the end of your career that you were kind of an entity in your right, an institution in your own right at that paper?
Castleberry: Sure. I did. I had that feeling and I still have that feeling. It is something that hasn't gone away because when I am in this community, even today, there are so many people, there are so many people who say, "I wish you were there," and there are so many people who say, "I wish you were back"—staff members. And that's a neat feeling, it's a good feeling and I appreciate it. I wouldn't do it again for any amount of money for anybody.
Kasper: You wouldn't go back?
Castleberry: No. And also, let me say this, I would never say never. It's like when I tell my husband, "I will never marry again. I will live in sin if I want to, but I won't marry again." Having done it once, I've done it. But nobody should ever say never because you don't know what the circumstances are going to be, but I've done that. It was a good life and I've done it—
Kasper: When you look back on your career, and we'll talk a little bit about the circumstances of your retirement before we end this, but when you look back on your career, what is the legacy you think you left as a journalist?
Castleberry: The legacy—?
Kasper: Either right here in Dallas or beyond.
Castleberry: I think I probably left an example for women that if you are sufficiently determined and well prepared that you can open options that have been closed to women in the past. I think that I gave nurturance and appreciation to many younger women who—and I still do that, I still write notes of appreciation when I see an especially good article in—mostly Dallas papers, but I've fired off letters to the New York Times too saying, you know, that was a wonderful article because we don't get much of that. What we get is the rebuttal. What we get are the people who don't agree with it. But very seldom do we get the "well done." And even management, for the most part, tends to tell you what you did wrong rather than what you did right.
And so I think I have continued a legacy of applauding women for the good things that they do and appreciation for the kinds of human stories that we've been talking about that are finding their way into print. I think I set a pattern. I think I opened doors for some women by pushing hard that got maternity rights. I was one of the pioneers that—I was the first person that the Times Herald ever gave a leave of absence to for a baby, and although they didn't pay me for anything during that period of time, they at least let me come back with a clean record.
Kasper: You set a precedence for other women.
Castleberry: And I set a precedent and I don't think now they would dare tell a young woman that you cannot—you have to resign your job because you're pregnant. I probably also proved to some people that women can do what they say they will do and that they not only can do it, but they will do it, they will deliver. I gave dimensions to stories that wouldn't have been there if I hadn't been, such as the Kennedy assassination story which I was on from the morning that the Kennedys got to town until we closed out that weekend—that tragic weekend.
Kasper: Dimension—the kind of dimension that we were talking about before—the human dimension, the personal and sensitive—
Castleberry: Right. The personal and sensitive and—I don't say that you see things differently than what a man does, but for the most part you do. Most women see things that—for instance, just one for instance. During the Kennedy assassination story coverage, I was at the Trade Mart covering that story and waiting for the Kennedys to arrive and, of course, they never did. And I saw the Washington press corps burst in the side door and I knew that something awful had happened because he was late, late, late and we were just waiting and nothing had happened. And so I had been told that we could not leave our seats after we were seated—the President comes in after everybody gets seated—you are not to leave your seat. And I could not—when I saw Bob Hollingsworth, who was our Washington Bureau Chief, burst through that side door and head for a telephone, I followed him. I couldn't stay seated any longer. And he and I together kept the lines open from the Trade Mart to the paper, and while he would go out and collect other information, I'd hold the phone for him so he'd have a phone. And we were feeding in information.
And I certainly was seeing things that he was not seeing, such as, I went into the room that had been set up at the Trade Mart for Kennedy's personal use.
Right at the front of the Trade Mart there was a little room that had been set up for his personal use and the red telephone was in it. And I saw that and I also saw the cowboy hat that had been placed there for him. And I saw the gifts that had been placed there for him to take back to the children. And I don't know whether a man would have seen those things or not, but I saw them. The interesting thing was how much information hit the cutting room floor over that weekend because there was so much happening.
And I still think one of the best stories that I have ever written hit the cutting room floor that weekend and it still makes me sick. I think I've got it somewhere. I have not been able to find it recently. That afternoon, after I had left the Trade Mart and gone out to Parkland Hospital, and then, you know, had made the circuit and had returned to the paper, the paper was beginning to fill up with out-of-town correspondents and our paper was wonderful. They called us together and said, "Help people in whatever way you can; lend them your typewriter, you know, give them anything they need; give them any help that they want. Don't get in their way. If they ask questions, answer them. Don't question anything." It's the hardest thing in the world to sit there and hear somebody on my telephone talking about the Dallas Parkland Hospital being located where the Dallas Courthouse is. Now that was tough, but I did it because that was what I was supposed to do.
But after I got back, I got a telephone call from my first cousin who was the assistant to Abraham Zapruder who took the photographs of the assassination. And when Peggy got on the phone, she said to me, "Vivian, I saw a president die today." I said, "Peggy, don't say another word until I put a piece of paper in the typewriter." And I got her first-person story through sobs. And it never saw the light of day. And this was a woman who was standing at Zapruder's left elbow while he was handling the camera, and she was holding the extra film, and she was holding, you know, the tape, and she was doing all these things.
Kasper: And you think it didn't make the paper just because there was so—
Castleberry: Oh, there was too much. There was too much volume. Just too much. I don't think that was anything that was calculated or it certainly wasn't done to—it was just a good story that never saw the light of day.
Kasper: Here's another deep question like the legacy question. Do you think that given the legacy you've left that journalism is different today?
Castleberry: I wish it were. I think a lot of things have moved into journalism. In the last few years we have been in a changing time and Watergate has made us even more apprehensive about reporting the human side of things. We are going for the jugular.
Kasper: The jugular in what sense?
Castleberry: The jugular in that we are looking for the things that don't work instead of the things that do work. We are trying to find the rotten egg under every laurel leaf, so to speak. And I think that eventually it's going to make a difference. I think we are going through—history never comes to terms with its times that it's going through, you've got to get beyond it and look back to see what you did. And I think right now we are only beginning to realize that journalism, and print journalism especially, has an obligation to the world that no other role can fill. Television can't do it. Television is instant use and it's gone. I do think that eventually the kind of reporting that I did and the kind of reporting that women do and the kind reporting that is occasionally creeping in from some of the men, is going to be the mode of the future. But we're not there yet. And it depends a lot on what happens in international affairs because we are now very definitely an international community. And the way we have reported in the past on events that have come out of other countries is a sin. It is sinful in how limited we are in our understanding of other peoples' cultures and other peoples' religions and other peoples' lifestyles.
Kasper: The cultural context.
Castleberry: In a cultural context. We just assume that we are right because it's us.
Kasper: And we always apply a Western framework to every—
Castleberry: We apply a Western framework to everything. And just recently—I think some of the best reporting today is being done by the new Christian Science magazine which looks at all—
Kasper: Is that the title of it, "The New Christian—"?
Castleberry: No. What is the name of it? [Note added by V. Castleberry: World Monitor, The Christian Science monthly magazine.] It's a fairly new publication and I try to read too much, but that's one thing that I read and I read it carefully. It had one of the most beautiful articles recently by Brazelton—
Kasper: The pediatrician, T. Berry Brazelton.
Castleberry: The pediatrician, who has come light years away from keeping women in the home and tied to the baby. And this was looking at child care as a development for a whole person's future—the future of a whole person. And they also have covered—recently they covered child care as it impacts children in four of the world's leading countries—America, the Soviet Union, Japan and—I can't remember where else, but anyway how we unconsciously inculcate our children to behave in a manner that the culture expects them to. And I do think that kind of reporting is cutting edge of change reporting and I do think that it's going to catch on a lot. And I do see some bylines—I can't remember who—Peter Applebaum, maybe—a few tender notes that are creeping in that tell me that we're beginning to concentrate on the who of journalism rather than so much on the what and the how and the when.