Interview #3 (pp. 44-69) June 4, 1988 in Naples, FL
Women In Journalism
Interviewees
Jane Eads Bancroft

[Begin Tape 1, Side A]

Currie: This is interview number three, and we're still in Chicago! It was such an interesting time. In the time that you were in Chicago, were you ever denied a story because you were a woman?

Eads: No, never. Another thing that always surprised me was so many people, especially some journalists, downgraded [William Randolph] Hearst as a boss. They said he was too rough on them and demanded too much, and you had to toe the line and everything. I never once, when I worked for him, had any problem about my copy or the way I should approach a story, whether I should slant it or do this, nor did I know of any other journalists in Chicago who were influenced by his opinions.

Currie: Did you ever meet William Randolph Hearst?

Eads: No. I heard him once and saw him once at some big meeting. He had a high little voice, which always surprised me, because he was a big, tall man, and rather handsome.

Currie: You were saying at dinner the other night that they used to have signs in the newsroom that would read, "The chief says."

Eads: On the bulletin board. Every newspaper office had a bulletin board. You've seen that. Or don't they anymore?

Currie: I suppose they do.

Eads: I mean just someplace where things are tacked up, reminding reporters what to do.

Currie: And it would say, "The chief says." Is that how people referred to Mr. Hearst?

Eads: Yes.

Currie: That's interesting. You knew some of the characters who later wrote and were written about in "The Front Page."

Eads: Hildy Johnson was the one I knew, because he was the only one still around Chicago when I was there. Ben Hecht and Charlie MacArthur were in New York then. I knew the first wife of Charlie MacArthur, before he married Helen Hayes. Her name was Carol Frink, and she was a movie critic in Chicago on the Herald Examiner. Very funny, very funny person. I was very fond of her.

Currie: What was Hildy Johnson like? Was the portrayal in "The Front Page" pretty accurate?

Eads: He covered police news in Chicago. When I knew him, I told you he called in a story from the detective bureau, I guess, the main police station. That sounds so silly—"main police station."

 

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Currie: I think that's what they call it, though.

Eads: Anyway, he called in the story. This was toward the end of his career, just before he died. It was sort of pathetic, I think, because he'd covered a lot of big stories and was an ace reporter, you know. He is in the play. But this story, I had to take it over the phone because, I guess, some of the guys were busy. It was some petty little feature story about somebody's dog. It was a fairly decent story, but it just seemed so menial, that's all I remember. I did go to his funeral, and there weren't a lot of people at the funeral that I went to, which was on the near North Side in Chicago. There were some policemen and fellow journalists. It was kind of sad. I kept thinking to myself, "What if he could just rise up and see who came?" You know.

Currie: What do you think he would have thought?

Eads: I think he would have been sort of disappointed.

Currie: He was kind of a legend.

Eads: I didn't know him that well, you know, but everybody seemed to be very fond of him. I told you that for the opening of "The Front Page" in New York, in the theater, MacArthur and Hecht had a special box seat for Hildy to sit in. The day before he was supposed to leave for New York, he got run down on a main street in Chicago and had to be taken to the hospital. I think he had a broken leg, or something.

Currie: That's too bad. He missed his moment.

I also noticed in the clips on your transcontinental airplane flight, they say you're 20 years old in the clips. That was in 1927, so you would have been a little older.

Eads: Those clips are right.

Currie: I thought they said you were a 20-year-old.

Eads: I think I was in my twenties.

Currie: Yes, you were in your twenties. You would have been about 26 in 1927.

Eads: That's about right. See, it's 1988 and I'm 87. My birthday is in May.

Currie: So you would have been 26 in 1927.

Eads: I guess so. They weren't lying about it.

Currie: I was just wondering. When you were in Chicago, whose newspaper work did you admire most?

Eads: There were a couple of women on the Chicago Tribune that I thought were pretty good, and I think one was Kathleen McLaughlin. I'm not sure, you see. It was so long ago. She worked there and she went to New York, and there were other women on the Herald Examiner, those older two women I told you about.

Currie: What was it about their work that you thought was good?

Eads: Just their ability. I mean, the assignments they got, for one thing, and then the way they handled it. Their writing was very good. Sometimes I thought their writing was much better than some of the writing that the men did.

 

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Currie: What kinds of assignments did they get?

Eads: I don't know. Interviewing important people, I think. I didn't envy the assignment; I just thought that their ability to handle it was much more experienced than I thought mine was. But I really never felt very inferior.

Currie: You didn't? You felt self-confident?

Eads: No, I just did my job, they printed everything I wrote, with a few corrections. So you just don't think about it.

Currie: A term I've heard you use, and I think used as a compliment for reporters is: he or she is a "crack reporter." What do you think this meant?

Eads: Just the same as it goes along with the word "darb" and "flapper." I don't know. A crack rifleman, a crack cop.

Currie: So a crack reporter is someone who—

Eads: It's not anybody who takes crack. Not anybody who takes dope like in New York today. Now they talk about crack. I'd never heard of it before.

Currie: That's true. That's a whole different meaning.

Eads: Yes. It was a compliment. I'd rather have that kind of a compliment from the men reporters or anybody, than just say, "She's a wonderful reporter." I don't know how to explain it.

Currie: In Chicago you said you did a number of interesting interviews. I think you said you interviewed Amelia Earhart.

Eads: All the people who were in the news in those days, opera singers and politicians. I did a series on the leading businesswomen in Chicago, people like Fanny May, you know, the candy woman. I may get these mixed up with federal positions. Like Mabel Rhineke was treasurer of the United States at one time. You see, this is why I'm hesitant about talking about these things that far back. With my clippings I could do it.

Currie: Maybe we can go back and look at some of the clippings at some point. Generally, can you say how you would prepare for an interview?

Eads: I just got together my pen and pad and went. [Laughter.]

Currie: Did you do a lot of background reading?

Eads: No. I got that from them. When you start talking to somebody, ordinarily you sort of knew who they were and where they came from. If it was Podunk or someplace like that, you'd know, before they took office.

Currie: Do you remember your interview with Amelia Earhart and what you thought of her?

Eads: No, except that I remember reading my own story, that I thought she was very refined and feminine for the type of thing she was getting into, and dedicated, not really a show-off, you know, wanting to do something just to get her name in the paper. I still wonder what happened to her.

 

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Currie: It's still a mystery.

Is there anything in Chicago that we haven't covered?

Eads: I think there's a lot of stuff we haven't covered, little side stories and things like that. Besides the expose on night life, I did one on what they called "dime-a-dance" girls, you know, dance halls.

Currie: Ten cents a dance?

Eads: I posed as one of them. Again, Seymour accompanied me, and I danced with just anybody who came up and wanted to dance. Sometimes I got scared because I was afraid nobody would ask me, even at ten cents a dance. I would dance with these guys. I think I said in one of the articles that butcher and baker, every type of person, they wouldn't have been my choosing otherwise, but it made kind of a good story. I didn't like that assignment very well.

Currie: Why didn't you?

Eads: I didn't like the people I had to dance with. There was another one that they started. I don't remember. I've forgotten what it was. Then, of course, I did that series on the women.

Currie: The businesswomen in Chicago.

Eads: Yes. They were really tops.

Currie: Was that unusual to highlight the businesswomen?

Eads: It was then.

Currie: Was that your idea?

Eads: I don't think so. You ask me so many embarrassing questions!

Currie: I don't mean to embarrass you.

Eads: The trouble is that I can't remember exactly how I happened to cover that story, or what I said, or how I did it.

Currie: I'm not trying to embarrass you. I'm just trying to find out as much as I can.

Eads: That's the way I did! So you remember that.

Currie: What?

Eads: That you're trying to find out all you can. I guess maybe you did prepare to come and see me, but you're doing your job, and that's the way I did mine.

Currie: So you would sometimes ask questions like that?

Eads: Yes.

Currie: Sometimes it's hard for me, because there are questions that I don't want to ask, but I feel I have to.

Eads: That's right. After all, it isn't so terrible, is it?

 

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Currie: No, it isn't. Most people feel pretty confident, and if they don't want to tell you, they'll say, "I don't want to tell you." It's not so bad. I think the anticipation is worse.

Eads: Yes. It's just like when you interview anybody in a big government job, they have to be pretty careful what they say because it could be misinterpreted.

Currie: Usually they're pretty good about that.

Eads: Sometimes they get in a lot of hot water for what they say. It could be the most innocent thing in the world.

Currie: That has happened a lot. Did that ever happen to you?

Eads: I can't remember.

Currie: Of course, the kind of interviews I do are different, at this point, at any rate.

Eads: And you can always cross them out.

Currie: Yes, but I have done other kinds of interviews that I'm very careful and very aware and try to be real clear about it. So it's hard.

We were talking about your dime-a-dance series.

Eads: It didn't run as long as the other one, and it didn't attract as much attention, but it was sort of a follow-up. The expose was so successful, I guess the papers thought, "Why not try this?"

Currie: Seymour was your escort again?

Eads: Very reluctantly on that one. I don't blame him.

Currie: Because he really didn't dance with you at all?

Eads: No, he sort of had to stay in the background a little bit. I was there and these people asked me to dance. I had danced with him and talked with him; I knew his background.

Currie: Right. And he probably wouldn't have been in a dime-a-dance hall anyway.

Eads: No. That series, I don't think was too successful. I can hardly remember it.

Currie: We talked about the reason you left Chicago eventually. They wouldn't give you a raise.

Eads: That was part of it. Mainly I wanted to go to New York. You know that. I told you. This sort of triggered it. So I went.

Currie: Was working on the AP in New York different from working on the Herald Examiner? If so, in what way?

Eads: They had to think in terms of national, all the newspapers that they served, which was all over the whole United States. They had to think in terms of the importance of a story, even a small story, to out-of-town papers. You can write a lot of stuff about things in your own town. I mean, but that was that. Then the staff, we didn't go out on just any old little story.

 

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In New York, I guess I ought to tell you about one thing. I never took typing lessons, and I never had shorthand. I don't know shorthand from Greek. I type with one hand, this way. [Demonstrates method.] Can you imagine that this stage in my life, I use this.

Currie: So you use one hand to do the letters and one hand to space.

Eads: Wherever I worked, the men in the office and others would come and stand behind me and start laughing, because I wrote just as fast as anybody with two hands.

Currie: That's really interesting.

Eads: I just now told you that, but if I sat down and started to write, I'd probably do it again that way, the same thing, because that's the way I know how to type. Most people use the first two fingers of both hands to type.

Currie: Right, to hunt and peck. Did people know the touch system?

Eads: I don't think they had it then.

Currie: So they would type with two fingers, most of them?

Eads: Not most people, no. Most people, I think, knew how to type with both hands, like everybody types.

Currie: Using all their fingers? That's how I type.

Eads: They typed just like you type.

Currie: Did a lot of people take shorthand?

Eads: I don't know. Most people seemed to be taking shorthand when we were covering speeches.

Currie: So you would take notes in longhand?

Eads: Yes, because I'd sort of skip around. I didn't have any signals, codes, or anything for this. Sometimes it was pretty difficult keeping up, really.

Currie: I would think so.

Eads: I think that and my lack of background on foreign affairs and various things like that, not so much in the beginning, but later, was a handicap in a way. I mean, I felt it. I think journalists today are a lot more experienced in their craft. Most of them know how to type or take shorthand or whatever they use now. Probably computers.

Currie: A lot of people use computers. A lot of people even have lap-top computers.

Eads: There are things now that we never heard of in our day. It's a whole new world.

Currie: When you would write a story, would you type it?

Eads: I never thought about it. It never occurred to me how I typed; it was just getting the story down, getting it out, getting it to the city desk, and having it put in the paper. It's the same way as when I went out on a story. All I would do is run out of the building and grab a cab. My boss said I had taxi cab feet. He even said that in Washington.

 

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Currie: Taxi cab feet? What does that mean?

Eads: That I'd rather take a taxi cab than walk or get there any other way.

Currie: There's actually a funny story in a clip that you gave me to read, about one of the stories that you covered. You were only at the AP for about a year or so in New York. You covered the Bruno Hauptman trial.

Eads: Yes, the end of the trial. That was after I came back from Paris.

Currie: So that was much later. We'll get to that. We're still in the early thirties in New York. In 1931 you married Seymour Berkson. So you spent about a year at the AP in New York?

Eads: The first time in New York, yes.

Currie: And you did general-assignment reporting?

Eads: Yes. For instance, I covered when [Thomas A.] Edison died, the death watch in New Jersey.

Currie: What was that like?

Eads: You see, he lived in New Jersey, and he was dying. All the news press sent a representative there, and we stayed in his garage on the estate. The doctors would come out and give us a report every so often. I did this for the AP until they finally found out I was the only woman doing it, and they called me in and sent a man instead. That's the only time I can remember, and I didn't mind it at all because I didn't particularly like being out there. I didn't spend the night out there, or anything, but I spent all the time in that garage. I learned how to play poker and to drink applejack.

Currie: What's applejack?

Eads: You don't know what applejack is? Well, during Prohibition, it was like a brandy made from apples. A lot of people were drinking applejack because it wasn't difficult to get.

Currie: So a lot of it was waiting?

Eads: Oh, yes, that's all we did practically. Maybe at 6:00 in the evening they'd come with a medical report, a briefing, or whatever you call it. Then at 8:00 or at 10:00 in the morning. I went back to the office and they sent a man out. Edison died after that. I wasn't there for the death. But I wrote a big story about his wife, his widow.

Currie: So they made a press room in his garage. How would you call in to the AP?

Eads: We'd call in.

Currie: Did they say why they replaced you with a man?

Eads: No, but I got wind of it afterwards. I wasn't unhappy about it. I think they made it sort of clear. You know, just sitting around day in and day out with all those men, there were other considerations, too, like the john and stuff like that.

Currie: So they thought it was hard on you to be out there with all those men?

 

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Eads: I think they thought that more than anything. Just altogether, I don't think they made a big issue of male against female; they just thought maybe it would be better. That's all I can remember about it. It wasn't a big thing in my life at all. I barely remember it.

One time I went to see Theodore Dreiser. He had an apartment on East Central Park. It was near Central Park, anyway, a big building. It was his birthday, some birthday. I went up in the elevator, and a girl came to the door, a fairly young person, and she said he wasn't seeing anybody. She didn't let me in. I saw some things on a shelf. Toys? I never got to talk to him, but I think it's sort of interesting that she did the talking. She was quite young. I think they were living together.

Currie: Did you ever find out who she was?

Eads: No. Anyway, I don't think we used the story.

Currie: What happened to make you leave the AP that first time?

Eads: I went to Rome, Italy.

Currie: For your husband's job?

Eads: Yes.

Currie: How did you feel about going to Rome?

Eads: I couldn't wait! [Laughter.] I thought it was absolutely marvelous! I loved Rome almost more than anything. Oh, it was just beautiful and so interesting. I had a beautiful apartment that I picked out. We'd go out on our terrace and look out and see all seven hills of Rome. You know, the life and everything, it was just a fascinating city.

Currie: I like Rome myself.

Eads: I got there the eleventh year of fascism, and they were celebrating it with a parade. Because of my husband's job as chief of the bureau in Rome, we got a special invitation for a special seating place for this parade. King Emmanuel was there, and Mussolini, both. We'd been there hardly more than a week or two, and it was fascinating to me. It was near the Forum Romano, we called it, the ruins, you know. They came on motorcycles, one part of the parade. Carbinieri, they call them. They were in uniform and had hats that had big feathers. I remember thinking about how unusual this was for that century, as compared with the early days of the Roman conquerors and all, coming that way. You know, the gladiators and all. It was still a fascist country. The ordinary people were scared to death all the time of being punished if they said anything against Mussolini.

Currie: Did you meet Mussolini?

Eads: No, but I saw him many times. We also had a semi-private audience with the pope, and I had to wear a long dress with long sleeves, a veil over my head. There were only about five or six other people there. It was fascinating, interesting, in the Vatican.

Currie: So your husband was chief of the Hearst bureau in Rome. Did you continue writing once you got to Rome?

Eads: I didn't write in Rome at all. I had thought about it, and then I just didn't. There was one story I almost did write. At one of the big hotels there, I got to know a lot of the people, like the desk clerk and people like that. One time the clerk told me about

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Lord Mountbatten and some woman, or it could have been Lady Mountbatten, but it was two very well-known Britishers who were not married, who met there, had a rendezvous around in the daytime, sort of. I thought that would be a real shocker, but I never reported it. I'm glad. It wasn't worth it.

Currie: What was your husband's responsibility, and how did your life fit into that?

Eads: We were invited to a lot of functions, and I was busy all the time. The wives of other newspapermen, we were together all the time. I had so much to see and do in Rome, the museums and various places, and I had a little dressmaker on the far end of town. It just was so wonderful to me to see the paintings of Michelangelo and hear the music in the churches. It was absolutely fabulous. The old buildings and the gardens and the people, everything was new. I liked the Italians very much. I had a hard time speaking Italian, but it wasn't so difficult to learn as French. Italians were all so patient.

There were all sorts of problems about tipping, when you'd take the carriage around, and when they'd take you to your destination. I remember giving a bunch of coins to some driver, and he just spat and threw them on the floor. I couldn't figure it out until they told me that all I'd given him were a bunch of pennies. I thought I was being very generous.

Currie: Did Hearst provide you with a place to live?

Eads: They paid our expenses. You see, this was during the Depression, too, so that was difficult. We couldn't spend the money we would have if it hadn't been the Depression. I mean, I could have gone out and shopped and bought a lot of things that I wanted. I did have a maid. She finally went nuts and they had to put her in an asylum. That wasn't because she was working for me, though.

[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]

Eads: I was very lucky in the help I got when I was in Europe, both there and in Paris. Wonderful cooks in both places, very special. The place I lived in Rome was the top of a private residence, right on the Spanish steps, La Scala d'Espagne. That's one of the top tourist spots in Italy, all of Italy. It was beautiful. I've got a painting out there. We could look out of one of our windows every morning and see people going down the steps from the top. We were up at the top of the Spanish steps to the right as you look, going this way. It was wonderful. You'd see women with the flowers in stalls. So many women sold their flowers down at the bottom. And you'd see priests of different nationalities, with different colored sashes, belts, and nuns, just tourists. It was a constant parade of humanity that was very interesting.

Currie: It was an interesting time to be there, too, because it was fascist. Did you have any feelings about them?

Eads: I didn't like them. I used to feel very badly about the people, how afraid they were. There was one thing that all women heard about and all looked forward to, and I believe it—they would say they didn't—but you'd have your fanny pinched in Rome and other places in Italy. It was a favorite custom. I'd been there several months and nobody had pinched my fanny, and I was very upset about it, until one time we went to sort of a fiesta. I don't know if it was Halloween or Easter or what. In an old marketplace in Rome, a lot of young people scurrying around in groups, it was just noisy and fun, and we were with two older people. All of a sudden, I let out a yell, and said, "They did it!" When anybody in a group like that would let out a yell, it scattered these kids, just went every direction, because they were afraid that they would be taken into custody, that somebody had yelled and there was trouble. It was very funny.

Currie: I think they still do do that.

 

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Eads: Oh, sure, they do.

Currie: How long were you in Rome?

Eads: Over two years. Then we got a call one early morning from Hearst, transferring Seymour to Paris as chief of bureau.

Currie: Did they say why they were transferring him?

Eads: They said I should do a column for them. They would like it if I would do a column from Paris, and that's where all those columns came from.

Currie: Why did they transfer your husband?

Eads: It was a bigger job, and I think the one who had been there was sent back to the United States or something.

Currie: So it was a promotion?

Eads: Definitely.

Currie: And they also wanted you to do a column. What kind of column did they want you to do?

Eads: You saw. It all was a Paris date line. I would have several different stories about different people. All of them nearly were about Americans abroad. That was the idea of the column, about Americans abroad. Then at the end of every column, I used to write about the best-dressed American women in Paris.

Currie: I noticed that.

Eads: They all followed that pattern. Then during the boutique openings, I covered those.

Currie: The Paris fashion shows?

Eads: Yes. Hearst didn't want to give any promotional publicity to Paris. He had a thing about Paris. He had been angered because of something they did to one of his men one time. I think it was a correspondent or a bureau chief at one point, who had probably overstepped his bounds and made the French government furious, and they expelled him. I think that was it. Hearst swore many times that he would never set foot on French soil again. But along about this time, he was with a group of movie stars. He didn't have Marian Davies with him, but he had another group. I don't know whether he came to Paris or not, but he came to France. His group of friends came to Paris, however.

I kept talking about the fashions, and there were several people there from Hearst publications, like Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. I think at that time they were under Hearst. They argued that the fashions ought to be covered, because there was a lot of interest, a lot of American houses were buying French fashions. I got on their list, all the fashion houses, and I got invitations when the rest of the people did. I usually got a front seat at the openings. It was fun.

Currie: Did you have to learn to speak French?

Eads: No. No, I didn't have to learn to speak Italian either.

 

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Currie: How did you get your stories?

Eads: Mostly in English. In Paris, people spoke English a lot. Especially in some of these fashion openings, they all had American press secretaries or their equivalent. No difficulty at all.

Currie: As you say, all your stories were about Americans in Paris.

Eads: Mainly.

Currie: How did you go about setting up so you could get all this information on people?

Eads: I would go to places like the Ritz bar, and people would tell me. I had different sources that I'd call. Sometimes I'd see a hint of something in one of the French papers. I didn't read French very well, but Seymour did. He didn't ever help me.

Currie: He didn't?

Eads: He had enough to do. He was very busy.

Currie: In looking at some of your clips, it seems like you also did some early stories on the Prince of Wales and Mrs. [Wallis Warfield] Simpson.

Eads: I didn't interview them. You know how news gets around. You don't have to talk to people. I verified everything. I don't know how I did that, but anyway, that was legitimate. Then, of course, there was a photographer who took that picture.

Currie: I remember you said to me that this may have been a scoop that you had about Mrs. Simpson.

Eads: A lot of papers in the United States, we always found out how our stories ran in the United States, and about other papers, too. Everybody talked about it. Everybody in Paris that I knew, knew about my column.

Currie: So the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson, nobody knew about in the U.S. until you wrote this story?

Eads: I said I was one of the first to have it.

Currie: That's pretty good.

Eads: I think so. [Laughter.]

Currie: I'm impressed that you were able to move around so easily. How long did you live in Paris?

Eads: Only about two years or so. I got very ill in Paris. It was after I started that column. I had an infection of the kidneys, and I didn't realize. This was right after I had Barbara.

Currie: So you also had your child in Paris.

Eads: We had an American doctor, and at first we just thought it was a bad cold, you know, the flu or something, but it got worse and I was in bed for almost a month and a half or maybe two. I still tried to do my column when I was able to use a phone and stuff. I wasn't able to write it. So that set me back a little bit.

 

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Currie: What was the most difficult thing about doing this column?

Eads: I don't think I ever had any real difficulty with it. Getting it out on time, it was cabled to the United States, to our office, once a week. I don't remember having any [difficulty].

Currie: You also had your daughter while you were in Paris doing the column.

Eads: I was pregnant most of the time, even when I went to the openings. I had a marvelous black coat that I had made by a tailor in Rome, and it had a cape like the Carbinieri soldiers wore. It was real wide, and I'd throw one side over my shoulder. Then it sort of covered me.

Currie: Was it unusual to see a pregnant woman reporter?

Eads: I don't know. There weren't a lot of women reporters in Paris, for one thing, but I didn't notice that. I didn't come into contact too much with that group because I was in a special office on the Rue de la Paix. I just worked out of the office. I used to go to different places with friends, like the Ritz bar was one of my favorite places, and that's where I got a lot of my material.

I was pretty sick for several weeks.

Currie: Was your illness before or after your daughter was born?

Eads: All this happened after my daughter was born. I had a German nurse who spoke French only, French and German, who came. I got her at the hospital. She came home with us and stayed, even came to America with us after we came back, and stayed with us until I got my divorce.

Currie: Yesterday you mentioned that when you had your daughter, you had a nurse and a maid. You said that made things easier.

Eads: Vastly easier. The maid did all the work and cooking. She was one of those super cooks. People just loved to have dinner at our house.

Currie: Do you think you would have been able to work if you hadn't had help?

Eads: Oh, yes. Sure. I didn't have any help for the rest of my life.

Currie: When you were in Paris, who were your friends?

Eads: Mostly wives of newspapermen or the newspapermen themselves. They were a great group of people. A lot of them you would probably recognize the names in the Press Club. I knew that we knew David Schoenbrun, who just died recently, but I don't know where we met him. That was quite a while ago, and there are so many people in life at various places. I didn't spend a lot of time in the bureau in Paris.

Currie: Your daughter was born in 1934.

Eads: I guess she wasn't but nine months old when we came back to the United States.

Currie: Why did you come back to the United States?

Eads: Because Seymour was transferred to the New York bureau. He later became publisher of the Journal American.

 

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Universal merged with INS later, but not until after we came back. He was still with Universal Service.

Currie: So you would have come back about 1936 to New York.

Eads: Then we got a divorce along about that time, and I went to his boss, who was chief of the bureau then, and asked if I could get a job. He knew about our problem. I mean, he was a trifler himself.

Currie: I don't understand.

Eads: Seymour was—other women, mainly one. His boss also was a womanizer, and he said to me, "Oh, why don't you just skip it? When he comes home at night, just move over and say, 'Come on, come to bed.'"

I looked at him and said, "I can't do that. Maybe your wife can, but I can't." I said, "I want this job. I just can't live with that sort of thing."

So that was that. I got the job and a nice letter from him that I would be an asset to the bureau, and I was the only woman at Universal Service in Washington. That office, at that time, was in the building that had the Times Herald in it, and Cissy Patterson was publisher of it.

Currie: When you went to him and asked for the job, he gave you a job in Washington.

Eads: Yes.

Currie: Did you want to go to Washington?

Eads: That's what I wanted.

Currie: So you got a divorce, and Seymour stayed in New York?

Eads: Yes. He was one of the big—

Currie: Mucky-mucks.

Eads: Yes.

Currie: That's hard, getting a divorce, having a young daughter, moving to a new city.

Eads: I left Barbara there with a nurse. Then the nurse told me one time on the phone that Barbara's father had brought this other woman to the apartment on Easter or something. I thought, "To hell with that." So I made arrangements to have them come to Washington, the nurse and Barbara. So they came to Washington and stayed with me ever since. We got divorced shortly after that.

Currie: Why did you want to move to Washington?

Eads: I don't know. I didn't want to stay in New York. What else? [Laughter.] I didn't want to go to New Jersey or Boston. I just wanted to go where the big news was, and Washington at that time was one of the biggest news centers in the world. Still is.

Currie: You were the only woman in the bureau. What were you going to be covering?

 

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Eads: The first thing I did was a series on women in politics. I interviewed all of them. There were only about five or six in Congress. Hattie Caraway, you saw that picture of me with her was one of them.

Currie: Senator from Arkansas.

Eads: There were several other areas to cover such as social news, which was always interesting because you see everybody there. I mean, senators, Supreme Court [justices], diplomats. I covered one big funeral service in the House of Representatives. I've got a picture of me sitting up there in the press gallery.

Then Universal Service and INS merged. I don't know how long after that, maybe a couple of months or so. And Cissy had an office in this building, she was a prima donna and absolutely fabulous. She'd sweep in with long mink coats down to her ankles, give orders. One time she looked in the city room, spotted a guy sitting at a desk, and said, "I don't like him. Get rid of him." She didn't really know his work, I don't think, too well. Anyway, they did it; they got rid of him. [Tape interruption.]

Currie: You came down with Universal Service. That was Hearst. INS was totally separate?

Eads: INS was Hearst, too. It was afternoon newspapers. Universal was for morning newspapers.

Currie: So there were two news services.

Eads: All under Hearst, and usually in the same building.

Currie: Then they merged.

Eads: Yes. They each had different managing editors, or bosses.

Currie: How did you get involved with Cissy Patterson?

Eads: Our office was in that building, and she knew about this, of course. Anyway, she was very friendly with everybody, all the Hearst people.

Currie: She was very friendly with William Randolph Hearst, as I recall.

Eads: Yes. I don't know too much about that, but anyway, I think she called me in and said she could use me, she'd give me a job, not to worry. So I was glad, you know. I had a job there and I wanted to stay there.

Currie: So you lost your job on Universal Service as a result of the merger?

Eads: Quite a few people did, but nearly everyone got another job with some big outfit because it was a pretty special staff. Cissy said she was going to have me do clubs, and she said, "You won't like it, but they'll like you, the club will." Well, I did that for about a year and it was a tough job. You see, in Washington, all the national headquarters of all these clubs around the country, women's clubs, are in Washington. Like the DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] and all the others. It was important. I mean, the clubs in Sunday papers would have two or three pages of news. I used to go down and make up the page, like the copy desk. I didn't write the heads for the articles, but I made up the page, I measured how much type and how long the story, and I'd draw sort of in, like that. I'd be there many, many mornings until 2:00 in the morning. There were other people who worked late, too. We'd go and have a drink at a bar, and then I'd go home in a cab. Usually not too happy about that; I was kind of afraid

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sometimes at night, you know. Right at that time, I lived in another place in Washington on Kalorama Road in an apartment building. What is the big building on the corner of Kalorama and Connecticut?

Currie: There's one called the Dresden.

Eads: No, the Dresden was across the street. This was on the other side of the street. The Maret School, the French school, used to be next door to it. Down that street was the French Embassy. There was a little triangle out in front of it, where people waited for the bus, right by the bridge.

Currie: Yes, it's still there.

Eads: I used to be kind of scared.

Currie: Why?

Eads: There were purse-snatchers and all kinds of things happening, screams from adjacent Rock Creek Park, people in trouble, I guess.

Currie: My goodness! And you lived through Al Capone's Chicago!

Eads: Yes, but this bothered me more than anything.

Currie: How long did you stay at the Times Herald?

Eads: I did all sorts of things there, too. I did some fashion for Cissy, and then I just became fed up with that sort of a job, and I wanted to go to New York. I had always wanted to go to New York. I met, through some friends, a man who worked for J. Walter Thompson. I guess they arranged for me to have a date with him or something. I kept telling him what I wanted.

There was an opening in the publicity department of J. Walter Thompson, and I got that job. The account that I had was Life Insurance of America, the top life insurance company. You know, J. Walter Thompson was one of the biggest advertising agencies. It was on 42nd and Second Avenue in New York. I moved, finally, to Bronxville, New York, and I had a lovely apartment out there. I got Barbara into a public school.

By then I had a housekeeper, an old-maidish type, who neither swore nor drank and I think didn't approve, particularly, of me, but she loved Barbara and was so good to her. She stayed with me until Barbara left to go to school. She did the housekeeping and everything. So I had her. Before her, I had a group of different kinds of maids and nurses to take care of Barbara, and I worried all the time I was working, about getting home and leaving her with somebody I didn't know.

But then I'd been in New York with J. Walter Thompson and I arranged fashion presentations to go with publicity. It was the New York Dress Institute.

Currie: So you worked for the life insurance company and the Dress Institute?

Eads: I finally got out of the life insurance to the other job, when the other contract showed up, when they wanted publicity. They went to J. Walter Thompson and got it. They put me on this writing publicity, just to go around to different dress-making houses and getting photographs of different dresses with different models. I didn't like working at J. Walter Thompson because I couldn't wear my hat in the office.

 

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Currie: I noticed that in a clip. When did you start wearing hats?

Eads: I don't know. I wore them in Washington. I don't know. I don't remember when.

Currie: But it became your trademark to have a hat on all the time?

Eads: I wouldn't say that, but that's what they make of it.

Currie: That's what they say in the clips about you.

Eads: Yes.

Currie: But you wouldn't say that?

Eads: No. I'd make my own hats sometimes, too.

Currie: Why wouldn't they let you wear hats?

Eads: They didn't let any women wear hats, or men, in the office. It was in the office. My boss was a real old fuss-budget, and he loved writing about the New York horse show. He liked social events. He had other accounts, too. Real fussy about my copy. I'd have to go over whether this verb was the right one.

Anyway, then along came Pearl Harbor, and everybody in the office had to go—see, I wasn't a crack advertising expert; I was publicity. I was fairly new at J. Walter Thompson. But anyway, everybody went into this auditorium to hear [Franklin D.] Roosevelt declare war. Then I made up my mind, "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going back to Washington if they'll take me." And as soon as I could, I went downstairs at Grand Central Station—our office was over that—to a telephone booth and called the AP in Washington and talked to them. Then I wrote to them and I finally got a job.

Currie: So you wanted to be back where the action was going to be?

Eads: I had worked for AP before. They don't ordinarily take anybody back who ever quit.

Currie: Oh, really?

Eads: Well, it used to be the talk—I don't know how they are now.

Currie: That's interesting, that if someone quit, they wouldn't take you back.

Eads: Well, they didn't in those days. Anyway, they took me.

Anyway, I didn't know the person I called about the job. I did know one of the other top men on the AP. I didn't know him too well, but he was one of the top, most popular and favorite. He died several years after that.

Currie: Do you remember who that was?

Eads: Byron Price. Anyway, I went to work for the AP.

Currie: It was a switch for you to go into publicity from being a reporter.

Eads: Yes.

 

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Currie: How was it different working as a reporter and working in publicity?

Eads: Because I was trying to promote a certain product, like a dress or a house, designers' clothes. I did like fashions, you know. I told you that. That always appealed to me, but getting a photographer and setting, standing around waiting for the model to get ready to pose, and then getting this little story captioned under the picture, okayed, and all that stuff, it was a bore, and it wasn't worth it. It went to a lot of papers, but that had no byline on it or anything. They were getting credit for this; it was like another job.

Currie: Did it pay better than the newspaper?

Eads: Yes, I got a little more, but not much. What I did was have fun doing was going out to lunch and being able to go to Saks Fifth Avenue and shop around. They gave me a secretary, and that's a story. That's a real good story. That's how I met Griff [Griffing Bancroft], partly.

Currie: Oh, wonderful!

[End Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]

Currie: Right before I turned on the tape, you were saying that you had remembered that you covered the Roosevelts earlier in Washington, the first time, and you had one specific memory.

Eads: It was his second inaugural. As all inaugurals, it was held on Capitol Hill. I went up there, and I went in the Capitol Building. Nowadays you have to have passes and some kind of entre to get in, and especially you don't get up in the Capitol, up where they sat, in the top where you could look out in the balcony, where you could look out over the steps and the crowds. I found myself there, right behind the family, with a few other reporters, not many. I remember a couple, these women, one was a woman reporter from the [Washington] Times Herald, Cissy's paper. It was kind of interesting to be that close, and you could see everything and practically touch them. I just wanted to mention that because that never happened again.

Currie: You never got that close to the Roosevelts again?

Eads: Yes, in other ways, but I hadn't been in Washington very long when this happened, and then I went to the White House that afternoon. She [Eleanor Roosevelt] had a reception for the wives of congressmen and so forth. I remember how lovely she looked. She wasn't a beautiful woman, but her personality came out. I got to thinking that she was quite a lovely person. There was a ball, I think, that night. It's hard to remember that far back, but I remember at this reception it was mostly for women, and it was that same day of the inaugural. I think there was something big that night. I guess it was the inaugural ball or something, because it was a long day. I covered that part of it, the family and so forth, that whole day. I don't remember too much.

Where I got a little confused, you see, the war in Europe had started before we got into it, and there was a lot of thinking about it in Washington and other places, of course. I came back to Washington for the Associated Press then, you see. That's when I covered Mrs. Roosevelt's press conferences.

Currie: That's when you came back, after Pearl Harbor, that you covered her press conferences.

Eads: Yes. I came back and worked for Associated Press when the war broke out.

Currie: That was after your stint with J. Walter Thompson.

 

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Eads: Yes.

Currie: You did some coverage of the Bruno Hauptman trial.*

Eads: That was right after we got back from Paris, and we were going through this process. We hadn't really gotten a divorce yet. We were talking about it. We weren't on the best of terms, but we were still living in the same apartment. Then I went to Trenton, New Jersey. Hauptman got a reprieve. I don't think you remember that. He was sentenced, and then he got a reprieve, and that's when I was there. There were a lot of reporters there. Damon Runyon was one. I remember one night there was only another woman there that I saw, and I didn't go into the courtroom, but the word came out. I was with Mrs. Hauptman. I'd interviewed her before that a couple of times, because she was in the same hotel we were. She was waiting for her son, a little boy. I didn't see him. She was very happy and cried a lot, too, when they got the reprieve, but it didn't hold up. He finally was sentenced.

Currie: Was this a re-trial that you were covering?

Eads: I don't remember. I was only there less than a week.

Currie: There's a funny story in one article that you gave me to read. I guess you covered that for Universal Service. There's a funny story in one profile of you about how whoever assigned you to this story said, "Follow Jafsie." Who's Jafsie?

Eads: There were many characters in the kidnapping story, and there were a number of people who offered to pay the ransom. He was one of them. Nobody could figure out exactly why he wanted to pay the ransom, except maybe publicity or something. He lived in the Bronx or someplace outside of New York, or Brooklyn. Reporters around the clock were watching that house where he lived. He lived alone, but he had a great big guard with him who drove a car. It was a young man, sort of a personal guard, because I guess there were threats and everything. He was very irrational. He would open the upper-story window of his house and do something with a flag, a white flag or something. Then once in a while he'd get in a car and drive off someplace with this man.

When they sent me on the story, they said, "Follow him." Well, if you're covering a person in any capacity in a news story, you stick with them, wherever they go. I didn't know many of these other reporters. They were sitting on the curbstone out there. They had their own cars, a number of them, but they didn't invite me to come with them when they started following him. There was a cab somewhere near, and I grabbed the cab. I said to him to follow him. I didn't want to go alone, so there was some young photographer, or he might have been a reporter, but not with any big paper, and he went with me. He had nothing to do, and he didn't take any notes. But we followed Jafsie, and every once in a while, and once or twice he got out of the car and we'd start following him, and it would be nature calling. [Laughter.] Then this guy would turn around to lose us. We went through a little town, and I think we got up as far as Connecticut. He went through a stop light, and we went through, too, and we got stopped.

I called the office. I got out of the car, called the office, and AP sent a bulletin to all newspapers. I said, "Jafsie didn't get arrested, I did!" We didn't really get arrested, but we were admonished.

Anyway, we got up as far as Connecticut. That's quite a distance for an assignment.

Currie: In a taxi, too!

______________________
* Bruno Hauptman was accused of kidnapping the son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

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Eads: Yes. I had an expense account. So when I got back, they laughed. We got the expense account money, and my particular boss, my city editor, was a wonderful guy.

Currie: Who was your city editor?

Eads: Bill Chaplin was one of them. He okayed the expense account. We got the money and we went out and spent it on cocktails.

Currie: You and the photographer?

Eads: There were several of us. We gathered up several other people who wanted to get in on it. Of course, I think it came out of my money, anyway, in the end.

Currie: What kind of bulletin did they put out over the AP wire?

Eads: They do that all the time. That's a common practice, whenever there's a development in any big story.

Currie: They put a bulletin saying what?

Eads: Jafsie was the leading character at that moment in the Lindbergh kidnapping story. They hadn't found the kidnapper yet. They didn't have Bruno Hauptman.

Currie: This is before they captured Bruno Hauptman.

Eads: Oh, yes. This was before they had any suspect, really.

Currie: I see. So they put out a bulletin saying he was in Connecticut?

Eads: I don't know what they said. They just said that he was arrested.

Currie: So they got it wrong; they said that Jafsie was arrested.

Eads: Yes. They were talking about it on the phone. They said, "We've just put out a bulletin."

I said, "Oh, my God! Jafsie wasn't arrested; I was!" So they had to send another bulletin out to the newspapers all over the country, telling them it was a mistake.

Currie: That's funny. Did you stick with Jafsie for the duration?

Eads: No, I think he faded out of the picture. I don't know exactly what did happen to him. I think they found out he didn't really have anything to do with paying the ransom or anything. But I think even Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean offered to pay part of the ransom, or the whole ransom. Some very wealthy person in Washington also. There are all kinds of people, a lot of crazies that got mixed up in this story, and suspects. They were frantic, trying to find out, or to even find the child alive.

Currie: On a story like that, what would newspapers do? Would they try to find suspects, too?

Eads: Imagine the story. If I had gone out and gotten the kidnapper, my God! All over the world! But I don't know whether they did or not. They had a lot of reporters on that story covering all kinds of angles on it. There were many different angles on the story.

Currie: Then you covered the later re-trial?

 

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Eads: Maybe it tells in that story.

Currie: This must have been the big story of the day.

Eads: It was the Lindbergh kidnapping. It wasn't the Hauptman story; it was the Lindbergh kidnapping. Hauptman was the suspect. They had other suspects, too, but they weren't taken into custody. I don't know who they were. They were desperately trying to find the child alive. You see, I was gone in Europe. This was two years after the kidnapping. Jafsie was right at the time of the kidnapping, before the child was found.

I worked on the Lindbergh kidnapping before I went to Europe. I went to Europe, and I didn't come back for a couple of years. When I came back, they had finally found the body of the little boy. This was Hauptman. They got him and found proof that he was the kidnapper. A lot of people still don't agree that he did it. They think he might have not.

Currie: What do you think?

Eads: I think he did it. Of course, you never know.

Currie: What did you think when you interviewed his wife?

Eads: I sympathized with her. Her theory was that this little child had the name of his father. She wanted to change his name so he wouldn't be known as "that little boy." I don't know what's happened to him. He probably did change his name, because I've never heard anything. That was just a couple of weeks, and then I left and went to Washington.

Currie: It was an exciting couple of weeks.

Eads: Yes.

Currie: You said there was only one other woman who covered that during that couple of weeks.

Eads: No, I didn't cover Hauptman in a couple of weeks. I was only there for about three days for that hearing. It was really a hearing. He got a reprieve of several days, like today murderers get reprieves. He got a reprieve, and that's all that was. That was not immediately connected with the kidnapping.

Currie: The kidnapping occurred earlier, but then you came back later.

Eads: The kidnapping came before I went to Europe. Then I came back and I was in New York for a few months, almost a year, I think, before I went to Washington. I went to Washington two different times, and that's what's confusing for you.

Currie: You went to Washington after you came back from Europe, and you stayed there working for the Hearst Service and for Cissy Patterson. Then you went back to New York to work for J. Walter Thompson. Then in 1941, you went back to Washington after Pearl Harbor.

Eads: Yes. We've got that straight.

Currie: When you lived in Paris, where did you actually live?

Eads: I lived in the most wonderful place you can imagine. It's hard to describe this area. It was in a beautiful house, it had a courtyard, and there were a lot of apartments that had been made out of old houses that were all together there. The apartment we had was on the second

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floor, and it was one of the most beautiful homes I've ever been in. It was all furnished by a man and his wife who were Americans and had been head of the Paris bureau of their American magazine in New York. It was like Good Housekeeping or something like that. They had this apartment which, as you came in, had a foyer. Everything was beautiful—you know, collectors' pieces of china and stuff. Then it had quite a large room as a dining room, all of her china and things. Beyond that was a very formal sitting room with French furniture and a baby grand piano. I hardly ever used that room because it was too formal, but there was another room that was a very large room and all had high ceilings. This room had books from the floor to the ceiling, and musical records and comfortable chairs and a fireplace. I just loved that. Then we had a fairly large bedroom, one bathroom, and that was it. We didn't have a guest room.

Currie: Did Hearst pick up the tab for this?

Eads: I don't know. I think Seymour took care of all that. We got a fairly decent salary, but not comparable to what people are getting now by any means. But you see, it was the Depression years. We had a concierge, who would let us in at night and lock the doors downstairs to this courtyard where our apartment was. This is where I got this wonderful maid. One day I was sitting near the dining room. I looked out across this foyer and this kitchen, which I never went into. [Laughter.] This woman was sitting there, and I thought, "What is she doing in my kitchen?" I finally went out and asked her. It turned out that she had been the maid for the people who had been there before, who had gone back to the States and just rented their apartment. Because of the Depression, they didn't have enough money to stay there.

The same thing happened in Rome. The apartment I got in Rome was the apartment of an American woman, with all of her things in it, her furniture, all antiques.

These were Americans who were caught over there during the Depression. Hearst went on paying our salaries, but a lot of publications and businesses didn't pay their employees who lived in Europe. They went home.

Currie: They had to leave behind a lot of the—

Eads: They just left it rented. So I got this maid named Stephanie. She was a Czechoslovakian, and she spoke English, sort of. I say "sort of"—well enough. She is the one I said was the most wonderful cook I ever had.

Currie: I would be happy to have any kind of cook.

Eads: I was happy to have her, because she was just wonderful. I don't know why I get off the subject this way, but the evening before I had Barbara, which was in the morning, Seymour had to work, and he had an English journalist in the office with him. They were going through some business project, and he wasn't going to come home until kind of late. So Stephanie had some pot au feu or something on the stove for dinner when he came home.

In the meantime, I was sitting at the table in the kitchen, taking seeds out of raisins. [Laughter.]

Currie: You didn't like the seeds in the raisins?

Eads: I was going to make an American fruitcake, and I had everything. It was difficult to get things like that for your fruitcakes over there. So I had this all spread out and was doing all these things, a little weary, and it got to be late. Finally, Seymour came home and I put some food on the table. The journalist came in, too, from London. We had drinks. I remember I said, "Don't give me very much, because I feel sort of—" We went to bed, finally, and I woke up having pains.

 

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I said to Seymour, "Maybe we ought to call our doctor, because I'm having these terrible pains. I've got some kind of indigestion of some kind." He called the doctor and told him. I remember he had to go down the hall—this was a different apartment than the first one—down the hall to get the telephone book. The Paris telephone book was like this [Indicates thickness.], the biggest telephone book I ever saw. He came down the hall with it and looked up the doctor's telephone number at home. He called him and told him that Mrs. Berkson had all these pains and thought that she had bad indigestion.

The doctor just said, "Get to the hospital as fast as you can." [Laughter.] Then I had the baby. I didn't know what to take to the hospital, and I'd been getting things, you know. I got a beautiful satin bedjacket with maribou and nightgowns, beautiful things to take to have the baby. I was so flustered about getting ready to get to the hospital, I looked in the drawer and I grabbed a pair of earrings, and I think something to put on my hair.

Anyway, I got to the hospital, and all the way up the Champs Elysées in the cab, every once in a while I didn't feel any pain, and I'd say, "I think we'd better go back. I think it was just a false alarm." And BANG! It kept up. I had the baby the next morning.

Currie: I guess since you didn't have any experience with having children, that's not surprising. That's funny. So you had her in a French hospital?

Eads: No, an American hospital. It was in Neuilly. That's where the races are, I think, too.

Currie: When you were living in Paris was the time when a lot of American expatriates were there. Did you know any of them?

Eads: It was during the Depression. There were a lot of Americans there, and there was an American women's club. We had a lot of friends in Paris, but Seymour tended to be mostly with the French, because that's what he was trying to do.

Currie: He tried to meet French people?

Eads: His business was partly connected with that, politics and everything.

Currie: At that time, I understand that William Randolph Hearst was pretty isolationist.

Eads: He didn't love France at all.

Currie: Politically he didn't want America to get into any kind of European war.

Eads: No. I don't know too much about that.

Currie: Was Ernest Hemingway in Paris around that time?

Eads: No, he wasn't. But we went to all the places where the writers always hung out, and artists. It was really a wonderful place to be, I think, only I didn't like it as well as I did Rome by any means.

Currie: After you got your divorce, did you have to support your daughter by yourself?

Eads: No, but I got child support. I didn't get any alimony.

Currie: Was that a decision that you made?

 

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Eads: Mainly Seymour made it, because he said if I got a divorce and if I got married again, then I would not necessarily have support for my daughter. You see? He had to maintain the support, even if I got married again, which was a smart move, but at times I was very annoyed about it. But he provided very well for Barbara. I was her legal guardian, and every time I'd get money for her schooling or camp or anything, I had to go through the courts to get it. I didn't have a real problem with it, but it was a big headache.

Currie: Did you have to go back to work?

Eads: Well, more or less, yes.

Currie: So it wasn't an option to not work.

Eads: No option. I wanted to.

Currie: Did you know many other women reporters who had children?

Eads: Yes, but some were divorced, and I knew several women in Washington who were divorced and had children. We'd get together and talk about our children and what we wanted to do for them. There was one woman who was from Chicago, and I think she was a very bright woman. I wasn't real close to her from school or anything else, but she had a little boy. Her little boy went to the same French school right next door, Maret School, that Barbara did. It was kindergarten only. This woman's little boy went there, and we got to talking. We decided they should learn how to be a little more sophisticated, and she and I decided we'd take them to a very fancy restaurant for lunch on Sunday. We took them, thinking that they'd pick up a few ideas. But instead of that, they got under the table, and they kept chasing each other around on the floor. [Laughter.] She and I were really baffled by that. I liked her very much, because she had really great ideas about things, but we never did get very far with our children.

Currie: Do you remember what her name was?

Eads: No. She had a husband in Chicago, too. I don't think they were divorced; I think she was just working in Washington for a certain length of time.

Currie: How did most women reporters that you knew who had children, manage having a job and having children?

Eads: They did more or less the same thing that I did. They would get somebody to stay with their child or put them in boarding school.

Currie: Pretty much what we do now, I guess.

Eads: The same thing. Sometimes I think they probably managed better than they do now.

Currie: In what way?

Eads: I don't know, but I didn't ever hear much of any big problems that they had.

Currie: Nobody ever complained about it?

Eads: I don't know any women who don't complain sometime in their life about their maids, or nursemaids, or babysitters. It's just normal.

 

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Currie: That's true. Earlier you said that one of the things J. Walter Thompson had done for you was give you a secretary, and through the secretary you met Griff. Do you want to tell me about that?

Eads: This is after I was in Washington. I had several people that wanted to take me out and things like that, and I went. But one day a girl called me on the phone and said, "This is Thelma." Thelma Martin was her name. She said, "But my name isn't Martin anymore; it's Denlinger. I'm married to a man named Denlinger."

I said, "You have to be kidding!" She was married to one of my very best friends in New York, a newspaperman. She had joined the WACS when the war broke out. She was very funny, sort of old-maidish, kind of good looking and not old at all, but her hair was always stringing around, her petticoat showed, and she was still the secretary to my boss, and was supposed to be my secretary. I never dictated a word to her. All I ever did with her was get her to take a hat back to Saks Fifth Avenue or go out and have lunch with me. So we got to be real friends that way. She said, "Why don't we have lunch?" We had lunch at the Press Club, she and Speed, her husband.

Currie: The National Press Club in Washington?

Eads: Yes. We had such a good time, talking over old times, and she said, "Why don't we get together this evening around 5:30 or 6:00? Why don't you come to where I'm staying. My former boss said we could stay in his apartment in Washington. Why don't you come up? He's a nice guy. Come on up and we'll have drinks at the apartment." So that's what I did. She was telling me about him and said he was sort of quiet and very smart and all that. The doorbell rang. I went to the door, and it was Griff. He was her boss in Africa.

Currie: What was he doing in Africa?

Eads: He was head of the psychological warfare branch, and that's what he got the Medal of Freedom for. He was one of the first to get a Medal of Freedom. It's the highest civilian honor that this country gives. He got that. I've got a picture of him accepting it from an officer.

So he took me home. It was love at first sight. [Laughter.] We went together for several years. He had been married to a very nice girl. She was living in California then. They had been sort of separated mostly, for quite a while. She didn't want a divorce. They finally got a divorce.

Currie: What year did you marry Griff?

Eads: I think it was about 1948 or '49.

Currie: You went together for a number of years.

Eads: Oh, yes.

Currie: Then Griff went on to work for CBS?

Eads: When he first came back, I've forgotten. He had just gotten back from Africa. This was during the war; it was still on. Then he worked for the Chicago Sun in the Washington bureau.

Currie: That was after the war? The war ended in 1945.

Eads: It was before the war ended. Then he went to work for CBS Radio.

 

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Currie: The two of you were covering Washington at the same time.

Eads: Different things. He mostly covered the Senate, at least in later times, and he had several programs of his own. He was a commentator.

Currie: Your beats were considerably different?

Eads: I would say so, yes.

Currie: Did you ever compete for the same story?

Eads: No. He covered the Hill, Congress, things like that. At that time I was just covering the waterfront. I made my own assignments at that time, when I was doing the column. I thought about where I wanted to go every day, and to whom I was going to talk. For quite a while, they wanted me to think of picture possibilities, which was a little rough. I mean, not only to think of the story, but the pictures. I complained about that, sort of, but they finally decided against it anyway.

Currie: How many times a week did you have to write a column?

Eads: It was about every day, except Saturday and Sunday. It was a daily column.

Currie: You could write anything you wanted, but it was generally about Washington?

Eads: Yes, or it would be of some dignitary who came to Washington. I could write it when I wanted to. When I first went to Washington, there were only about six of us writing long special features. We were special writers, which I thought was kind of good. One other woman, Sigrid Arne. She covered the State Department, mostly, for quite a while. One story I wrote was about displaced persons in Europe. That was the type of thing. Then later I did a series on women in the various branches of the armed services. I went to Pensacola, to the WAVES.

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

Currie: Did Beth Campbell work at the AP?

Eads: Yes.

Currie: She must have come while you were there.

Eads: She did. She was in Mrs. Roosevelt's press conferences.

Currie: I think Beth Campbell had known Sigrid Arne on another paper where she worked.

Eads: They knew each other on the AP. They both worked with AP.

Currie: I think they knew each other earlier, too.

Eads: Beth was quite a bit younger and newer. She came after we'd been there.

Currie: So you were what they called a special writer.

Eads: Just that time after the war, for a while. Then they had me working in the features department, which is separate, right there with the AP. Spot news stories. I was doing special features, and a lot of those clippings show that's what they were.

 

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Currie: When you worked at the AP, you were what they called a special writer.

Eads: That particular time. When I worked for AP in New York, I was just regular news and interviews.

Currie: But in Washington, they called you a special writer.

Eads: When I first came, they had six of us. We sat in a special section. We all were working very hard and doing these stories. They were mainly for Sunday newspapers, because they were quite long stories. We had pretty good play in the newspapers. The men were all special writers. One was a science writer. I think Sigrid was doing mostly State Department. That didn't last forever. We all were very busy. We were doing practically the same thing. The features would go out any time. It's hard for me to explain this to you, because it was difficult for me to understand it then. It's not important, anyway.

Currie: But it was interesting to me that they had different kinds of writers. I was just trying to determine the different writers and what those writers covered, because it's good to know how it was organized.

Eads: You have to know that the AP had different reporters for each state. In that Washington bureau, there were these reporters that covered only the newspapers in Alabama or Wisconsin, and they did spot news, regular news that had some bearing on that state or somebody from the state. They'd write a story and it went over a wire service to these different states. They had wire editors in each paper, too. That was a different group. Then they had the Latin American desk, the Canadian desk, and they had the European desk, but that was mostly under the foreign desk. Then they had the feature department and the sports department. I don't remember hearing much about sports news from Washington. In New York they had a sports department. And they had the White House staff and a very good photographic department.

Currie: You worked in the feature department?

Eads: Yes.

Currie: Maybe that's a good place to stop.

 

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