CAROLYN FOISY AND STYLE
Judith Martin's memory of 'For and About Women,' published in last week in The Washington Post Magazine, reminds me of my stint, in the early-to-mid-1970s, as a staff reporter and fashion columnist (the first of my gender) on 'Women,' the so-called society page at the Worcester Telegram and its sister weekend paper, the Sunday Telegram in Worcester, Massachusetts. Like Martin, I was young, but my background was somewhat different. I had been a political reporter. Thanks to The Post's 'Style' section, and seeing a kind of interpretative writing I wanted to adopt (difficult under the strictures imposed on 'straight' reporting at the time), I was able to build up the nerve to jump from 'hard' news to 'soft.'
My colleagues scoffed at my transfer, thinking that I was simply joining the sewing circle of old biddies who then made up the section's staff. Sure enough, they were right. Except for one -- the section's editor, the late, great Carolyn Foisy. She was neither old, nor a biddy. In fact, she had -- unbeknownst to me -- recruited me to join the page's ranks. Carolyn was also an avid reader of 'Style,' and my marching orders were 'Copy! Copy! Copy!.' That we did, even to redesigning our pages to mirror 'Style's' layout.
Yes, it was sexist time. Interestingly, my gender also served me well. Local hostesses were charmed to be interviewed by the man who was taking them 'seriously.' But they also loved being tweaked by our cheeky writing style. Style' validated our efforts. Thank you 'Style'! You showed us and told us how to do it.