Another great article from NextAvenue.org that’s a wonderful read! Loved hearing about how Etta Freed Lerman rolled with the times, embracing computers, having a ball & having a darn good time as a writer who spanned amazing times! Most of all, I enjoyed her love of the mechanics of typing:
From the Roosevelt to Eisenhower administrations (1930s-1950s), our home was headquarters for Philadelphia’s Democratic 20th Ward. My father, an attorney, party leader and later a magistrate, was the ward leader. Like statesman and printer Benjamin Franklin, he designed his own political mailings.
Our dining room was a hub of activity; everyone in the family helped out, along with typists hired by my father. As a child, I worshipped them, sitting at their feet, marveling at their fingers flying over the keys and delighting in the clickety-clack of the old standard workhorse. Typing on a keyboard today, it’s hard to imagine what a difficult chore it was back then. It was through these working women that I came to appreciate the skill of typing.
When my father started his own business, Mom became his secretary, typing out his letters, bills & responses to vendors’ invoices. I loved to hear the sound of her striking the keys, the DING! of the carriage return. To this day, I love using a manual typewriter.
Got a bit teary, reading, “Beginning with my first job in 1943, when I was 16, I have always enjoyed the independence that work offers.” Brings to mind Mom’s story about Ellen Lear, her best friend in the universe. She & Ellen became great buddies when both worked at Strawbridge & Clothier’s, an upmarket department store in Philadelphia. Both of the worked in the Book Department, which back in those days was remarkably comprehensive & hosted regular visits by the top writers. Mom had heard about a business course offered at a local college. She would have loved to have taken the course, but the Depression that dashed her dreams of getting a teaching degree put it beyond her reach. But she knew Ellen’s parents always encouraged their only child to reach for the stars & noted that it seemed a good fit for her friend’s skills & interests.
Mrs. Lear always thanked Mom for that advice. Ellen took the course, got a job with a top-notch Philadelphia firm representing the interests of a major Texas family whose ranch was only slightly smaller than the King’s & had business holdings around the world. The wonderful news is that Ellen would rise to be a Director. The sad news is that it necessitated her move to Texas, which just about broke their close-as-sisters hearts.
So many wonderful memories of Mom & of a special friendship that touches my heart as much today as when the two ladies were jabbering on the phone!
How does Etta’s story touch YOU?