Column: A friendship forged in the Tribune’s society pages

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2001

But, of course, there was a tornado warning.

Thursday, May 10, 2001

But, of course, there was a tornado warning. When a dear friend of 50 years, Eleanor Wong Telemaque, is my welcome guest for a week or 10 days, how can I do less than provide her with a bit of excitement?

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Eleanor and I met for the first time in about 1951 in the editorial office of the old Tribune building on College and Broadway. I was still young and she was much younger.

By that time The Tribune was publishing a Sunday edition. I want to thank my friend, Roger Lonning, for that information. Neither Eleanor nor I could remember for sure. When we searched in the usual places for the answer we were told that it might take two weeks or longer to find it.

Roger was able to give me the answer within the hour. Goes to show how intelligence follows the right ancestry.

The reason why we were curious about the matter was that there was always a certain amount of friction between the two women who did what was then still called the society pages. With the Sunday edition one woman was held responsible for the weekday pages and one for the Sunday section.

Neither of us had experience working in a newsroom. I was still in the back shop of The Tribune. Eleanor was fresh out of the University. One of the women whose work we had been doing had resigned, the other, tired of what she regarded as a hick town was off to find employment in New York.

We weren’t starting off personally on the best terms either. One of those young women who feel divinely appointed to arrange the attitudes of other people had interviewed each of us on how hard we must try to like each other. The result of her admonitions being that we each determined that the only course should be a kindly but firm indifference.

The first thing we discovered, though, was that the two women before us had made themselves a great deal of work by trying to withhold news items from each other, hoping each to have the outstanding tidbits in her own section. We used what we needed, shared what we had left, and instead of barely making our deadlines, finished early in morning.

Then we had nothing to do but to repair to the greasy spoon behind The Tribune, eat hamburgers and discuss the novels we both hoped to write. Weight was no problem in those halcyon days. We could eat anything we wanted without putting on an ounce. Indeed The Tribune photographer, observing Elly starting on her third hamburger, inquired rather nastily if her father (owner and operator of the Canton Restaurant since 1928) wasn’t cooking to suit her anymore.

Newspaper wise we were not infallible. I had a tendency to say in the headlines that Mr. and Mrs. Newlywed were making their home at whatever the address using the bride’s maiden name instead of the married name.

English was Eleanor’s second language and American idioms were not always her cup of tea. She once encountered an item about a conservative group of church women having had a potluck supper. Completely puzzled she wrote that the members had eaten supper and then played at potluck. The suggestion that gambling had taken place within their church hall didn’t go over well.

The Tribune had a great many parties in those days. We both liked parties. When we weren’t going to parties we sat on my sofa, ate popcorn and listened to my collection of early American records.

We talked endlessly. Disagreed on books, disagreed on religion and agreed on politics.

When Eleanor visits me, which she does at least every other year, I see far less of her than I could wish. In a way she belongs to the community and has many other friends to see. This year she spent half a day signing copies of her novel at the library. She. also, bought one of Nam Rhodes beautiful paintings to present to the The Albert Lea Art Center.

All things considered it was a busy 10 days even without the tornado warning.

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.