men at hundreds of battered typewriters arranged in greatnU’s—a U for each department — and dozens of teletypenmachines ringing and clattering day and night, erupting withnnews from all over the world. The editor sat at the outside ofnthe U, the assistant editor faced him across the desk in whatnwas called “the slot,” and the rewritemen and reportersnmanned typewriters along the long arms of the U. Thenfloors were littered with paper, cigarette butts, and the desksnwith graying, cooling stained containers of coff^ee, emptynCoke bottles, paper, pipes, debris. The shirt-sleeved mennwere intent on their machines as I walked down the longnline of typewriters past the foreign desk where a tall skinnynfellow with glasses looked up and almost nodded beforenturning back to the copy at hand. Harrison Salisbury wouldnvery soon take over the job of foreign editor.nAround the corner was the radio department wherenincoming news was rewritten on a news wire that reachedn1,400 radio stations. Radio in those pre-TV days was thensource of all instant news, which had to be repackaged bynthe radio department into convenient five- and fifteenminutensegments. Sentences were shortened for easierndelivery. Successful radio copy had a distinct beat to it; younhad to hear as well as see it. Sibilants were taboo (“Sixteennsuicides sent Stanford staggering” was not a good radionsentence). In 1943 United Press was the nation’s largestnradio news service.nPhil Newsom, all business today in contrast to his lazy,neasy conversational self at our interview, turned me over tonthe head of the radio copy staff, a messy, brown-curly-hairedngirl of 18 with streaks of ink on her face. Bobby, who neverncould learn not to wipe her fingers on her face afternchanging a typewriter ribbon, told me to get the orders fornmidmorning coffee and danish and then to run out to thenGreek’s (the corner deli) with it. (Bobby is now executivendirector of Cosmopolitan.)nIwas in the door, but at a very low level indeed. To be ancopy boy was bad. Most of them at UP at this time werenoverage underachievers, content to stay put in a no-futurensituation. To be a copy girl with aspirations was — to somenold news hands — too presumptuous for words. We werennothing but collitchgirls, strung thus together as a term ofnobloquy. “Collitchgirl,” sighed LeRoy Pope, who was ridingnthe slot that day when I went over to take his order.n”Another collitchgirl.”nWeeks later when the manpower pinch had become sonbad that I had been moved to the sports desk (over thenall-but-dead body of the sports editor), LeRoy, again in thenslot on a hot Sunday afternoon, would have his deepestnsuspicions of the total inadequacy of collitchgirls confirmed.nAfter he had responded to a dozen angry bells — complaintsnfrom local bureaus that something was wrong in a baseballnscore — and corrected my error, he stood up in the slot,nbrought his ruler down with a resounding slap that broughtnevery head sharply around, and put me straight on hownthings work in the news world. “Priscilla Buckley,” henroared, “you can call Franklin Delano Roosevelt a sonavabitch,nbut you can’t make a mistake in a baseball score.” Henwas absolutely right.nIt was made clear to me when I was promoted to thensports desk ($25 a week) that I was never to mention then12/CHRONICLESnnnpromotion to anyone. What would editors around thencountry think if they knew that UP was so hard up it had hadnto put a woman on the sports beat? My copy — even thennightly feature stories — was unsigned, or signed by thensports editor, and if a radio station or a UP bureau called fornclarification of any point, I was instructed to call a copy boynand have him take the telephone while I dug up theninformation.nThree or four years later my good friend Ed Korry, Parisnbureau manager for UP, lured me from another job with thenpromise of a spot in the Paris bureau as soon as one openednup. Inasmuch as UP wages were then and continued fornyears to be a joke, rapid turnover in staff was predictable. Ingot the job a couple of months later and soon noticed thatnmy byline, Priscilla Buckley, appeared on the wire as P.L.nBuckley. It turned out that UP’s then-Europeannmanager—a Mr. Bradford, whose headquarters in Bonnnwas at a safe remove from Paris — had a “no woman foreignncorrespondent” policy that Ed had simply ignored. I appearednon the table of organization as P.L. Buckley and so Inremained for nearly a year. The first time wicked Mr.nBradford walked into the UP newsroom in Paris and found anwoman in the slot, was, well, interesting.nDeliverance from that initial assignment on the sportsndesk in New York came six long months later when a tall,ngangly, pockmarked young man with flat feet walked innlooking for a job as a sports writer. I was reassigned to thenradio news staff, to general hallelujahs, particularly from thensports editor, and even given a raise ($27.50 a week). By thisntime there were three collitchgirls on the radio news desknand in short order they became top hands on the each of thenthree main shifts. We didn’t panic under pressure, we werennot lazy as many of the older male staffers were, and wenlearned to write fast in short, simple, easy-to-read sentences.nThe bigger, the faster-breaking the story, the more we likednit: the fall of Rome, D-Day, Mussolini’s death, VE-Daynwere big. But the biggest day of all was VJ-Day, whichnmarked the end of World War II, and which came on mynshift. At 7:00 P.M. on August 14, 1945 (12:00 midnight,nLondon), a tired but jubilant Winston Churchill and aniTiuch relieved Harry S. Truman announced to their respectivennations that the war was over. I got to write thenfifteen-minute broadcast that heralded that joyous news tonmuch of the nation. Every rule was suspended on that wildnjubilant night in the steamy UP newsroom in New York.nGreat pails of beer from the local saloons were carried intonthe office and happily consumed. And no one objected.nHell, the editors were drinking right along with the hands.nThis was VJ-Day, and the boys were coming home.nYears later, Hugh Baillie, who was United Press presidentnin those days, noted in his autobiography that in thenmid-40’s UP had discovered that women had a distinct flairnfor radio news writing. It took a wodd war for UP to findnthat out. At war’s end there was no question that whennJohnny came marching home again, he would be rehired,nbut not to replace Bobby, or Lee or Randy or Priscilla, ornhosts of other women sprinkled in newsrooms and editorialnoffices around the nation. We lucky graduates of the earlyn40’s had proved that we could do the job if only they wouldnlet us in the door.nn