It was 1959 when I recieved the phone call. I don't remember the month but it must have been September or October because my son had been born on July 29 and on that day I had bundled him into a wicker bassinet and taken him to the office with me because the baby sitter didn't show up.
He was asleep on the floor by my desk when our secretary/receptionist/typesetter yelled "someone on the phone wants to speak to the editor". I distinctly remember not wanting to take the call. We were on deadline, I had a mountain of work to finish and knew it wouldn't be long before I'd have to feed the baby. But you never know - it might be a tip, something more exciting than a Rotary Club report to liven up the front page of our small town weekly newspaper, so I picked up the phone and heard a man's voice say................
"Is it true you Jews murder white babies and drink their blood?"
And all I could say was "who is this?". Naturally, he hung up and naturally I was shaken. (I was aware of anti-semitism having grown up a Southern Baptist. My own mother, when told on the phone that I had married a Jew, cried "your children will be condemned to hell".) But for the moment my reporter instinct took precedence over the insult and I concentrated on trying to recognize the voice.
I was almost sure it was a police officer who had been defeated in a city council race. We had endorsed his opponent and he was bitter. Yes, it was him, but I couldn't prove it and there was nothing I could do except stew and wait for the publisher, my husband, to show up and explain "blood libel" to me.
I was 23 years old then. Last week was my 75th birthday. And between then and now, more than 50 years have gone by without another reference to that filth and for that I'm grateful. But I can't help thinking I didn't burn my bra so that one day a woman of my daughter's generation would feel free to toss it so casually into the political fire.