Wednesday, August 13, 2014

That’s Ms. Soskin to You

I’ve had another article published by Girls That Roam, the online women’s travel magazine. This one is not about Orlando; it’s on Richmond, California’s Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

That’s a mouthful of a name, and perhaps in sympathy, my article ran a little long, too. It could have been tighter, I see now, but I do feel that the parts came together at the end, so I’m fairly happy with it.

I did want to make one note, though, just to show that I was raised right.

The Girls That Roam house style is to use a person’s whole name on first reference, and then their first name for subsequent references. I respect house style guides, having been responsible for compiling and enforcing several different ones in my time. This particular rule didn’t bother me at all until now, as all of the articles I have written so far for GTR have been about pretty laid-back (and relatively young) people who would think it was weird if I called them anything but their given names.

This Rosie the Riveter article was a little different, though. A person who gets mentioned a lot is park ranger Betty Reid Soskin, who, at 92, is just about old enough to be my grandmother. She is also African-American, which makes me even more inclined to err on the side of awkward earnestness. (I am thinking of a book I once read by two African-American women whose parents, born into slavery, called each other Mr. and Mrs. Delany until the end of their days—affording each other a respect that at the time they rarely got outside their home.)

What I am saying is that I would never dream of calling this woman “Betty” to her face, but the way the article appears, it looks like that’s what I’m doing behind her back. It’s just a house rule that I can’t change, and I hope I am forgiven--or at least unnoticed--by Ms. Soskin.

(She did mention, in a talk I saw her give recently, that she has mostly outlived her rage. So I’ve got that going for me.)

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