I thought of the forty or so idiosyncratic inhabitants of the eighteenth floor as "my writers" and the six or so cartoonists billeted there as "my artists." I watered their plants, walked their dogs, boarded their cats, sat their children – and sometimes their houses -- when they went away. Of course, I also took their messages. Not a part of the required skill set, but over the years I received messages, too, along with impressions, confidences, and an education in a variety of subjects. I was there, among the men and women who wrote and edited the magazine, for longer than many of them were..
Yet with the exception of one six-month stint in the art department, I did not rise from my initial post. The William Shawn years at The New Yorker, 1952-1987, completely encompass my 21 years’ employment there, from 1957 to 1978. I entered the workforce before the feminist era, and as I ponder the way women in general failed to thrive in that world, how often they were used and overlooked, I recognize that I was part of a larger historical narrative. As for my personal struggles, during much of the time in question, I was undergoing a prolonged identity crisis and the real struggle, for me, was the one that arose from my proximity to all the creative people I served. Was I or was I not “one of them”? And since I didn’t know, it is scarcely surprising that The New Yorker didn’t know, either, what in the world to do with me.