Memoirist Recalls Sister’s Job as Eagle Reporter
Though she’s migrated to a small town in the Sierra Foothills, California, author Jean Humburg’s latest book, “Tarpaper Dreams,” is largely focused on the formative years she spent in Brooklyn. Humburg was raised by two immigrant parents in Bay Ridge during the Depression; her grandmother lived nearby.
Humburg’s older sister, Violet, worked as a reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle. In her book, Humburg recalls, “In the 1930s, women newspaper writers were called “sob sisters” […] Despite the Depression and the fact that she was a girl, Vi miraculously was hired by the prestigious Brooklyn Eagle, a paper in existence since 1841. After a stint as a columnist in the hinterlands of Long Island, my 21-year-old sheltered sister became a street reporter.” In addition to working for the Eagle as a reporter, Violet was a book editor and national affairs editor, writing many of the articles that won a Pulitzer for the Eagle in 1951.
Humburg writes that upon hearing her sister’s work-related stories, she wished she could one day have a similar job. In “Tarpaper Dreams” she recalls “the longest and most bitter newspaper strike ever to hit the New York area. Members of the Newspaper Guild were staff writers who were striking to gain the same prestige, salary and security as other professions […] when [Violet] asked if I would help the cause by stuffing envelopes during the Brooklyn Eagle strike, I was more than willing to do so.”
Humburg goes on to chronicle her adventures as she comes of age and falls in love during the Depression and World War II years. A heartwarming and humorous memoir, “Tarpaper Dreams” revives a slice of Brooklyn history through the eyes of an insightful young girl.