THE recent obituary for Julia Marshall Manchester gave a proper send-off to a woman of character, many interests and artistic attainment. Its subject was Judy Manchester, who was also, for 50 years and two months, wife unto the author William Manchester.
They met as fellow staff members of The Evening Sun -- not one night at some woozy newspaper party, but every morning at 8. Sitting down at old wooden typewriter desks that faced and abutted, Judy and Bill were looking right at each other. When she was taking dictation from our City Hall reporter, when he was prying the details of a train wreck out of the B & O Railroad, either could shoot the other that will-you-pleeeze-pipe-down look.
Less than three years after the obits for The Evening Sun itself, people have started to hallow it -- a ladder to career glory, a bower of romance. Just because one day the city editor's wife caught the city editor and a young woman reporter locked in noncombat, and just because on another day Jim McManus (now McKay) proposed to Margaret Dempsey (now McManus), each of them a newsroom stalwart, that doesn't spell, in the old word, mush.
Work went on (five editions daily, with full front- and back-page makeover). We looked through one another, not just up and down. What Bill saw across from him was a bright, good-looking Baltimorean who was what she was, not just the daughter of some big-name Hopkins medico. For her part, Judy knew Bill had been shot up as a Marine sergeant on Okinawa, but was unaware of his Navy Cross (as were we all). Bill kept going to meet H. L. Mencken in connection with the book Bill was writing, and that didn't particularly impress Judy either.
In Baltimore then and Connecticut afterward, each of them had toughness and endurance and a positive attitude toward anything the other undertook next. A murrain on death notices. To the remnant of the newsroom cadre, it'll go on being the two of them, the Manchesters, Bill and Judy.
James H. Bready was an editorial writer for The Evening Sun.
Pub Date: 6/12/98