There was a shootout so I threw off my apron, grabbed my camera and went to find the story

September 20, 2017
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There was a shootout so I threw off my apron, grabbed my camera and went to find the story

There was a shootout so I threw off my apron, grabbed my camera and went to find the story

“I am 91. Carrying oxygen is miserable. Each cannister only gives me two hours of oxygen and the chord is too easy to trip over. It is what I get for smoking. I gave it up 60 years ago and still have COPD. My husband smoked and had a cigarette the day he died in 1989 and he had one full lung. I didn’t tell anyone I was smoking three packs a day. I had a new baby and I was going for the cigarettes before the baby so I decided I better give them up. I just got in the habit and became a chain smoker.

My father was a lawyer, my mother was French and they met in WWl. My father was in supplies and working with her brother and her brother took him home to meet his family. That is how he met my mother. He went back to the U.S., started a law practice, and went back to France to marry her. She was 17 and he was 34. They were married over 50 years. My father was 9 when his father died and he used to live next door to Teddy Roosevelt and went on walks with Teddy when he was head of the Army or something like that. Roosevelt was a good influence in his life. This was in Washington D.C. and they went to the park and played touch football in the park. My father was a dedicated Republican and I grew up in Republican politics. My mother started a radio program Memories of France and Arthur Godfrey was her first announcer.

I got married and moved to Connecticut. They called me and said they were working for Taft against Eisenhower for president and I volunteered. I had never driven a car so they came to pick me up and I went to work to help Taft. I spoke French because we went to France every summer before the war started and I got a job with the North African mission in Washington. I had a major disagreement with them and went to work for the Navy and rode the streetcar all of the way through town every day. I went to work for the Belgians until I got a job with food and agriculture at the U.N. and worked at the U.N. for two years until I got married.

I was a happy housewife but couldn’t stand being idle. A friend of mine who was a reporter for the Bridgeport Post was getting old like I am now and asked me to start covering the board of education meetings. She liked the way I wrote. Our representative put my name in for the Waterbury Republican who wanted a reporter. They gave me a handbook and the number to call in my stories. I got to cover the Hell’s Angels murder case. I was home scrubbing the kitchen floor but listening to the radio, I was always listening for stories. They said there was a shootout in Sandy Hook so I threw off my apron and grabbed my camera and went to find the story. The manager of the liquor store across the street took me where I could see and there were bodies in the courtyard of the hotel. I got the pictures of the bodies and that went on the first page. I loved every minute of reporting. It consumed me.

I had a kidney problem all of my life. I had 13 pregnancies and lost 8 babies. I was in the hospital for six weeks with my son, he was born at six months and only lived for 2 days.

I was vice president of the state Federation of Republican Women and went to the national convention. Ronald Reagan wanted the nomination and was going to be there. I had reporter’s instincts and when I heard commotion at the elevator I pushed my way on and got on the elevator with Reagan. I had on my press badge and told his press secretary I wanted to go to his press conference and Reagan said, ‘of course you can come.’ I changed and ended up on the elevator with him again. He escorted me into the room and there were about 500 press people. At the end, I went up to the front line. He grabbed me by the arm and said he wanted to talk to me to know what the women of Connecticut think. We went into a private room and I had a private interview with Ronald Reagan. Reagan never changed and always stayed the same with his policies.

My husband got sick and we moved to Florida and I had to quit my newspaper job and got more involved in politics. I have no interest in politics now because it is not the same party. I can’t understand Donald Trump. Politics should be about human beings, not money.

My mother used to have a saying, ‘He who asks nothing gains nothing,” and I have lived my life by that.”

3 comments on “There was a shootout so I threw off my apron, grabbed my camera and went to find the story”

  1. What an interesting life! I love her open, honest approach and I bet her memoirs would be a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jill Stanley says:

    Ms. Helene is one dynamic lady! We love our Villager!

  3. Lori says:

    Thank you Helene. What a great share. I hope you are well. Maybe I will see you next year in fair hope. At the grand Hotel

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