I was interested to see that, in a curious way, I crossed paths with her. She paused in my home town, Charles City, Iowa, just before Thanksgiving 1933. The town’s big tractor plant was all but closed, throwing hundreds out of work. I remember the smell of a soup kitchen operating in the halls of my grade school. Although wary of bedbugs, Hickok stayed at the downtown Hildreth Hotel (which burned down the next year) and filed her reports. The first paychecks from the emergency jobs programs were just arriving, and she produced a quote from a Charles City woman that has turned up in history books ever since: “The first thing I did was go out and buy a dozen oranges. I hadn’t tasted any for so long I had forgotten what they were like.” Golay’s section on my home town sounds perfectly accurate—but what do I know? I was five years old.

 

James Boylan is CJR’s founding editor.