Merry Maisel

  • Years at WGBH: 1962-63

On graduating from Radcliffe, where I had spent almost all my time at WHRB, I had an apartment in Boston and a parental subsidy that enabled me to spend the summer of 1962 and almost all of 1963 volunteering/working-for-pay at WGBH.

I was paid for science scripts for third-graders, for typing on a typewriter with donkey-kick recoil —mostly Julia Child’s prompter scripts, for running said scripts through the prompter as the show was taped (that 2-inch Ampex audiotape), and for a six-week stint as Henry Morgenthau’s secretary.

He was forced to give up the services of a tall, beautiful, and very competent woman with a British accent in favor of me—I was, instead, nasty, brutish, and short—while the beautiful one had a baby. I, in turn, was forced to interpret Henry’s idea of “take a letter:” which was more or less “Dear Whosis, Yours of the 13th. inst. received and contents noted. I do not believe we can attempt to produce such a show at this time, et cetera, et cetera, Sincerely.” Held for further inquiry were the name and address of the recipient and the topic to be dealt with. But you get the gist.

The high point of my career was arriving one day to have Henry thrust tickets into my hand. “Turn around and drive to the airport, you have a nine o’clock flight to New York, don’t miss it, and take this audiotape to the studio on the card, at 112th Street, and get it fixed and then go back to the airport and come home.” I said I’d arrived without any cash for lunch or cabfare, and he thrust $20 into my hand. What an adventure! I hadn’t flown in a plane since I was five years old, and I managed to do it all (except lunch) for $20 and be back at the studio by seven PM.

During the year of 1963 got to know and work with Bea Braude, Fred Barzyk, Russ Fortier, Will Morton, Virginia Kassel, and many others, including my classmate, the musical David Sloss, and others whose names escape me at the moment. All quite wonderful.

I eventually became a science writer and spent half a century at it before retiring. I am in San Diego now, quite unreasonably happy despite the state of the world, and I bid you all a fond hello!

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