the schmooze

*The Yiddish word for vocation is "fakh"
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Margalit Fox (New York Times, "Loose Ends," 6/13/12) asks, "Carbon Paper? What's That?"

Having spent 35 years in "der klastsimer" (the classroom) preparing young women for secretarial jobs, I'm quite familiar with carbon paper. Yes, I also know kids in elementary and high school in the '60 got handouts from the Ditto machine/spirit duplicator.

If I were to prepare an examination for "mature" or "seasoned" secretaries, I would ask them the following questions:

Q. 1
Define these terms:
Gregg vs. Pitman
Katharine Gibbs School
Women Office Workers (WOW) w.p.m.
asdfjkl;--carriage return
The 3 R's (No, it's not reading, writing and arithmetic!)
steno pool
mimeograph machine
"sharing a pad"
"circular file"

Q. 2
What do these women have in common?

Eve Arden
Joan Blondell
Miss Genevieve Blue
Myrna Turner (Turna)
Ann Sothern
Effie Perine
Rose Mary Woods
Miss Moneypenny
Della Street

Q. 3
In what magazine did this quote appear?
"Behind almost every successful c.e.o. lurks a powerful lady who guards his door, schedules his day, and who probably has more influence over most of the decisions he makes than even he is willing to admit."

a) Fortune
b) Time
c) Pakn Treger
d) Heeb- The Guilt Issue, Summer 2004
e) "Ver vaist?" (Who knows?)

Q. 4
A memorandum from the executive assistant to the vice-president for academic affairs at California State University, Northridge, says:

"...Your Department secretary should follow the following steps:

a)...Make sure the part-time faculty member is attached to the Fall 1989 Schedule of Classes with the correct social security number..."

a) True
b) False

Q. 5
Who said, "Hire a male secretary. He will increase your prestige enormously"?

a) Michael Korda
b) Jane Fonda
c) "Vos art es mich?" (What does it matter to me?)

Q. 6
Who directed the movie, "Working Girl," starring Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, and Harrison Ford?

Q. 7
Name the three female stars of the movie,
"NIne to Five."

Q. 8 Extra credit
Name the two Hollywood stars in the 1940 drama, "Hired Wife," a comedy about a secretary who marries her boss so that he can put his company in her name--but she decides to take over.

Q. 9
In the 1952 comedy, "Meet Millie," Ross Ford played the boss's son. Who starred as a typical Manhattan secretary?

Q. 10
Speaking to the American Psychological Association, who said, "The average secretary in the United States is better educated than the average boss"?

a) Karen Nussbaum, then exec. director of 9 to 5, the National Assoc. of Working Women
b) Gloria Steinem
c) Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Q. 11
Mary Bridget Carroll, a former secretary and author of a book titled, "Underpaid and Overworked," told readers who were stuck in secretarial jobs that they hate to quit and get into something else. She also told them [1984],

a) "Me dreyt zikh, un me freyt zikh."
(Keep on trying and you'll be happy.)
b) Avoid the hippie look, the Fredericks of Hollywood look, the high school look, and the punk-rock look.
c) "Es iz shoyn tsayt." (It's about time.)

Q. 12 Extra credit
Jack Benny had a male secretary. He was nearly Jack's age, was a dapper fellow, very thin, well dressed, and, like Jack, didn't look his age. Many people thought that he should run for mayor ("birger-mayster") of Beverly Hills because he had a speaking acquaintance with half the people he'd pass on Wilshire Boulevard. Who was he?


1. Gregg and Pitman were two shorthand systems.
Katharine Gibbs was founded in 1911 as an institution for the career education of young women. I remember the white glove requirement and the teachers whose mission was to turn all the girls into the creme de la creme of the executive universe: a Gibbs girl.
w.p.m. means "words per minute"
Ex. Mary took steno at 120 wpm. and typed at 60 wpm. with 98% accuracy.
Operators of manual typewriter will recall the clatter when the typist shoved the carriage back to the left side. And who can forget the bell that warned you that you were nearing the end of a line.
The 3 R's meant: "The Royal [typewriter]
Road to Romance" FYI: In the early 1920s, the Royal Typewriter Co. dropped 11,000 parachuted typewriters out of a plane over Hartford, CT. This was intended to increase sales.
"Sharing a pad" meant borrowing someone else's steno pad.
A "circular file" is a garbage can, wastepaper basket or trash can.

2. Eve Arden was Jimmy Stewart's secretary in "Anatomy of a Murder"
Joan Blondell starred in the Warner Bros. film, "Office Wife" in 1930.
Miss Genevieve Blue was Andy's secretary from Amos 'n' Andy.
Gertie was Perry Mason's office receptionist.
Max was Milton Berle's secretary.
Myrna Turner was Oscar's secretary in the series, "The Odd Couple."
Ann Sothern was secretary, Susie McNamara in "Private Secretary."
Effie Perine was Sam Spade's secretary in old time radio.
Rose Mary Woods was Richard Nixon's secretary.
Miss Moneypenny was Secretary to M.
Della Street was Perry Mason's devoted secretary.

Q. 3. a)

Q. 4. a). It's true.

Q. 5. a)

Q. 6. Mike Nichols

Q. 7. Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton

Q. 8. Rosiland Russell and Brian Aheme

Q. 9. Elena Verdugo

Q. 10. b)

Q. 11. b)

Q. 12. Bert Scott

Marjorie's favorite line: "A secretary's pad is to write in, not spend the night in."


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N O P Q R S T U V W   Y Z
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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