To the Editor:
April 26, now called Administrative Professionals Day, was previously called National Secretaries Day.
Years ago, before I retired, the nomenclature changed, but the duties remained the same – dictation, typing, filing, etc.
In high school, I decided I wanted to be a secretary upon graduation.
After taking stenography and typing, I became a secretary in the high school superintendent’s office during study periods.
Other gals also worked for him, but the superintendent appointed me his No. 1 secretary. It was a no-pay job, and we earned extracurricular points for performing clerical duties.
I shared the outer office with a football player who had broken his leg in football and could not navigate the stairs to the study hall.
When the superintendent announced that I was to be his No. 1 secretary, he said one of my duties would be to dust his desk each day. (Whoopee.) I was just 17.
I eagerly leaped to the task, knocking his Parker 51 pen off his desk! I can still see it stuck in the oak floor!
I picked it up and replaced it in its holder (although the point was now ruined); snickering was heard from the football player.
Next, the superintendent asked me to add up the figures he called out to me. The adding machine (pre-modern calculators) was an old relic that had a total button that you depressed while pulling the lever toward you to clear the machine. The lever came off and fell clattering to the floor; more chuckling from the football player.
Next, the superintendent dictated a letter that I took down in shorthand. Preparing to transcribe my notes, I twirled paper into the typewriter. When I hit the carriage return, (no automatic wraparounds back then) the typewriter plate sailed across the room.
More snickering. By now, my embarrassment was total.
Upon graduation, the football player presented me his photo, upon which he wrote “I’ll never forget you, the pen, the adding machine or the typewriter.”
I learned later he was responsible for the pranks, loosening the screws that held the adding machine lever and the typewriter plate on.
I confronted him at a high school reunion years later. Ironically, he did not recognize or remember me. But I never forgot him!
I’m happy to report, my secretarial career became a reality, despite the rocky beginning.
Happy Secretaries Day!
(Sorry, it will always be that to me.)