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Loving Eleanor
Lorena Hickok (a.k.a. Hick) was a self-made woman. She became the first woman reporter for the Associated Press (AP) in New York shortly after women earned the right to vote. In 1932 Hick began a friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt when she reported on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s campaign for president. After the election, Hick accompanied Eleanor on many trips and was a frequent guest in the White House. Media savvy, Hick encouraged her to be the first presidential First Lady to hold regular press conferences for an audience of women reporters and to write a newspaper column expressing her own views.

Hick soon found herself breaking the AP’s cardinal rule to stay out of the story. She got too close to the Roosevelts to remain objective. She left her AP job to work as an investigative reporter for FERA, the Federal Emergency Relief Act, at the height of the Great Depression. The deplorable conditions Hick saw across America affected her greatly. Again, unable to stay out of the story she enlisted the aid of Eleanor to try to bring assistance.

At times, author Susan Albert Wittig’s novel, Loving Eleanor, reads more like a recitation of facts but these two women lived in a rapidly changing world. Through the years, they kept in touch via letters. It is through these letters that a picture emerges that suggests they were more than friends. The extent of their relationship is still of some dispute. Whether it was an intimate relationship or an extremely loyal friendship almost seems too private to pry into.

The reporter and the reluctant First Lady’s friendship lasted for the rest of their lives. I most enjoyed reading about their many accomplishments, their enduring companionship, their compassion and tolerance. A woman of privilege who became a social activist and a small-town woman of humble origins who paved her own way.

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