Daisy Tucker is the older woman in my life.
With hair fashionably white and a style that defied age, she is someone I’ve always enjoyed.
When I arrived on 12th Street, she worked for the publisher. She let Maynard Ashworth believe he was in charge but many things at the Ledger-Enquirer revolved around Miss Daisy.
She’s in her 90s now and her health is failing. When she passes away, with her will go the last remaining link to another era of local journalism.
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Her husband, Cliff Tucker, was editor of the Enquirer from 1937 until his death in 1961. Before him, his father held the same position.
Cliff Tucker was a reporter when Julian and Julia Harris owned the Enquirer-Sun. It was an age when the Ku Klux Klan marched on the newspaper, a scary night Miss Daisy described in Greg Lisby’s book, “Someone Had to be Hated.”
Klansmen arrived on horses, guns in hand. They dared Mr. Harris and Tucker to come outside. They planned to kill them, Miss Daisy told the author.
“Cliff said Mr. Harris said, ‘Come on.’ And he said that he and Mr. Harris went on out. Cliff said he and Mr. Harris walked among the flanks of the horses ... My husband said he recognized some of the men as being prominent people in Columbus and said he called to them. ‘Don’t think I don’t know who you are,’ because he recognized them; he recognized their voices and they weren’t hooded so you could recognize some of their eyes. He said he told them, ‘I recognize you. I know who you are.’”
No names were taken. Neither was there another march on the paper. The Enquirer-Sun received the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism. Two years later, the paper was sold.
Miss Daisy observed history. Her husband rushed from home to put out an extra edition when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He also wrote on the day peace was declared. His “Top O’ the Morn” column was a fixture for 24 years.
She became our connection to a generation that wore green eyeshades in a newsroom filled with cigarette smoke and void of women.
My generation knew her as creator of the newspaper library — the morgue, where old clippings and photographs went to die.
Not many papers this size had one but Miss Daisy started from scratch. It had peculiar foibles but for decades it provided us a reference point.
Her influence didn’t stop there. She was a lady and she set down rules against women at the paper wearing pants. She also was behind the propriety that labeled the men’s rooms as WCM — as in Water Closet Men. A few still survive.
Newspapers — make that this newspaper — filled her life and her mental scrapbooks. She knew Columbus when it was a town with two newspapers and two owners. These were stories she loved to tell.
I recently came across an article from the morning after Cliff Tucker’s death. They fit today as Miss Daisy struggles to read another day’s edition. This piece mentioned 30 — a typographical mark used at the end of a story.
“It is 30 — the typewriter is covered — Daisy is about to turn out the lights. Daisy Tucker is going home.”
Richard Hyatt is also found at www.richardhyattcolumbus.com.