Adele Rogers St. Johns

80 and Sharp, She’s mad at All Those ‘Silly’ Women Libbers
An excerpt from an interview that was published in the Sunday Magazine, October 21, 1973

By Joan Wixen, Sunday Magazine Special Writer

How do you write about someone you’ve known for years, and pretend you’re seeing her for the first time?

Someone who has been one of the inspirations of your life?

Someone whom you’ve loved and laughed with, who has told you off when no one else would.

Someone who just yesterday called you stubborn and impossible, who hung up the phone on you when she thought you were doing the wrong thing? Who later called you back worrying that she may have hurt feelings?

How do I write now about Adela Rogers St. Johns, one of the most famous women journalists living in the world today?

I sit now and I look at her in the patio of her Malibu home. In front of us is the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean, and as we talk we can hear the waves splashing back and forth in the background.

There is serenity here, a feeling of peace, man with nature, as we sit surrounded by the flowers, staring out at the jagged coast line. In back of us are mountains, with only an occasional house nuzzled here or there to let you know that there are other people living in the world, too.

She’s almost 80, an age when most people might be content just to soak it all up, to let life go by, basking in memories of another time.

But she’s more like an old sea captain who will never give up his ship.

Her skin is very tan now, and her face is etched with many lines. Lines that show she has lived and experienced life to its fullest.

Her voice is rather gravelly, the kind of voice no one ever forgets. And when she speaks, it is with so much expression and vitality you forget her age.

But it’s her eyes, the way they sparkle, the way they radiate life, that make her so different from everyone else.

I think back over 20 years to when I was a student working toward a graduate degree in journalism at UCLA, and she was one of my instructors. I don’t quite know what I expected that first time I saw her, but I certainly didn't expect what I saw.

Most professors I had known were highly intellectual men, people with many degrees after their names. When they lectured it was usually done in a structured way. Either they stood att he front of the class or they sat behind a desk. And when they spoke, it was with such an erudite vocabulary that I was forever running to the dictionary, trying to decipher what they were talking about.

I remember walking in that morning and right smack in the middle of the room, perched high on top of one of the desks, sat Adela, blasting away at the class.

She was such a funny little woman as she sat there, her feet dangling, her hands gesturing in all directions, everyone gathered so closely around her, listening so attentively to everything she was saying.

To read the entire interview, please contact the Detroit Free Press.

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