Friday, December 27, 2002

Three longtime staffers of Jewish newspaper retiring

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - After 36 years working at a wooden desk with a manual typewriter, three women will retire this month from a Jewish newspaper.

The Kentucky Jewish Post & Opinion will continue publishing, but its longtime Louisville staff of Martha Fields, Lucille Maupin and Velma Cohen decided to retire together.

"It's been a fun time, and we've all enjoyed it, but we're about ready to do other things," said Ms. Cohen, noting that the women range in age from 73 to 80.

The Post & Opinion is published in Indianapolis, where most of its pages are produced. Jennie Cohen, daughter of publisher and Louisville native Gabriel Cohen, said she will hire new staff. The family (not related to Velma Cohen) also publishes an Indianapolis paper.

Gabriel Cohen founded the paper in the 1930s in downtown Louisville but moved to Indianapolis after the 1937 flood. For many years, it was Louisville's only Jewish newspaper, though in recent years the Jewish Community Federation of Louisville has published its own paper, Community.

The Post & Opinion runs its Kentucky news on two pages, mainly obituaries, weddings and social announcements. Most of the other pages have national and international Jewish news and commentary.

The newspaper also publishes major issues on Jewish holidays such as Passover, Rosh Hashana and Hanukkah, as well as other dates, such as the anniversary of Israeli independence and a day marking Christian-Jewish harmony.

The three women joined the Post & Opinion around 1966, when its Louisville office had a staff of about 15. They were all mothers of young children who found the part-time work convenient.

"There were real advantages to this," said Ms. Maupin. "We were able to get our children to school and get home by the time the bus came. It was the kind of a job where we picked up spare money and could do other things, too."

In recent years, other staff members left, but "we stayed," Ms. Fields said.

"The three of us have seen each other through various illness and have been there for one another when needed," said Ms. Maupin, adding that they attended each others' family weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs.

The women are retiring with a lot of nostalgia but no regrets.

"Definitely, we'll miss it," Ms. Fields said in an interview with the staff shortly before their retirement, but "our grandchildren, daughters and sons will keep us busy."

Added Velma Cohen: "I don't think it will hit us till we get up and we don't have to hustle and bustle to go somewhere."

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Three longtime staffers of Jewish newspaper retiring