What was the speechwriting life back in the day?

Wanted: Stories from the old school. A 1960 Associated Press article on former President Eisenhower speechwriter Emmet Hughes described his life: “a 10-hour day in a quiet office overlooking the White House lawn. Often, special assignments kept him on the job around the clock. For relaxation, he played gin rummy with his pretty wife, Eileen.”


The passage put me in mind of another graph I recently wrote in a foreword of a forthcoming book on speechwriting. This is how I described speechwriting two decades ago:

“A big company with a public presence would have a speechwriting department, several middle-aged men whose activities ranged from reading, thinking, lunchtime drinking, hammering away at their old typewriters or their new word processors, and smoking pipes.”

If that’s hyperbole, then tell us, o wizened ones: What was it like to be a speechwriter back in the day? We’d like to collect your anecdotes in an article. Send ‘em to me at [email protected].

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