Keta Steebs The Writer


One part of the Door County Advocate that never fails to bring a smile are the words penned by Keta Steebs.  From time to time she gets space here at Caffeinated Politics, as is the case with her latest column on her love of writing.  A portion of her column follows.

The only female who I ever heard of still writing for publication in her late 80s was Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Ladies Book — the Vogue of the 19th century — and author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” I read that she died at her typewriter, after climbing 20 stairs to work, a fate that arthritic legs and fingers will stop me from emulating. I will probably “pass over” with a No. 2 pencil in my hand and a legal pad on my lap.

At times I wonder where my path would have led if I had done what my parents would not let me do — enlist in the Army and do something really brave like sneaking behind enemy lines and putting arsenic in Hitler’s wiener schnitzel — but no such luck. Instead of becoming another Mata Hari, I became a grinder in a defense plant. Instead of marrying a hard-working drill-press operator getting overtime pay and good health insurance, I spent 32 years happily married to a former Army sergeant turned butcher.

When people ask me how and why I got into the “writing game,” I tell them it’s a lot better than grinding hamburger and stocking shelves. The real reason, of course, is my love of words. During my factory years, I wrote themes for my college student friends. When the war ended and defense jobs evaporated, I turned to Webster and got a job copy writing for a radio station.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was beguiling Chan Harris, Advocate owner, with my stories of small-town life.

“What do we have here,” he had written after sending me a check for a story I had written on knitting, “another Erma Bombeck?”

I can still remember the joy I experienced reading those words and the fun I had cashing that check. Ten dollars went a long way in those days.

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