RD & You
Whenever a group of Digesters get together, the memories and stories flow. Remember the afternoon Mr. Wallace came by and told everyone to go home early to enjoy the fine day? Or how about the huge tree limb that crashed down on Ken Gordon's parked (and, luckily, empty) limo in front of the Digest the very day he was retiring? Don't forget that ice storm when we got stuck in the building and had to sleep on the office sofas. Or what about all the love matches that happened as people from different divisions met each other on the sports teams
We'd love to collect your memories and photos here. Long or short, sharp or fuzzy, simply email them to
Please keep your Comments on topic (Digest-related) and courteous. Now, let the memories begin!
From Patricia Kinne Paolella
09 September 2010
As a graduate of HGHS class of 1942 I saw in the news notes the article about the Readers Digest. Thought you might find the following interesting:
About 1944 or so at Christmas time the Digest hired local ladies about six weeks before the holidays to come to the HQ and hand-sign the notices for people who were recipients of gift subscriptions so it felt as if they were getting a friendly greeting saying so and so has sent you a gift subscription. My mother and some neighbors went. I remember two of the ladies who my mother, Olive Kinne, rode with to the Digest over several fall and winter seasons to sign the cards—they were Bob Aylesworth's mother and Bobbie Brown's mother. They carpooled (gasoline was in short supply), worked the morning, had lunch there and worked a bit in the afternoon. They enjoyed it immensely and were "earning" a salary--as I remember it, occasionally one or two actually got a job working full time afterward.
I have lived in NJ for many years and did not come up to see the exhibit about the Readers Digest but Don Reynolds, a HGHS grad from a class near mine (1941)--sent me a note telling how great the exhibit was and I sent for some data and received a two-page summary with pictures of the originators of the magazine—I recognized several of the names listed of people who had sent in memories and saw Don's name and Alan Quinby as well. If you can include this in your website, some of my old time neighbors and friends might see my name and perhaps get in touch or at least know I am still alive and kicking,
The experts who thought the Digest would have a short life span couldn't have been more wrong, right? Best wishes to the historical society--you are doing a great job.
03 August 2010
In high school at Greeley , a close friend and fellow lineman on the football team was Jim Naismith (Mother was Grace Naismith, an editor, and whose grandfather invented basketball)..I frequently hiked up from Millwood to 7 Bridges to see the late Anita McRae, whose father Cuyler was a roving editor and whose glamorous mother was for many years the Digest receptionist. Those are my early associations.
As a marketing supervisor for J Walter Thompson, (advertising agency for the Digest Account in the early 60s) I regularly visited the Digest to work with business manager Al Cole and the retail circulation department. Basically the Digest was home - subscription fueled but the newstand brought new opportunity and I worked with Ben Dolphin, newstand s.ales director. Newstand sales is a rough business and Ben was recently a Syracuse University boxer and knew how to keep the Digest visible to the public on display.
At J Walter Thompson, we persuaded them to take the magazine nationally into supermarkets and sell it as a grocery product. That was my job.
The most heavily traveled section of the supermarket was the dairy department so we placed boxes of the Digest, suspended, in the dairy section with milk and cheese, in suspended display cases. (Click Read More above)
06 June 2010
Late in 1968, I had the great pleasure of being in charge of my first issue of Reader’s Digest. My days at the office were long but satisfying, and it was often late when I left for home, where a wife and two children awaited. Christmas approached, and I barely noticed. My wife did all the shopping, and tended to the other arrangements. Me? I was working on an issue that would soon be read by 50 million Americans. What fun! What a challenge!
Two nights before Christmas found me again late at the office, working happily away at my new table of contents. I was alone in the department, it being after seven o’clock, and totally absorbed in the task at hand. Christmas carols were playing on the carillon in the Headquarters tower. I didn’t hear them. (Click Read More above)
06 June 2010
. In 1976, Ronald Reagan put on a spirited campaign to seize the Republican nomination from the incumbent Gerald Ford. And apparently it occurred to him that it might be wise to meet with the editors of Reader’s Digest, to hear what we had to say. So on a beautiful Spring evening, Governor Reagan and his campaign manager came to the RD Guest House to dine with Wally and ten of his editors.
It was a memorable evening. Drinks were poured and Reagan immediately began to explain “how delighted I am to be here. I can’t tell you what a relief this is! Out there on the trail it is madness. Questions! Speeches! Going here ... going there. Never a chance to relax. And now ...” he raised his glass and swept it right and then left, in a symbolic toast to each of us ... “now here I am with you fellas, in this lovely old building, able to relax at last.” [The “fellas,” it should be noted, included three lovely lady editors!] (click Read More above)
From Maria Venere Galiuto
27 March 2010
Milan, March 27, 2010
This is my memory just as ex-member of the great family of the Reader's Digest. It was September 1991 when I found myself on board of a flight from Milan to New York, destination: the Reader's Digest and five weeks of training at CB (now SE) International Editorial. I remember how much I was excited but with a great anxiety. It wasn't my first time in the US, all the same I couldn't ignore that in a short while I would have crossed the gates of the headquarters. (click Read More above)
22 March 2010
In 1976, Ronald Reagan put on a spirited campaign to seize the Republican nomination from the incumbent Gerald Ford. And apparently it occurred to him that it might be wise to meet with the editors of Reader’s Digest, to hear what we had to say. So on a beautiful Spring evening, Governor Reagan and his campaign manager came to the RD Guest House to dine with Wally and ten of his editors. (click Read More above)
22 March 2010
Charlie Ferguson loved this story about the Wallaces in their heyday --
Seems Charlie had a friend who headed a charity. Charlie thought some advice from Lila would be useful in working out a new strategy. He therefore arranged a private luncheon at the Digest where his friend could talk about the services. Lila, at the end, leaned over and sweetly asked, "Would a million dollars help?"
15 March 2010
My first visit to Pleasantville occurred when I was on the way back to Australia from a condensed-books conference in Europe.
Arriving by limo at around seven in the evening, I am kindly put up at the guest house inside the main gates, which, so the security guy tells me, is empty for the night. An antique, handsome, rambling building, it echoes somewhat as I explore it alone. The dining room, with its immense table and portraits glooming at me from the walls, feels lonely. I open the door onto the park and sip a cool drink, watching the light fade from the trees and beautifully groomed garden beds. Then, behind me, the chandelier over the table begins to sway back and forth with a creaking sound, as though someone were pacing the wooden floor above. (click Read More above)
13 March 2010
My most unforgettable memory of Dewitt Wallace dates from my first visit to Pleasantville as editor of the South African Edition in 1972.
What a trip it was for those of us coming from the far flung corners of the Digest world, treated royally from the moment we stepped into a limo at JFK, our every wish granted by our gracious hosts and hostesses. I was given the choice of commuting from New York, city boy that I was, and planted myself in the Algonquin for an entire month. The great and genteel days of the Digest, indeed!
Felicity Mead and her staff meticulously planned our schedules, both work and play. On one of my daily notations: “Meeting with DeWitt Wallace.” (click Read More above)
08 March 2010
In the summer of 1967, Lila helped the Metropolitan Opera star Rise Stevens out of a jam. “Mr. Bing has put me in charge of our touring company,” the singer explained, referring to Rudolph Bing, the Met’s imperious managing director. “My dream is to take the company on a trip around America. Millions of people in the smaller towns never get a chance to experience live opera, and I thought this would be a way to make up for that. But I am far behind in raising funds -- more than a million dollars, in fact. So unless some angel should appear, some very generous angel” -- Stevens smiled apologetically -- “I am afraid the tour will never happen.” (click Read More above
15 February 2010
On a lovely summer day in 1975, Lila Wallace taught five of her male colleagues a simple lesson in proper behavior. She had invited us to a luncheon at the Guest House to meet a “special person.” The “special person” turned out to be the recently-elected Miss America. Miss America at Reader’s Digest? As it happened, our gorgeous guest was also a student at Macalester College, and in view of the generous Wallace legacy at Macalester she had been asked to come to Pleasantville to pay her respects. (click Read More above)
13 February 2010
The first time I met Wally was shortly after I was hired. I was called into his office and he asked me a couple of questions about my background. Then he asked me if I had a picture of my wife in my wallet. I did and produced it and that pleased him greatly. That was the end of our meeting.
The day after my wife's tragic death, he called me in the late afternoon and told me the situation was the worst thing that had ever happened in Digest history. He then told me that the Digest would pay for a housekeeper to take care of my two children until I remarried. That action was a raw nerve with Bill Cross and the treasurer's department until I did remarry.
13 February 2010
By May, 1955, I was five years out of the School of Journalism at the University of Minnesota and was trying to establish myself as a freelance magazine writer. I had been fortunate enough to sell a few pieces to The Reader’s Digest, and the editor with whom I had been working, Hobart Lewis, invited me to Chappaqua, advising that, “Mr. Wallace would like to meet you.” I was frightened to death as I was ushered into Mr. Wallace’s office – after all, he was one of the greatest figures in journalistic history, and I was, really, a nobody. (click Read More above)