Hometown Appetite’s

Special thanks to Gothem Publishing and authors Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris for permission to print this chapter from Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate (2008). Harris is an archivist at Hale Library, Kansas State University, which houses the Paddleford collection. Alexander was an editor at Saveur magazine.

Chapter 1

Just Watch My Footprints

Now here was a scandal. The year was 1913, the time was about six o’clock in the morning, and the place was the train depot in the prairie town of Manhattan, Kansas, in the flint Hills 125 miles west of Kansas City. The usual eastward movement of businessmen and farmers was in full flow, but if one looked closely she could easily spot the intrigue; An area merchant, male, was at the very moment boarding a train with a female not his wife. The local newspaper reporter who staked out the station each morning joyfully scribbled in her notebook. “Could this scoop land on the front page?” the journalist likely prayed. She was all of fifteen years old.

Clementine Paddleford, a gangly teen with a close-cropped bob that accentuated her eyes, had been awake since 4 a.m., having already adapted to her writing routine. First, she practiced piano, then completed her household chores, and finally left her home on Poyntz Avenue and headed straight for the railroad platform. She was still in high school, but Paddleford had a professional newspaper career on the front burner. Hardly a metropolis, Manhattan, then a town of seven thousand people, happened to be a place where a young girl could learn a thing or two about journalism if so inclined. For one thing, Kansas State Agricultural College, opened in 1863 as the first college created as a land-grant institution, had its main campus in the town. The school had recently begun offering a four year couse in industrial journalism, so local people were becoming familiar with the subject. For another, Paddleford’s family, who had relocated from a farm to the nearby town of Stockdale before finally settling in Manhattan just a couple of years before, took in boarders, some of whom might have takend journalism classes. Ultimately, though, some people just seem to have been born with a nose for news, and the fifteen-year-old at the depot was one.

To earn extra money, she had taken a reporting job with a local newspaper. Her task was to writ short newsy columns- reports of comings and goings- for the Daily Chronicle. The depot was always Paddleford’s first destination: What better place?

Sadly, before the intrepid reporter’s big scoop could make it back to the newsroom, reality intervened in the form of her father who quicley learned his daughter’s plans for her column and even more quickly put his foot down.

Usually, no one in town was safe from this reporter’s prying ways. There was apparently nothing she wouldn’t do in pursuit of story. Busybody Paddleford even made house calls, dropping in on her neighbors and asking her standard question: “What has happened in your house since yesterday?” That these conversations yielded actual published articles says something about the nature of small towns, to be sure, but it says far more about Paddleford’s tenacity—her early journalistic intuition, while a bit on the pesky side, certainly had perfect pitch.

Paddleford’s journalistic activities, ambitious and amateurish, were a perfect antidote to boredom for a teenager who lived before radios were commonplace in homes. Journalism was a moderately exotic form of entertainment, but Paddleford was by no means an average girl.

Clementine Haskin Paddleford, born on September 27, 1898, on Mill Creek near Stockdale, to Solon Marion and Jennie Stroup Romick Paddleford, did not arrive with a silver spoon in her mouth, but there might have been an iron bit in there; She was determined to prevail and fearless in pursuit of success. No one could be timid who starts out at fifteen covering train depots and grows up to travel 800, 000 miles in twelve years to cover the world of food. The wanderlust that ruled her life probably deprived from the men in her family, chiefly and grandfather, Stephen Decature Paddleford, and her father, solon.

Stephen, know as Cate, was born in the summer of 1830 to a family of farmers in Broome County, New York, in the Southern tier near the border with Pennsylvania. Like many of his young and poor contemporaries, he caught gold rush fever and at eighteen, joined the forty-niners in their trek west. After wildcatting, he settled down, but only for eleven years. He then packed up his wife and three kids and headed east to Kansas, where the government had opened free land to homesteaders willing to live and farm there. A pioneer of the bluestem Prairie, Cate was among the earliest settlers to farm on Mill Creek in riley County, five miles west of Stockdale.

Pioneer prairie life was tough; it required taming wild land and extra grit just to feed a family. The circumstances inspired a work ethic immortalized in novels of the frontier such as Willa Cather’s “My Ántonia,” in which an immigrant Bohemian family attempts to conquer the great Nebraska prairie, published in 1918, and Ole Edvart Rolvaag’s “Giants in the Earth,” in which some hearty Norwegians undertake a similar farm-or-die quest in the Dakotas, published in 1927. The women in these novels were strong in ways that seem almost unimaginable today. They struggled to keep house, raise families as storms of locusts destroyed their crops, they had limited access to medical help, and they had almost no resources beyond what the land yielded. Like many such prairie families, the Paddlefords experienced grim years, and the women were what held them together.

One of these was Cate’s wife, Caroline. Caroline took solace in her home and, no matter what, safeguarded the few precious things she had. Her granddaughter Clementine derived inspiration from her, remembering Caroline as “the most immaculate housekeeper in Riley County,” writing that one “could eat off grandma’s cellar floor.” Paddleford also reported that Caroline’s “washings were the whitest that flapped on a Kansas breeze,” and that her grandmother would hang “the best linens on the clothesline strung across the front yard just to show neighbors as they went driving by.” Caroline was also a good farm cook whose recipes for stick-to-your-ribs, satisfying foods were remembered fondly by her granddaughter; Paddleford eventually published one of Caroline’s cake recipes in a column on Kansas cooking.

Caroline set a formidable example, but the most important figure in the young woman’s life was her mother, Jennie, whose family were also considered pioneers of the Bluestem Prairie. Jennie’s work ethic was ingrained, but she also had an extra helping of gumption. Jennie came from farming stock, but she had attended college, unusual for a woman in her day. In 1883, Jennie took one of the earliest home economics courses Kansas State offered. After two years she left to teach school, a path not uncommon for women in the prairies. Three years later she married Solon, another Kansas State student whose brother had been a college classmate. After a brief adventure trying to secure land in the Oklahoma Territories- Solon had inherited his father’s wanderlust- Jennie and her husband settled on a farm at Mill Creek not far from Solon’s parents. On September 29, 1890, Glenn Decatur Paddleford was born. The second child, Margaret, born nearly five years later, died in infancy. Three years later, in 1989, came Clementine, who became the apple of her mother’s eye.

The little girl’s early years, spent on farms, were unusually influential in her later work. She was a participant and a close-in witness to the labors and joys of living and eating by the seasons, as well as to particular hardships of farm life for women, and she has developed a deep empathy for the plight of these farm women trying to feed their families with as much sophistication and dignity as their circumstances would permit.

This perspective was an enduring gift; many years later, the editor at This Week magazine, William I. Nichols, wrote of Paddleford’s ability to draw from a well of “unusually happy memories of her growing-up years.” If the daughter inherited wanderlust from the male members of her family, her charisma, spunk, and pluck came from Jennie. Any question about Paddleford’s adult character may be answered by looking at the ways Jennie’s own iron will served as a model.

Her family’s first spread was near Stockdale, which at is height has a population of one hundred. But the mother-daughter bond was made sturdy after February 15, 1906, when Solon and Jennie purchased 260 acres east of the Big Blue River south of town. On a knoll close to a low hill, the built a two-story farmhouse with a big wraparound front porch- the kind for lying about and daydreaming, for sitting on a swing and watching fireflies on hot summer evenings. Paddleford deeply relished her surroundings, which she described as idyllic farm shaded by elm trees and made beautiful by her mother’s prized lilac hedge.

The hedge itself bespoke Jennie’s character and determination. “It stood for some sturdy fiber of her will which was the ramrod of her soul,” Paddleford wrote. It was not planted on a whim. After a winter of planning her flower beds and mail-ordering seeds, Jennie was eagerly awaiting the first thaw so that she could grab her spade and begin working. Then her husband announced that a new pig run would be built along the west side of the house leading from the hog barn in the back to the alfalfa fields below- in prime view of anyone enjoying the front porch. “It is the only place for it,” he declared to his family, “you can see that with half an eye.” This statement, logical as it might have been, did not sit well with Jennie, who had long dreamed of sitting on her porch and enjoying flowers, including deep purple and lavender lilacs blooming from a twenty-foot-tall hedge.

“I won’t have those old sows spoil our view from the porch,” Jennie said as she stomped from the room, slamming the door behind her. Despite this protest, Solon did indeed install his pig run. After a week of putting up with its unsightly- and smelly- presence, Jennie disappeared one morning and did not return until after dark. When she came back, it was with a baggy full of lilac cuttings. The next morning, Jennie planted a hedge, right in front of the pig run, “tirelessly, turning the sod with twenty, thirty, forty, broad holes,” Paddleford wrote. “These will shut out the sight of those old sows,” Jennie declared. “Nothing finer than lilacs for a door-yard lane.” Once finished, Jennie eyed her work with pride, then turned and gave her daughter a piece of earthy philosophy: “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”

This lesson in perseverance made an indelible impression. Not only did lilacs become a symbol of motherhood to her- as an adult, Paddleford wore a spray of lilacs in honor of Jennie every Mother’s Day- but it also shaped the nature that Paddleford would become famous for: There would be no wishbones here.

In the Blue Valley farmhouse the little girl passed a mere six years of her childhood, yet she gathered a lifetime of memories and lessons. One had to do with Jennie’s strict insistence that her daughter be a part of her community- she staunchly held that even though the Paddlefords were considered fairly prosperous in their social circle, her children were considered fairly prosperous in their social circle, her children were not to judge themselves above the others. Jennie worked hard to teach good citizenship in her daughter. “My mother should have been a Communist,” Paddleford once confided to Nichols. “Everything had to be shared.” At the insistence of Jennie, Paddleford had to tolerate other children on her piano seat and in her playhouse, and she even had to offer her treats around. On receiving her first-ever store-bought chocolates, young Clementine was ecstatic. But she was not permitted to hoard them. Once a week, she was made to pass her candy around to the rest of the family. Jennie explained that nothing should be squirreled, but her daughter was not utterly converted. In anticipation of a future drought, she put eight pieces of the chocolate into a sack and hid it in the hay barn. When her candy box was finally empty, she headed for her stash. As she retrieved the sack, the bottom fell out and melted chocolate drizzled through. A small brown river flowed into the alfalfa. Jennie had been right: There was no reward for keeping one’s riches to oneself. “Nothing must be hoarded, to share a present give a pleasure twice,” Paddleford wrote of this episode. As a paradigm for a career spent distributing prize recipes by newsprint, it’s hard to beat.

By far the most valuable lesson the mother gave her daughter involved an attitude towards the kitchen and preparation of food. Unlike some other farm women who viewed cooking as a chore, Jennie felt that putting dinner on the table for the family was a great source of joy. She believed that eating together meant sharing a life and a history, and that if she could keep her family happy around the dinner table they could get through just about anything. Jennie respected tradition and mealtimes were especially sacred to her. “Togetherness was a word uncoined in my mother’s generation,” Paddleford wrote. “But she knew the secret of its meaning. At our supper table there was a family togetherness plus… Supper was a time for laughter. Arguments were forbidden.”

Christmas at the Paddelfords’ was several days in preparation and included a multi-course meal that Jennie spent weeks planning. As it neared, the house began to smell richly of balsam and gingerbread.  The floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree, a conifer cut fresh from the pasture, was covered with hand-decorated cookies. The promise of mincemeat pies and plum pudding inspired the daughter of the house to exert extra effort in the kitchen. To her fell the job of cracking black walnuts, which were prominent in a number of goodies including plum pudding, divinity, taffy, and vanilla opera caramels. She used a hammer borrowed from the tool shed to smash each nut on the bottom of a sadiron she held firmly between her knees. She then dug out the meats with a hairpin. This was laborious, time-consuming, and achingly boring, but the kind of work that causes on to savor each bit of candy- it was worth the effort.

Jennie went all out, and she had a knack for turning ordinary ingredients- like plain old soda crackers- into something special, like inventive cocktail hors d’oeuvre that the kids at the table put away by the handful. (Years later, when she was a professional food editor at the Christian Herald, Paddleford would publish these “souffléd crackers,” which she’d gussied up with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, and suggest to her readers that this “new… and good” recipe was great for serving alongside oyster stew.) Jennie splurged on exotic ingredients such as celery, cranberries, and oranges, which were ordered in advance from John Sweet’s general store. Grandfather Cate always ordered sharp cheddar cheese from new York State; it was his taste of home. Most anticipated of all, though, were the oysters. Every November, Sweet ordered them from Kansas City and they arrived overland in big wooden barrels; these Jennie used to make her silken oyster stew: “How tantalizing that milky, creamy sea smell,” Paddleford would remember.

Jennie spent her days cooking, but Solon was involved, too. He planted and harvested the corn every year, so it was only fitting that he popped it when the time came. “Popcorn and Christmas were one and the same to his way of thinking,”  Paddleford wrote of her father. “Popcorn was his obby, Christmas his delight.” Solon popped batches and batches of corn, their distinctive nutty-buttery fragrance clinging to every sofa cushion, carpet, and curtain in the house.

These holiday festivities were the highlight of the year, especially since farm life could be monotonous and bleak during the harsh Kansas winters, and it was not a lot easier in the summer. Many times the rain failed and the crops died as the land became parched. On rare occasions, the climate struck back and the fields were flooded to ruin.

To endure Mother Nature’s temper, Jennie punctuated the days by seizing every excuse to make merry. In keeping with farm life’s celebration of the seasons, summer brought the Fourth of July picnic in John Sweet’s grove. This provided a welcome opportunity for neighbors to socialize and take a break from their labors, especially wheat threshing. Farm families and town folks gathered under the whispering cottonwoods to have a good time and to hear rah-rah speeches given from a platform decorated with bunting. Crowding the table were cakes and pies. Paddleford’s own favorite summer indulgence was her mother’s strawberry shortcake, made from the first of the season. “When the berries were full and red ripe… my job was to pick half a milk-pail full for the first shortcake. It was as exciting as a treasure hunt, one’s hand searching out the heart-shaped fruit deep under the leaves,” she wrote later.

Memories of the following dessert loomed large for Paddleford—it became iconic for her, and indeed for the rest of her life she relished writing about strawberry season and did so with particular poetic gusto. Of strawberry shortcake she once wrote: “The juice ran in rivulets, making a crimson lake on the plate.” This eloquence, florid as it may have been, did not go unnoticed; for one thing, it was unlike any other food writing of the time, and for another, it is mighty hunger-inducing: Such reading made mouths water. The film critic Judith Crist, who got her start at the Herald Tribune in the middle 1940s, was a great admirer of Paddleford, particularly of her yearly strawberry columns. “She was the first food writer I ever encountered who made me feel her enthusiasm for what she was talking about, yes, but also made me taste it,” Crist says. “I remember a column she wrote about the first strawberries for the season and I wanted t rush out and buy a quart and I could just taste them on my palate.”

Strawberries may have been the premier of Paddleford’s farm-born tastes, but there were other special food-related events that held sway, too, especially birthdays. “There was always time at Blue Valley Farm to celebrate a birthday,” Paddleford said.

Her own birthday parties lived large in her memory, and none more than her tenth. More than a dozen children were invited for an afternoonof games and supper. Jennie’s sure hand at creating ganciful table displays had never been put to better use: The table was covered with pink crepe paper and an acetylene lamp gave everything a golden glow. There was an enormous platter of fried chicken and mounds of buttery mashed potatoes. When Jennie called her child into the dining room to discuss seating arrangements, the little girl got so excited by the display she put her hand on a nerby sofa and kicked her feet up in pure joy. One foot hit the table, knowcking the lamp’s china globe into a pitcher of lemonade. Fine glass shattered everywhere. “The day of my life!” Jennie exclaimed. But when the mother saw her daughter’s distress, she said: “You are nt to cry. You are ten years old. I will get supper again.”

And so she did. Two neighbor ladies came over to assist as the birthday girl’s brother, Glenn, was dispatched to kill more chickens. Eureka Bolt, Jennie’s kitchen helper, made more mashed potatoes whle Jennie redecorated the table. By eight o’ clock the tired, hungry children pulled chairs up to a setting that was entirely different from the original but equally breath taking to the celebrant: The pink crepe paper had been replaced by a hand-embroidered tablecloth and the lamp with three ordinary oil lamps, each crowned with a wreath of flowers. The fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, iced tea, and birthday cake and ice cream were a huge success—Paddleford’s guests went home sated and happy, exhausted from an afternoon extended to a late-night feast. Jennie decreed the event “the longest birthday party anyone ever had.” The mother’s exertion in easing her child’s disappointment and shame combined with her triumphant outcome makes it hard not to imagine this was the moment when an appreciation for the art—not just the science—of home economics was born in young Paddleford.

With a mother so creative and determined, it is clear where Paddleford acquired her own active imagination and her intense desire to make good on her dreams. Understanding the trials and tribulations—and the joys, too—of farmers was inextricably linked to what it was to be a food writer in Paddleford’s era, and, willy-nilly, she had learned the subject from the inside out.

But the days on the farm were numbered. Perhaps seeking a more controllable home life and a more consistent income, Solon and Jennie sold blue Valley Farmon September 7, 1911, and moved into Stockdale. Solon had arranged to manage the grocery store and post office near the railroad tracks, and his family moved into a house next to the bank. The stop in Stockdale proved brief. Within two years, Solon was given bitten by the spirit of adventure. He moved when the opportunity came in the fall of 1913 to purchase the Star Grocery Store, a larger operation in a larger town nearby, Manhattan.

Compared to Stockdale, and certainly the blue Valley Farm, Manhattan was an actual city, known best as the home of Kansas State. It was here that the teenage Paddleford began her career. What drove her to journalism? Hearing fellow students talk about it played a role, as did curiosity about her surroundings, and a spirit of supreme industriousness. But probably more important, Paddleford was an inveterate writer of letters to grandparents or notes in her own carefully maintained scrapbooks; she kept track of things. Journalism was a natural for her once she learned what it was.

Even in those days, Paddleford paid special attention to the food that accompanied various activities. She took care to note in her scrapbooks the menus for many of her teenage outings. For instance, one winter afternoon, her classmate Emery Taylor rounded up as many of the high school’s 1917 senior class as possible and took them to a lake where they ice skated until full dark. Back in town, the group ended up at another student’s house where they dined on “scrambled brains, frog legs, and steak.” Like strawberries, steak became a symbol of good home cooking to Paddleford—long after she became rich and famous and employed her own cook, a simple steak was what she made on her maid’s night off.

Although Manhattan was a farm town, it was not isolated from world affairs. On April 6, 1917, in the spring semester of Clementine’s senior year, the United States entered the World War and her brother, Glenn, registered for military service. Though he was not called to duty, his sister had many friends who were and she was naturally unsettled. In her scrapbook there is a newspaper clipping of a poem likely written by Paddleford herself, who was known among her classmates as a poet. It reads:

As the Rookie Thinks

When you saunter through the gate,

They say, “You’ll like it,”

When they take your cigarettes, they say, “You’ll like it.”

When they hand you out your clothes,

And rub cold cream on your nose,

And disturb your sweet repose, they say “You’ll like it.”


When you’re settled down in peace,

You’ll say, You like it.

When the pains of three shots cease

You’ll say, You like it.

You’ll be right there on the job,

To salute the newest gob,

And to say without a sob,

“You’ll like it.”

On June 1, 1917, Paddleford graduated form Manhattan High School. Like her parents before her she would be a student at Kansas State, joining the student body of 2,406. Just as there was no question about where she would matriculate, there was also no question her course of study: industrial journalism. The most popular major for women of the day was home economics but Paddleford had already fulfilled the required courses in this area during her high school vacations, so she was unleashed into her chosen field.

The campus she entered had no especially steep hills to scale on the way to class, and the buildings were spread openly along the fields of grass. The architecture, carried out in white Kansas limestone, retains a fairly sturdy institutional look. In those days, it resembled more of a converted farm than an academy: Herds of sheep grazed the campus. A picturesque entrance, which today opens to what is Kansas State University, was always known as Lover’s Lane. It is a tree-lined walkway that blooms gloriously in spring and is strewn with colorful leaves in autumn.

The first dormitories for the Aggies were not built until 1926 (and when they finally came into existence, they had no reliable water supply, were heated only by steam, and the electricity was fairly primitive), so students lived in private homes; some male students even lived in dairy barns. Paddlefore emulated her mother’s boarders and lived at home. Although she was under the eye of her parents, she got free rein to enjoy a full social life in addition to her ambitious class schedule. Ever the recordkeeper, Paddleford pasted into her scrapbook invitations and souvenirs from dances, sorority and fraternity parties, plays, swimming and hiking outings, and Kansas Authors Club events she attended. Paddlford loved swimming and seized every opportunity. She and a group of friends often drove east to the small town of Wamego for a day of splashing around in “Ye Old Swimming Hole.” Such outings proved poignant memories. After Paddleford recovered from cancer and learned that the aperture I her throat meant she could never swim again lest she put her life in jeopardy, she recalled those times with special fondness.

Hiking dates and men who made passes are noted in the scrapbooks, but one pursuer stand out: Lloyd David Zimmerman, an engineering student from Lockney, Texas, fell head over heels in love with Paddleford. A smart-looking man with his hair brushed fashionably back from his face to reveal inviting, wide-set eyes, a vast forehead, a square jaw and a knowing smile, Zimmerman was a good catch. Paddleford and Zimmerman probably met at a school dance, and by May 11, 1918, had become more than casually acquainted. Paddleford herself, despite her urge to record every moment, blacked out a note in her guest book that Zimmerman wrote that day. Zimmerman’s name next appears in the book three months later, when he wrote, “This is a starter—Just watch my Footprints thru this book hereafter!” Paddleford’s initial attempt to conceal a budding romance failed; whatever Zimmerman said to Paddleford was enough for her to continue to accept the company of the man she called “Zimm.” “Why do good looking men always life funny looking girls?” she asked her mother, only somewhat joking.

And he did like Paddleford. Thereafter many notes and invitations from Zimm to his young lady followed; based on volume alone, it is a wonder the young man had any time left over for his engineering studies. Quantity was matched with ardor: His notes practically beg for an audience, a dance, a meeting. Paddleford kept all of her invitations and dance cards, and even took lessons so that she could add to the usual repertoire of steps—shuffle, toddle, and cheek-to-cheek. The lessons instead involved what the college authorities called “freak dancing,” or steps that involved close body-to-body “wiggling.” Paddleford surely enjoyed wiggling away with her buddies—she was no prude, and Lloyd Zimmerman was a happy partner. One of Zimmerman’s cards to Paddleford depicts a couple sitting in a chair, the woman on the man’s lap and the two locked in a kiss, “Bugs—just look at this and say you are in her place and I under’neath—and love me lots in your mind, till I see you Fri. evening, when spiritual love will be overthrown. Your-Zimm.” Considering Paddleford’s formidable reputation and authority in later life, it is charming to think of “Bugs” as a term of endearment for her.

Zimmerman was not one to play it cool, and he was especially outspoken in his writing. He inscribed on Paddleford’s 1921 Gamma Chi Kappa Sigman dance book: “I love you dear, I’ll tell you here, At our last KE Party in School I’ll love you forever And ever, and ever, and ever, In a little home all our own.” On the other side of the little booklet he wrote: “Bare Knees, Bare backs-and rolled hose. Such sights, Are what drive me wild-you know. Zimm.” Not hard to fall in love with an Arrow collar Man who could dash off such overheated messages.

Her liaison with Zimmerman may have been on a rolling boil, but Paddleford was not easily sidetracked. Food played a huge part at dances and parties and when she went to the local restaurants and cafés she never failed to walk away with a menu and paste it in to the scrapbook. The menus she collected were from restaurants on the Kansas State student strip, including the Student’s Inn, Rex Roy Café, Harrison’s, and Colson’s College Inn Café. Handwritten notes disclose that Rex Roy’s Café was open all night and that Paddleford dubbed the Student’s Inn “The Pie Store.” On the Harrison’s menu, Paddleford wrote, “Johnie has cheated me out of ten gallons of ice cream since last fall” and “The hang out for the gang.” On the Colson College Inn menu, she wrote, “The place for microbes and good looking men.” Menu collecting was a habit Paddleford never lost. When she died she left more than seven hundred.

Other good meals and openings to a wider world came in academic guise. As a member of the Kansas Authors club, Paddleford traveled to conferences. Carl Sandburg, then just bursting onto the Chicago arts scene, and a young Karl Menninger from Topeka, were among the people she met on the conference circuit. At these meetings, the banquets were grand, and Paddleford reveled in the opportunities.

Like many college students, Paddleford had to make money. Although the Paddlefords had been relatively well off compared with other families in the countryside, life in the city was more expensive, even with boarders to help pay the mortgage. If Paddleford wanted spending money, she had to earn it. So she turned to what she knew she could do, and began to write articles on a freelance basis for farm magazines and state and local newspapers. In those days the idea of buying articles from a college student was, if unusual, not out of the question, and Paddleford took hold. Her opportunities expanded in her junior year when she became associate editor of the college newspaper The Collegian; editor of the three-thousand-circulation Morning Chronicle, the local paper for which she snooped as a high schooler, and a stringer for The Kansas Post, The Kansas City Star and Topeka Daily Capitol.

In these endeavors, Paddleford got strong support from her journalism professor Charles Rogers. Rogers would remain one of Paddleford’s friends long after her college years ended and her own fame far exceeded his. They exchanged many letters over the years. She remained ever grateful for his mentoring. Years later, when her ward, Claire Jorgensen, was looking for work in journalism Paddleford had her spend time with Rogers, who went on to write a beautiful letter of recommendation.

In her senior year, Paddleford became editor of The Collegian. Immediately and with great gusto she began to assess the newspaper and make changes, and to crack down on what she perceived as laziness on the part of the staff, who happened to be her classmates. They were not pleased. In the so-called “Doomsday Edition,” the yearly issue in which students traditionally aired their grievances over various administrative policies (a tradition that exists at K-State to this day, since renamed “The Game Day Edition” and now devoted exclusively to sports) the staff squawked. “The Collegian staff are all threatening to resign because of the extensive and entirely inhumane editorial scope of the Collegian,” the complaint read. “They say it is a practical impossibility for the staff to live up to all the reforms that Clementine preaches and they aren’t even going to try.”

The new editor wasn’t just blowing smoke, though—she had really earned her chops. In those days a reporter was measured by the number of column inches of work printed in the paper. By her sophomore year Paddleford was far and away the leader in The Collegian with 234 inches of type; her nearest competition, Laura Moore, had 112. For the faculty newspaper The Industrialist, Paddleford placed first with ninety inches, followed by Greta Lund with twenty-one. With such prodigious output, it is easy to see how the other students felt they could not compete.

In light of her record as a student journalist, Paddleford seemed quite the all-consumed “professional student,” but she squeezed in other extracurricular activities, too. She played on the championship women’s basketball team all through school. The players, all from their home state, were known as “The Invincible Seven.” Their winning streak started in the spring of 1918 and continued for four years. Paddleford declared her group “one of the fastest girls’ basketball teams that ahs ever played on the Aggie court.”

In college she began to take on a whole range of subjects to cover in the paper, things that stretched beyond campus life: agriculture, humor, social events, and workers’ issues. For instance, a profile of one Louise Smith explained that women were beginning to enter the world of retail internships. Smith, who took a clothing salesmanship course that required her to clerk in a local shop, “believed there would be less dissatisfaction among shop girls if they knew something of the scientific side of the work.” Reporting such stories gave Paddlerod’s voice depth and exposed her to larger issues in society, but more than anything in honed her skills; she seems instinctively to have known that the only way to be a good writer was to practice as much as possible. Soon enough she would be put to the test outside the environment of family and college.

On Thursday, June 2, 1921, Paddleford graduated from college, as neither of her parents had. Once again there was no question in her mind where her future was. She knew that New York City was the hub of all the newspapers in the world, and her heart was set on it. Still, it could not have been easy to leave everything and everyone she had ever known to go to the intimidating city. If her mind was reeling with possibilities, her heart was heavy. Not for the last time in her life, Paddleford decided to put work first- not for her was the giddiness of her newly engaged friends who were already planning families and church suppers.

Paddleford was scared to leave Kansas, as she reported in her journal, but she decided not to show it. The morning of her leave-taking was matter-of-fact as ever. On returning from a brief graduation trip with friends, she walked into the room where her mother was sitting and breezily said, “Good-bye, Mom, I’m off for New York.” Although the exchange could not have been entirely glib, Paddleford was not one to agonize; her mother after all had told her not to grow a wishbone instead of a backbone.

For her part, Jennie could not have anticipated anything less from her headstrong daughter. Still, it must not have been easy for Jennie to have bid farewell. “Take along some shelled corn to drop so you can find your way back,” she said. “I’ll send you the egg money until you get a job.”

Paddleford knew what a rare gift she had from her mother, in a day when women did not routinely leave their families and travel alone to faraway dangerous cities. “Even when she knew I was making mistakes,” Paddleford wrote, “she let me make them without a backfire of ‘I told you so’s.’ Not for anything would she have let the long shadow of mamma fall across her children’s paths.”

One thing Paddleford was not leaving behind was her relationship with Lloyd Zimmerman. He had a plan to go to graduate school in New York, and would be heading there with his own set of friends. He was ambitious, too, and given the ear, all who knew them must have expected marriage was in the wind. So Paddleford would not be entirely alone in the Manhattan on the Hudson. Her love for Jennie would have been the only hesitation, but she did not let it stop her from boarding the train east.