Vivian Castleberry: Journalist
An extremely bright, articulate woman, her close-cropped gray hair, pearls and suit reminiscent of the Kennedy era, Vivian Castleberry sips her cup of tea and tells her stories with a sardonic sense of humor and the same dry wit she deployed in print to blast those that treated her as “the little woman” journalist.
Vivian knew from day one that she wanted to be a writer. She attended college on her own dime and states that“I never deviated a jot or a piddle, I went straight to being a journalist." She goes on to say, “The war opened up lots of opportunities for women or I do not think I would have ever gotten to be editor of the SMU campus newspaper.” One of Vivian’s deans, a woman, said that said she would never make it as a writer and encouraged her to teach instead. This only made Vivian more determined. She would become one of the first females on an editorial board in the United States. All the while many men advised her she should be home with her babies. But Vivian wanted to write about babies, and the abuse that many women and children were suffering in Dallas, in both poor and wealthy families. “After the war was over they told us to go home again and find your ‘have-all-and-be-all’ within the four walls of home. There were a few of us that decided not to do that.”
Eventually, she landed a job at the Dallas Times Herald. “One of the male editors told me that he had never ever hired a woman that was a good writer,” she remembers. “I didn’t say what I wanted to say… maybe if you’d quit hiring Barbie dolls you’d find a woman who could do the job as well as any man.”
Her stories were very controversial in the beginning, but with the help of her friend Louise Raggio, who was then practicing family law in Dallas, her stories made a difference. Louise and Vivian founded The Family Place, the first women’s shelter in Dallas.