People forget at every age

At age 48, I wanted to advance in my career so I went back to school to get a Master’s degree in communications.
It was a busy two years—working 32 hours a week, taking two classes a semester, trying to take care of the house, and driving five hours a week to get to classes.
In order to cut down on the driving, I chose to write a thesis in lieu of six hours of class work.
After three or four starts, I was desperate to find a topic. So I decided to go to the journalism library and peruse abstracts of dissertations and theses from other communication schools.
As I read, two recurring topics caught my attention—sex roles and the comics.
Although I had never thought about the comics as worthy of researching, it seemed like it would be fun. Several hours later, I had a well-formulated topic—sex roles in the comics, from the beginning of the comics ’til now.
As a result, I became an expert of sorts on the comics. I spoke many times and was featured in the paper of a neighboring city, which led to an invitation to be the “Real Marie Snider” on “To Tell the Truth.”
On the show, Kitty Carlyle asked one easy question, “Who is the creator of Brenda Starr?” Fortunately, one comic strip I had found unusually interesting was “Brenda Starr, Reporter” created by Dale Messick.
Introduced in 1940, Brenda Starr seemed strangely out of place. At that time, the comics were completely dominated by supermen—“Tarzan of the Apes,” “Flash Gordon,” “Batman,” “Superman,” and others. In addition, there were few female reporters and virtually no female comic strip creators.
That’s the reason why Dahlia Messick changed her name to Dale.
Born in 1906, Messick had a flair for drawing. She studied art and got a job in her early 20s designing greeting cards at a Chicago publishing house for $10 a week.
She was so successful that a few years later, she went to New York City and earned an amazing Depression-era salary of $50 a week as a commercial artist.
In her mid-30s, she wanted to draw a comic strip, but all of her submissions were turned down. Undaunted, she decided the only way she could break into the male-dominated field was to change her name.
The trick worked and her next submission was accepted by the Chicago Tribune.
The strip was an immediate hit. At its peak, “Brenda Starr, Reporter” had a readership of 60 million people worldwide. The U.S. Post Office issued a commemorative postage stamp and Hollywood made a movie, starring Brooke Shields.
Dale Messick was as liberated as her red-headed heroine. And she was still drawing and giving interviews into in her 90s.
I admired Dale Messick. So Carlyle’s question should have been easy—“Who is the creator of Brenda Starr?”
I stood there a while and finally said, “I don’t know.” You could say it was the stress of the situation, but whatever the case, I still couldn’t remember her name.
After returning home, I had to look up the answer. I was 52 at the time and no one said it was a “senior moment.”
So next time you forget, remember how many times you forgot important information when you were young.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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