Front Page Woman By  Lorraine Gregoire  (aka: Miss Manning, Fall River)

 In the 1935 movie Front Page Woman starring Bette Davis, she was told that “Women make bad reporters.”  She should have tried it in 1892. It was 28 years before women could vote and if you said the word “era” it referred to a period of time, not the Equal Rights amendment.


Trying to fit into the role of a woman reporter I realized that not only would I probably have been treated badly back then but would have been told to find a husband, settle down and have babies.   With that in mind I decided to use it to my advantage.  The big day – Aug 4th the re-enactment of the Borden murders on Second St. in Fall River, MA.


As guests arrived they looked at me curiously and gave me a nervous smile. My goodness! You would think I was holding a hatchet instead of a steno book.  First, I introduced myself as Miss Manning a reporter for The Fall River Herald. This made them smile and relax a little.


Then I said “You will never guess what just happened!” Of course everyone asked “What?” So I told the following story:  I heard that there might be a ruckus at the Borden house so it had to be investigated. I knocked on the door which was answered by Dr. Dolan the state medical examiner. He told me that nothing was going on and rudely closed the door in my face, but not before I heard him disgustingly say “Reporters”.  I pleaded with everyone to please pay close attention to what they would  see and hear so I would be able to write my story.  If it was something really good I would have to hurry so the Editor wouldn’t replace me with a man.   The adults loved that part and all the children said that they would help me out.


 As the visitors were coming out of the cellar I would rush over for all the details “Gruesome!!”  That was the first fact from a boy around 8 years old. Then he added“Gruesome, but cool!” Most of the kids had wide eyes as they excitedly told me what they saw.  In order to deal with what he had seen, one boy told me that they have mannequins in there and they weren’t real people. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he just called two of my friends mannequins.  During the day they were also referred to as “bloody dead people.”  One mom came out with her son practically attached to her leg.  He didn’t say a word to me but his mom laughed and said “This is the first time he’s been quiet since the day he was born.”


 The adults told me that it was a great tour, better than expected.  It kind of surprised me but it seemed to really get them interested in what actually happened.  Almost all of them would hesitate and then quietly say “Can I ask you a question?”  My answer was, “Of course.”  Most were general questions about what happened which I felt confident answering.  If it was something I wasn’t sure of, I would just say I wasn’t 100% sure of the fact they were asking and referred them inside the gift shop where the staff could probably help them. Many of the people were headed to Oak Grove Cemetery after realizing that this was the final resting place of the entire family.


 I have never talked to so many people in one day. Everyone who knew about Lizzie seemed to have an opinion on who the guilty party was and couldn’t wait to share it. There were people from all over the country and one family from Ontario, Canada. Their daughter did a paper on the Borden case and when she found out they were going to vacation in New England  insisted to be in Fall River, MA on the 4th of  August.


  I must say thank you to all those visitors who graciously took the time to talk and help me with this story.  The following is a list of the places that these kind folks called home: 

Tacoma, Wa., Ft. Myers, FL, Wallingford, CT, Scranton, PA, Tiverton, MA

 New Bedford, MA,  Fort Wayne, IN, Ontario, Canada, No. Dartmouth, MA,

Land O Lakes, MN, Johnson City, NY,  Westport, CT,  Fall River, MA,  Taunton, MA

Pawtucket, RI, Cranston, RI,  Harrisburg, PA,  Nashua, NH,  Mission Hills, CA, 

Rochester, MA,  Sufferne, NY,  Windsor Locks, CT,  No. Boston, MA and

Westford, MA.  © Pear Essentials Productions/Lorraine Gregoire 2008