Demi-Tasse & Mrs. Grundy
A biography and collection of stories from 1924-1927
of author Josephine Van De Grift
Born in 1894 in Shelbyville, Indiana, Josephine grew up to be a well-loved writer in her day. Josephine Van De Grift, known to her readers as "Jo," and later became Mrs. William Rigby, began her writing career early in her teen years. A successful screenplay writer, she won several awards and scholarships which took her to New York to participate in Dr. George Pierce Baker's Harvard 47 workshop for her play "The Lonely Road."
While in New York, she worked for the Newspaper Enterprise Association (N.E.A.). She interviewed well-known celebrities of the era including authors including Richard Atwater (Mr. Poppers Penguins) and Dorothy Parker (and the Algonquin Round Table), actors including Will Rogers, philanthropists, Broadway chorus girls, sports heroes, circus performers and many more. I've placed those interviews (a select few) in the book. Additionally, she joined the Blue Pencil Club, an elite literary society the same year as H.P. Lovecraft. Another interesting tidbit is a six-part series she wrote while being undercover working on Broadway and off-Broadway as "Huldah Benson." All part of such an interesting life as a news reporter in the 1920's.
After a short time in New York, she decided to return to Ohio. She went on to become a successful society page editor for the Akron Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio between 1924-1927, wherein she met the love of her life in a book store. William Rigby, son of Irish immigrants, opened up his book store Rigby's Book Shop in 1924. She was his first customer! They married the following year in 1925 and she gave birth to daughter Mary on New Years Eve 1926. These two
events inspired and kept the public captivated with her stories of day to day life at 320 Fairy Street, and her adventures in the 1920's era of jazz, speakeasys, prohibition and "near beer," corset rebellion, and flappers.
Her time was cut short when she passed away suddenly at the age of 33 after childbirth complications of her second child. She left behind her husband and an infant daughter, only a few months shy of 2 years old.
During her stay in the hospital, local newspaper headlines were updated with her condition, including the front page. It appeared she was going to survive after several blood transfusions, but things took a spin for the worst. Her passing devastated her readers, with many writing in to share in their grief. All eyes were on her surviving daughter, Mary, and what was to be her fate. As Mary grew over the next few years, she too made headlines in the paper and captured the hearts of many of Josephine's readers. Jo's spirit lived on through her daughter. Her followers begged her husband Bill to one day make a book of all of her stories, but none was ever made, until now.
Almost a century later, her great-granddaughter Kristin (nee Carter) Groulx, also a writer, historian and genealogist, has taken the time to thumb through saved newspaper clippings and put them to paper in one book for Josephine's loved readers to see and remember her by.
With special abstracts by John Carter, Josephine's grandson and eldest child of her only daughter, Mary Jo Rigby.
With thanks given to the Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio.
Get to know Jo, as I have, as my great-grandmother and also as the creative and talented woman who impressed many by making waves in journalism and breaking hearts with her sudden unexpected death.
Featuring actual interviews and printed stories, transcribed for ease of reading, as well as select family photos and history.
Be entertained by
Demi-Tasse and Mrs. Grundy
December 25, 2019 (hardcover edition) ISBN: 978-0-9880861-3-5
early 2020 (paperback)
with Kindle and EPUB editions forthcoming