Years ago I sent out—mostly via US mail, but by e-mail to those few of us who had it—a monthly letter addressed to “Dear Martha White.” Martha White was not anyone’s real name. She was just a photo on a white sack of white flour, a symbol of good white stuff! And for me, she was a trick I learned when I worked in public relations for the Atlanta Police Department: Make an association to remember people’s names.
Mary Lyons was my alternate persona. The PR person for the county sheriff’s department, she was tall, red-headed, and the epitome of a WASP—a grown-up Margaret O’Brien. I, on the other-hand, am short, dark-haired and Jewish—anything but WASP-y. I associated Mary with the picture on the sack of Martha White flour. Over time, as we became friends, I would refer to her as Martha White—a name that was easier for me to remember.