Meet the Woman Who Made the World Laugh.
Erma Bombeck, a 1949 graduate of the University of Dayton, became a household name in the 1970s and 1980s. She spoke for the women of an entire generation, revealing that being a housewife and a mother came with its own sets of concerns, and wasn’t necessarily a glamorous occupation. She wrote with hilarity and wit.
But before she was Erma Bombeck, she was Erma Fiste. An aspiring writer, she wrote for several University of Dayton publications. It was during her time at UD that she developed her humorous writing style, which would stay with her throughout her career.
After graduation, Bombeck began a column, “Operation Dustrag,” in 1952 for the Journal Herald in Dayton. She continued to write the column until the arrival of her daughter, Betsy, the following year. In 1964, she began writing a humorous column, “Zone 59,” for the Kettering-Oakwood Times, a suburban paper. That’s when Glenn Thompson, editor of the Journal Herald, spotted her work and offered her $50 a week for two columns. Three weeks later, her column, “At Wit’s End,” was picked up nationally by the Newsday Newspaper Syndicate. Within only a few years, Erma’s column was appearing in more than 500 newspapers around the country, making her a household name. At the height of her popularity, 900 newspapers syndicated her column to an audience of 30 million people.