Ferguson: Gossipy Washington (10-18-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 18, 1943)


Ferguson: Gossipy Washington

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

People who live in Washington are unfortunate – they have to take it as a steady diet, while the visitor merely nibbles and can enjoy the flavor before it grows rancid.

For me, coming to Washington is like stepping into a crowded ladies room, where nose powdering, supporter adjusting, and intimate whispering goes on. The atmosphere is strongly feminine because this is the most gossipy city in the USA. Yet women are not its chief talebearers.

I’ve always believed a man can outdo his wife anytime in the matter of spreading petty rumors; the average male also possesses a talent for half-truth and double-talk and Washington proves it. The ladies, of course, aren’t backward, but if you want to hear plain malicious gossip, talk to the men. In hotel lobbies and restaurants, huddles of them exchange cabalistic symbols. They usually carry briefcases and talk behind their hands in arch-conspirator fashion. Whatever may be the reason, the capital is forever filled with rumors, innuendoes and off-the-record stories. Something besides the air is muggy there.

Truth is the most elusive creature in the city of magnificent distances.

Nevertheless, because all of us are gossipers at heart, Washington remains the most fascinating of all cities. Not because it is the seat of our government and carries the burden of our destiny, but because it is the place where all the delicious, spicy, infectious talk originates.


Mrs. Ferguson’s description was valid in 1943 and continues to be valid today in the year 2022. This is a sad commentary about human beings, particularly those involved in our national government.