Georgia Gianakos Buchanan ’48 has written a memoir of her rich and varied experiences, both in her hometown of Indianapolis and in the many other places where she lived and traveled over the past 85 years.
Included in 428 ½ : My Journey Beyond the Railroad Tracks are such tales as the day Cary Grant came unannounced to her desk at the Indianapolis News where she covered movies and the “golden age” of television. At another interview, she and Jack Benny shared a laugh when she said he really was a “skinflint” (a role he portrayed all his life) when he helped himself to half of her lunch sandwich.
Buchanan’s six-year career at the News sent her on press junkets to New York and Hollywood and earned her interviews with dozens of the leading celebrities. She also spent five years as the news assistant to famed radio commentator Fulton Lewis Jr. at Mutual Broadcasting in Washington, D.C., when she and her husband lived there in the 1950s and 1960s.
Interested in writing all of her life, she honed her skills at Manual and Shortridge High Schools and at Butler University, before striking out on a decades-long career.
Her marriages took her not only to Washington, but on world travels, including the opportunity to dine with the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, while paying for the privilege to spend a few days on their English estate. It was a long way from growing up with other children of immigrants of Eastern and Southern Europe in “The District,” an Indianapolis neighborhood slightly west of the state capitol.
The Gianakos family lived in a 24-step walk-up at 428-1/2 W. Washington St., a few doors from her father’s restaurant. Though her early years may have been humble, it was the determination and resilience of her parents, both born in Greece, that drove her own desire to become educated and participate in an active social and political life, while sharing their concerns to help those less fortunate.
Woven throughout this book are the challenges and high points of being the mother of a special-needs son who benefited from his mother’s encouragement for him to excel as much as he could.
After her career in journalism, she became well known for her success as a fundraiser, creating and implementing gala events for many local arts organizations and charities, raising a total of $1 million. Her organizational skills, her knowledge of the community, and her bold approach to raising money earned her a reputation as the person you wanted to manage your organization’s fundraisers.
Wisely, she has, throughout her book, listed local, national, and international events happening at that point in her life, giving readers a perspective that many memoirs do not offer. Whether the reader is very familiar with the content of her book or approaches it with little knowledge of her 8 1/2 decades, or the current events of those years, her memoir provides a warm reminiscence of a life well-lived.
428 ½ : My Journey Beyond the Railroad Tracks by Georgia Gianakos Buchanan, IBJ Custom Publishing, paperback, 274 pp., illus., $16.95. To order, contact the author at Buchanan Books at firstname.lastname@example.org.