Longtime Journalist Puts Down the Pen

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OAKLAND -- If you're interested in the history of Susquehanna County, Helen B. Foster is someone you'll want to meet.

She's been covering the news in Susquehanna County for 50 years, but writing was never part of this longtime journalist's plan.

"As I like to say, one day I was standing in front of the stove, stirring the soup. The next day I was sitting in a news office," said Foster.

Foster started in sales, getting people to subscribe to the Susquehanna County Press.

Then, 10 years later, she became editor.

"I said, 'I promise you two things: I'll put the key in the lock and I'll turn on the lights. Anything else is a bonus,'" said Foster.

Foster's originally from Maryland but used to come to Susquehanna County every year for the Harford Fair. So, when it came time to settle down, she decided that Susquehanna was the perfect place. When she started working, school board meetings and borough meetings were her niche . That's where she got the nickname "Poison Pen."

The journalist said, "My friends would go to get the paper and they'd say, 'Oh, I wonder what Poison Pen had to say this week?'"

Foster has been freelance writing for the Susquehanna Independent Weekender for a few years now.

But, at age 85, she says it's time to put down the pen.

Foster said she won't forget the longest story she covered: the new bridge connecting Susquehanna Borough with Oakland, which took 10 years from start to finish.

"I stuck with it and I was there when they cut the ribbon," said Foster.

The Helen B. Foster byline isn't going away just yet. She plans to write a few more stories on her favorite event, the Harford Fair.

"In my business, it was who, what, why, when and where, two good quotes and a couple of pictures and you had it made."

Foster said she will miss the people she would talk to the most and adds that, now, she has 50 years worth of friends in the county.