She devours the paper

The case of Blanche English, addicted to marginalia.

Wilmington News Journal - July 22, 1970

Update: I found a follow-up about Blanche English written in 2006 by Garth Wade, the Star-Gazette reporter who first discovered her unusual talent:

Blanche English became a nurse later in life but she was running a diner in Blossburg when I visited one morning to ask if she ate newspaper. My friend Dick Spencer told me she did, but I wanted proof. With some fear for my health, I blurted, "Pardon me, Mrs. English, but do you eat newspaper?"

Blanche laughed. I laughed. I had to because Blanche had one of those contagious laughs. Then we laughed some more.

This happy, marvelous lady admitted to eating newspaper. The craving started when she was pregnant with Douglas, the first of her five kids, she said. She would strip the edge of the newspaper where there was no ink, roll it up, chew a spell and swallow. The only newspaper she liked was the Star-Gazette.

So, I sat Blanche in one of her booths with a plate full of Star-Gazette and took her photo. The story generated Blanche's 15 minutes of fame. Talk shows called and newspapers sent copies imploring her to try their newsprint. Blanche remained faithful to the Star-Gazette. And her husband, Leonard, loved to tell about his wife's special talent.

Blanche became an LPN later and worked at the Broad Acres Nursing Home in Wellsboro. "She loved those folks and they loved her," said Linda English Cheyney, Blanche's daughter. Linda said her mother's habit continued well after Douglas' birth. "I remember her sitting at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee and the edges of the Star-Gazette were gone."

Blanche was 68 when she died 13 years ago. Leonard joined her last year.

Elmira Star-Gazette - Jun 5, 2006
     Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 19, 2018
     Category: Journalism | 1970s

Good thing she didn’t eat the inked parts. Until the 1980s, newspaper ink generally contained a fair amount of lead.
Posted by Brian on 03/19/18 at 11:01 AM
She was on a high-fiber diet. I'm curious about her cause of death. Sixty-eight is certainly below the average life expectancy.
Posted by ges on 03/19/18 at 09:32 PM
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