McGowans bar in Greenwich Village was a popular place where I hung out with other reporters, writers, artists, musicians, poets and actors. Many of the old hands there knew about the pretty high school student living in an apartment above it.
The name of the bar came up during a recent conversation with WRC-TV newscaster, Sue Simmons who laughed and said, "I don't think that place ever closed, I think my bed was just above the juke box.
"You guys with the boom, boom, boom, all night, maybe that's why I have circles under my eyes."
Some years have passed since then and when you looked closely there were no circles; Sue Simmons probably hasn't changed much from here high school days.
After three years and a few months as a newscaster for WRC-TV, Simmons is returning to her native New York to co-anchor the late news with Chuck Scarborough on WNBC-TV. Chuck Scarborough on WNBC-TV.
Her final show was Friday, Dec. 21. Now she looks forward to the six-figure salary and the step up to New York.
This is a dream come true and I'm looking forward to returning to New York," Simmons said the other day at her 3 p.m. breakfast of two chunks of French bread with globs of butter, two cups of coffee and a large bowl of chocolate ice cream.
The dream began for Simmons seven years ago when she responded to an ad and made the decision to enroll in an announcers training school. The rest became the success story those match books promise.
"After high school I went to a business school and became a typist," Simmons said. "One day while I was banging away trying to make the perfect copy for some executive to sign, I decided to enroll in a night school and take the announcers course."
Simmons landed her first broadcasting job in new Haven as a reporter for WNTH-TV in 1973.
A year later she moved to WBAL-TV in Baltimore and came to WRC-TV in D.C. in Sept. 1976.
A tall, light-complexioned handsome woman with smiling eyes, Simmons has a slight turned-up nose, and a throaty laugh.
A long-time TV viewer admires Simmons and never misses here news show described here as "A very natural person on the screen, with no affectations, doesn't talk down to people and she blends in with the crowd."
When Simmons was asked about blending she said, "I get a kick out of people on elevators. I'm standing there and someone gets on, glances at me, turns away, and then turns to take another look.
"I nod my head and we both get a good laugh."
Simmons thinks age is a problem for women on TV.
"When I was in my late 20s I came down to D.C. for a tryout with Channel 7 and set my age back five years.
"I was told by some executive, 'you're not mature looking enough, you're too cutesy.'"
Worrying about her youthful looks Simmons began telling the truth about her age, but only for awhile.
"Women and careers are washed up on camera when they hit 40, all I say now is that I'm over 30," she said.
She was born at St. Vincent's hospital in Greenwich Village, her mother was white and her father John Simmons, the popular and well traveled black jazz player.
"He was out on the road somewhere when I was born," Simmons said, "so my mother told the hospital that he was a sailor."
Simmons lived with her parents on Gay Street in the Village until it was time for first grade. She then was shipped off to Los Angeles for a year to live with her paternal grandmother.
"I returned to New York and lived with mom until the sixth grade.
"My parents later divorced and my mother married a white millionaire and I went off to a progressive boarding school in Bucks Grove, Pa. until my junior year in high school."
She laughed and said, "The millionaire, he wanted me to go to school in Europe. I think he wanted to hide me."
Simmons returned to New York City to attend Julia Richman, High School, an all girls public school that is now coed.
"I never went to college," Simmons said, "I always thought there would be some kind of school for whatever I wanted to do."
In talking about her father, Simmons said he played with a lot of big bands, Louis Armstrong, Errol Garner.
"He backed up Billie Holiday, she loved my father," Simmons added. "She was crazy about him and didn't like the idea that he was married to a white woman."
The neighborhoods Simmons lived in with her parents were poor and rundown.She said, however, she never felt poor, "Because I knew my father was a celebrity."
In a more somber note Simmons was reminded that her father "never saw me on TV. He lived on the West Coast and used to call me all hours getting the time confused.
"He died last September. I think the L.A. air knocked him down," she said.
Simons has two black sisters from her father's second marriage but she said she never sees them.
Still single, Simmons is wary of marriage. She feels marriage isn't very important, but having a good relationship is.
It has not taken long for Simmons to reach big-time television and she is a little nervous about the move. "I have always been trying to make people like me, I'm petrified that people won't like me," she said.
Her worry might be unnecessary. The farewell party on her last night at WRC was well attended.
She was given a leather pocketbook to carry all the money she will make in New York.
And a microphone rip cord so that she could cut herself off.
The gift came after a broadcast a few weeks back when, thinking she was off the air, she said, "I can't pronounce those damn Iranian names."
She shouldn't worry about being liked: officials at WRC-TV said that on the night she announcd she was leaving they had to put on extra telephone operators to handle the flow of calls that came in.
WRC officials also said they are having trouble handling the mail that is still pouring in asking her not to leave.