Isay’s people: survivors holding on with dignity

In the long ago 1950s, a friend of mine, the gifted writer Marya Mannes, composed short features for a lively magazine called The Reporter. Each was a fictional profile of some recognizable personality, a “type” that most of us encounter in life’s daily round: a nervous business executive, the owner-manager of a small restaurant, a bag lady picking her way daintily through the damp contents of a public trash basket. The column was called “Any Resemblance?” and it persuaded most readers that they, along with Ms. Mannes, were splendidly perceptive. I often think of these descriptions when listening to David Isay’s radio documentaries, most of them concerning mildly eccentric persons from, as he says, “the margins of society.”