By Emily Lawson
For The Herald Bulletin
It was 2008 when Rita Rose’s book based on Sandy Allen was published, but the story began some 31 years earlier.
Rose, a former reporter and editor for the Indianapolis Star’s entertainment department, wrote a story on Allen, a Shelbyville resident who was the world’s tallest woman, in 1977 for the newspaper.
Allen was recovering from surgery that removed a tumor on her pituitary gland, the culprit of her excessive growth.
Rose spent three days with Allen. Allen, at 7 feet, 7-and-a-quarter inches towered over Rose, at 5 feet, 4 inches. The two became lifelong friends.
“We just clicked,” said Rose, who writes a thinly fictionalized account of Allen in “World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High.”
“From then on we started hanging out. She was funny. She used to say things like, ‘Well, I could never meet anybody that could put a big enough ring on my finger’ because she wasn’t just tall, she had big hands and feet too. She had a size 22EEE foot.”
“We just really enjoyed each other’s company. I would drive down to Shelbyville, where she was living, and she would come up to my place. We spent Christmas together one year.”
The book, based on Allen’s real-life experiences in high school, stemmed from this very friendship.
Rose will discuss the book at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pendleton Community Library.
“She had told me privately some instances that had happened to her in high school. I was very interested in the fact that she was able to, quote, ‘rise above that,’” Rose said.
“She had already had a million stories done on her about being tall and holding the title, but I wanted to write a little bit more about her as a person,” Rose said.
Rita Rose 'just clicked' with world's tallest woman
By Emily Lawson
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