Saturday, July 18, 2009

Uncle Walter

I miss Walter Cronkite. When the first warning that he was seriously ill came across the Associated Press wire a couple of weeks ago, I thought his time on earth was short enough to touch. It was. And I wish I had been wrong.

I grew up with Walter Cronkite on the evening news. The day wasn't complete without him telling us what had happened. He reported THE NEWS. With two outstanding exceptions, he was never part of the story. An old wire service reporter, he knew how to "write tight," edit to get to the heart of the story, and present the story because it was important in and of itself.

We know of the two moments when he was part of the story: wiping tears away when he reported President Kennedy's assassination on November 22 and when he was so proud when John Glenn took his "one giant step for mankind."

I was ambused last night in Market Square in Roanoke by a young TV reporter from Channel 7 who couldn't possibly have seen him live. What she missed! She asked a couple of questions - needed a gray-haired woman's point of view. I told her.

I had the pleasure of meeting him several times when I worked in NYC. A funny man who told the bluest of jokes, but only if he asked if you would be uncomfortable first. I wasn't and I heard plenty of those jokes.

Uncle Walter, now you have joined your lovely Betsy. Sail away, dear man. We miss you more than you can imagine.