Thursday, July 23, 2009
Good Night, Walter Cronkite
Families tell stories. Stories when the cousins come to town. Stories saved for after the Thanksgiving turkey has been demolished. Stories that seem as familiar as Dad’s old windbreaker hanging in the front hall closet.
One of my family stories involves me and Walter Cronkite. I’ve always loved the news. News hour, the CBS news specifically, was sacrosanct in my house growing up. Walter Cronkite gave voice to that news and to my childhood. It is his voice, in addition to those of my parents that I remember most. If the news was on, we whispered if we spoke at all; mostly we listened. My parents say that I was an easy toddler. A story they’ve often told me about my growing up was about when I began to put myself to bed. I was maybe 2, if that.
Walter Cronkite was the nightly anchor; Dad a faithful viewer. I would sit and listen or play in the family room while my parents watched. My brother hadn’t been born yet. From the late sixties, I remember only the voice and the black and white T.V. One night according to Mom and Dad, at Cronkite’s nightly “Good night” sign off, I stood up, looked at Mom and Dad and said “Good night!” and went to bed. I was 2. I god blessed Walter “Concrete” every night in my elementary school prayers. His “good night” was it for me. His voice sent me to bed each night. What a figure he was to me in my childhood and later as part of 60 Minutes.
I have wanted to write him a letter since I was in high school. I am deeply sorry that I never did. Though I am sure, I am one of millions of fans, I will forever remember him and his voice. Good night and God Bless, Mr. Cronkite.