And That's the Way It Is: No Talking While Walter Cronkite Is On

Article excerpt

Byline: Write on by Peggy Remm For The Register-Guard

WHEN I was growing up, my family always had dinner together sitting around the table. Everyone had their own spot, and you used the same spot for every meal.

I sat to my dad's right, and on his other side was Walter Cronkite. Mom and my three older sisters filled out the rest of the table.

I'm not sure why, but dinner was always put on the table at the beginning of the evening newscast. Dad had a clear view of the TV from where he sat at the table. While Mom had several rules about good manners at the table, Dad had one rule: "No talking while Walter is talking."

This rule was strictly enforced. Whatever you had to talk about, it had to wait until Walter Cronkite was done talking. These were the days when President Kennedy was shot, the Vietnam War was on, a man walked on the moon, there were riots in Watts and Watergate was being revealed. Dad followed it all very closely.

Between my three sisters and myself, I was consistently the only one to blurt something out when Walter was talking. When this would happen, Dad would just say my name, "Peggy," and then he would point to the TV and say, "Walter." Once again, I had been reminded that there is no talking while Walter is talking.

You may think that dinnertime was not fun in this atmosphere, but once Walter was done talking, we could talk all we wanted, sometimes staying at the table long after we were finished eating - just sharing, laughing and listening to each other. This climate also produced four daughters who were always well informed on current events, and we were expected to have a defendable opinion.

My dad loved the news. He followed the news not only through television and radio, but with newspapers and magazines as well. His habit of following the news continued throughout his lifetime. He subscribed to two daily newspapers and, of course, his beloved Newsweek magazine, which he faithfully read cover to cover. Every day started and finished with the local news broadcast on TV. …