Back in April, 2002, Carl and I purchased one of those American Express Platinum Card “By Invitation Only” dinner events. We flew to New York City to spend the evening with Walter Cronkite.
Afterwards, I wrote some notes (below) as a memory from the very intimate dinner gathering.
As the entire world mourns the loss of this television pioneer, called “The Most Trusted Man in America,” that evening will always be an endearing memory.
President & CEO
Notes from NYC dinner with Betsy and Walter Cronkite (WC) on April 9, 2002 with Mitch Goldstone and Carl Berman.
- In preparing for our evening with the Cronkite’s, we had carefully prepared not say it. We both practiced and practiced, then when the time came, we both did it anyway; our first words to him were … “we watched you on TV as a little kids.” Oops.
- We began by first greeting Betsy Cronkite who was most approachable; she mentioned that everyone always first greets and treasures the company of her famous, former CBS News anchor, husband and forgets about her. WC noticed our attention towards her, smiled and we won him over.
- Great conversation. We even turned it into a sales pitch. He explained that had a digital camera, enjoyed uploading his images to his personal computer, but made prints at home with his home color printer. Imagine “Uncle Walter” making his own prints?
- We informed him that by uploading his images directly to our company, he could receive Kodak-quality photographic prints and returned the next day via FedEx. [Always the entrepreneur pitching, today our business is has metamorphosed into a much larger company].
- To paraphrase the evening’s conversation with WC:
- He loved President Reagan. In the early 1980s, President Reagan was addressing a gathering of teachers. He said that the first civilian to travel aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle will be… a teacher. He had mistakenly remarked that NASA was planning to invite a teacher rather than a journalist to travel into Space. Rather than clarifying the message, NASA politely went with the President’s comments and the rest was history. WC was to have been selected to be aboard that fateful journey.
- WC said the Middle East was reaching a situation as dangerous as was WWII and opined that we are a few feet from a new world war. Left to Israel and the Palestinians, there would be no effective solution. He said that the Palestinians and Israelis will not yield. There is an arrogance to the U.S. mandate on what should be done. Rather, the U.S. should send troops to sanitize and patrol the borders, with the UN troops involvement. The UN was founded to create stability and world peace. We should put our faith in the UN. The UN should enter the conflict with an international peace-keeping force, with troops from all regions, specifically Arab nations. We’re all in this together and the U.S. should have political courage.
- After a lengthy discussion on the Middle East, he turned to our waiter and said: “that has taken so much out of me, I’ll have a double.”
- The future will bring populations to distant planets and one day we will have space cities on the Moon. Five hundred years from now, the most important date will be Americans’ landing on the moon; much like how today we celebrate the discovery of America. WC said that future civilizations will laugh as they explain that in our day it took four days and a flimsy old rocket ship to bring us to the Moon. WC thinks of himself as the world’s greatest time traveler.
- I asked what person he would have most liked to have interviewed. WC: Adolph Hitler.
- Although he was hard-of-hearing, he was remarkably friendly and full of humor and stories. When we shared with him from where we reside, he remembered Irvine, Calif. from a profile he did over 30 years-ago when the Boy Scouts of America held a national Jamboree in Irvine and the only thing around, he recollected, were rattle snakes. Irvine today is a modern high-tech residential and business metropolis. [ScanMyPhotos.com is located on Jamboree Parkway, named after that scouting event].