RIP Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite was a wretched man. His face held a permanent sneer, he was always cranky,and hated all things Damron. Especially our cow, Bess, who wasn't particularly special except she had the wandering tendencies of Huckleberry Finn. Yes, with a house full of book junkies, the most creative name we could come up with for our cow was the quintessential Bess. Incidentally, we also named our dog Sandy, yeah we definitely didn't get that one off of Annie. Sigh. Back to that awful, awful neighbor of ours. The only thing good about him was his amazingly sweet wife, who I only knew as Mrs. Cronkite, probably because her husband's morose personality (at least when we were around) overshadowed her. He was as nasty as she was sweet, as mean as Hilary Clinton is un-photogenic.
Walter Cronkite hated us that seemed certain. Our adventurous cow wasn't quite content with the lot she'd been given and was constantly searching for peace, love and the American Way as it seemed, and she found it in Cronkite's field. He'd call us in that almost cartoon-ish grumpy-old-man voice of his and tell us if we let our cow wander on to his land one more time, he had a loaded shotgun that would make sure it didn't happen again. Not that we dearly loved the cow, but we certainly didn't want her meeting her end at the hands of Cronkite. And what was he so worried about his land anyway? As far as I saw it, it was just fields, it wasn't like he did anything with them. Bess, was just providing a little free field grooming, that's all.
It took me until college to realize that the man I had hated and only met under dire cow-threatening circumstances was not the same Walter Cronkite the rest of the world knew. Finally it made sense why so many people knew the name of an obscure old man who lived on Albion Road in the middle of a small town in Maine. Well, the more famous of the Walter Cronkites died last week and his legacy got me thinking about the crotchety old man I knew, who no doubt is also dead. I have no idea who he was except the man who hated our cow (and us by association). He had gray hair, a shot gun and an unusually sweet wife. The only contact I had with him was when we would come to collect our wayward bovine and when we would bring him banana bread when we went caroling at Christmas time (it sounds like something straight out of Currier and Ives, but I swear we did it. We were one of those weird families that gathered round the piano and sang together -no one bothered to tell us it was 1985 not 1935. We may or may not have even pulled all the said banana bread on a Radio Flyer sleigh. No joke).
I wonder what he did for a living, that obscure Walter Cronkite, and whether he really did hate us as much as I remember? Was he really a sweet man? A proud grandpa? A doting husband? Or just as mean and crotchety as we perceived him? I'll never know. I probably knew him as well as I do the more famous man that bears his name. He probably made someone happy, and I do hope that someone mourned his death. So both Walter Cronkites, but most especially to the one with the big pasture and the shotgun, I say; Rest in peace, I'm sorry for not learning more about you when you were alive, may cows wander into your field only if you want them to.