Saturday, August 13, 2005

Peter Jennings

I'm home, had a wonderful tmie, and will probably post more than anyone wants to read about my Adventures Oversea. But while I was gone, Peter Jennings died, and it makes me sad. Part of the reason Spouse and I had contra dancing at our wedding was because I'd seen Peter Jennings "commentating" a square dance during the Olympics in the '80s, and learned that he had started out calling square dances as a Very Young Jennings. This got me thinking about how much I liked square dancing when I was a kid, and how universal it was and...hey presto, contra dancing at our wedding.

Six or seven years ago, when ABC was putting together The Century, an ambitious multipart precis of the 20th century, they came to Danny's former workplace to get all the sound done. Since there were about nine hundred different versions (History Channel version, ABC version, books on tape version, etc. ad nauseum) Jennings was in the studio a lot, and Spouse worked with him. He found Jennings smart and charming and hardworking. And when Spouse asked him about the square-dance thing, Jennings was delighted to talk about it.

I grew up with Cronkite as the Household God o' News (watching the nightly body count from Vietnam with my mother), but in later years Jennings took over for me--not because he was good looking (I tend to distrust anyone that good looking in a position like that, a prejudice Jennings evidently struggled against for a long time) but because he was smart and didn't seem to take himself too seriously. He did take his work seriously, I thought, and he had a slight quirk to his eyebrow when he was reporting received wisdoms. He was not oracular or folksy or smug; he just seemed to be thinking about what was happening.


Blogger Jonquil said...

Every so often Uncle Walter is on NPR, and I miss his voice fiercely afterward.

The principal thing I remember about Peter Jennings was that he was the only network anchor who held it together September 11th. We flipped channels wildly to find information, but we settled on him.

Welcome back.

2:43 PM  

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