Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Walter Cronkite

Hi,

It's been a while since I posted anything. Basically I'm swamped and working hard on my Bluegrass Lyrics page: http://bluegrassmessengers.com.temp.realssl.com/bluegrass-lyrics.aspx

Walter Cronkite passed away on July 17, 2009 in New York City. I was watching CNN today and saw Winton Marsales playing some jazz at the memorial ceremony, then President Obama.

I played for Cronkite and his family back in the 1980's. Walter Cronkite's sailboat, which in 1986 he named Wyntje, was a 48 foot, 50,000 pound, custom built ketch. The ketch was built to Cronkite's specifications, and he enjoyed it for eleven years. Cronkite would sail up and down the the east coast in his sailboat.

When I was in Beaufort, SC in the mid 1980s, I played classical/pop music on a classical guitar every Sat. night at the John Cross Tavern on Bay St. for the dinner crowd. One Saturday, the owner, Harry Chikades, came upstairs and announced, "Walter Cronkite is coming upstairs to eat." Harry rushed around preparing the staff and waiters/waitresses. He came over to me while I was playing and whispered,"Don't do anything to upset him, just play quiet."

I wasn't worried-- but Harry sure was. Walter Cronkite came in with his wife, son and two other people. They were casually dressed after a day of sailing. I was sitting about 12 feet away from their table and clearly Walter was interested in music. They ordered and listened. Walter's son requested a number then Walter asked me if I played Malaguena.

I said, "Sure," and ripped through my flamenco arrangement. Suddenly, his son hopped up on a chair and did some form of dance while clapping his hands. Harry came rushing out and saw that the commotion was made by Cronkite and his party. He smiled embarrassed and disappeared to the kitchen.

Later, as I was leaving, I went over to Walter and got him to write a note to my grandmother, since I knew she was a big fan. He wrote the note and I gave it to her- she was impressed. My grandmother Matteson was hard to impress, she'd been a professional pianist and performer and had met a number of famous people in her life.

She died about 8 years later and now- Walter's gone.

Richard

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