The Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! If all goes according to plans, Ray and I will be spending the day at Ohiopyle. We used to go there every July 4th. The last few years, life has gotten in the way, so I hope to revive old traditions today.

But while we’re off enjoying the bike trails, I wanted to mention a sad anniversary. Ten years ago today, one of my favorite writers passed away.

I first became enamored of Charles Kuralt back in his days of doing On the Road segments for CBS Evening News. And I rarely missed CBS Sunday Morning. Years ago, our television died and in a protest of the lousy programming, I refused to buy a new one. For five weeks, we went TV-free. During that time, I only missed one show. CBS Sunday Morning. That was the only reason we bought a new set. Okay, maybe not the ONLY reason, but it was a big one.

I remember lying on a stretcher in the hospital one Sunday morning in 1993, writhing in agony from what turned out to be acute appendicitis. As I lie there waiting to be taken for tests, I vividly recall Charles Kuralt’s voice. The television set perched in the corner of the holding area was tuned to CBS Sunday Morning and for a few minutes I felt soothed.

I love his book CHARLES KURALT’S AMERICA. And I love his voice. So I purchased the book on tape and played it during a very long, arduous drive to New York State back in September of 1997, only two months after he passed. When I got to the part about him planting daffodils, I wept. But that book on tape got me to New York. That, and several bottles of Mountain Dew.

Every now and then, they play one of his old pieces on Sunday Morning. When they do, I run to the TV and sit and try to soak in that exquisite, velvet voice. I feel like I’ve traveled the back roads of America, thanks to him. He had a way of painting a picture with his words.

Maybe someday I’ll travel the path he wrote about in his AMERICA and visit the places he loved and described so vividly. But even if I don’t, I feel as though I’ve already been there.

Thanks, Charles.

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