The great writer and newsman Charles Kuralt died ten days ago due to complications from Lupus. He was 62. I’ve been struggling to find an appropriate way to honor Kuralt and to do my little bit to fill the giant hole he leaves in the essence of all of us whether we know we’ve been made emptier by his passing or not.
Charles Kuralt’s Legacy
As a young lad growing up in the heartland of Lincoln, Nebraska, one of the fruits of the week was to awaken early on Sunday mornings to watch Charles Kuralt on CBS’s Sunday Morning as he brought us the beautiful bounty of the truth of plain folks’ lives beyond the byways and backroads of America.
There is melancholy in the wind and sorrow in the grass. – Charles Kuralt
I connected with that gravelly voice, pudgy face and balding head not because he looked like most of my neighbors and friends — I felt at one with Kuralt because of his vision into the simple, undiscovered pleasures of life that many of us miss without a nudge or a prod in a succinct direction. Kuralt make his vision universally palpable because he knew how to write a perfect sentence. His words weren’t fancy. His words didn’t profess to be pendantic. His thoughts were soft-spoken, plain and they hit you like a sledge hammer between the eyes when strung together into paragraphs becoming pealing pearls of Kuralt wisdom.
I comforted myself with the thought that if you’re not going to cover the big stories, at least you can travel around the country in an old bus, and maybe get al feeling for the country that you might miss if you were forever covering important stuff. Going slow, feeling the seasons change — CBS didn’t even know where I was; they didn’t care where I was. But I think maybe I did get a feeling for the country that I might have missed if I were forever covering only the big stories. – Charles Kuralt
I learned from listening to Charles Kuralt that words can weild a might heartier than any sword. Words can wound. Sentences can sting. A good story, unwound well, is to die for.
Journalism, by its nature probably, is crisis-ridden. And the country, by its nature, really is not. Now I don’t mean, of course, that we in journalism should not tell the story of the drug arrests and the tuition rise and all the other bad news. That’s what we’re there for. This kind of country cannot survive unless our citizens know about every bad thing that goes on. But I wonder whether the historians, whose job will be to sift through all the refuse we reporters deposit on the pile of history, might not notice some articles of value we did not notice at the time. – Charles Kuralt
Responsibility of Character
There is, however, a responsibility of character due when a writer’s easy effervescence can cut an unwitting foe in two. The power of words that can kill must be legislated sparingly, for not all ignorance or stupidity must be punished or corrected — sometimes we find shades of our forgotten selves in the plain grace of innocent children and naive adults.
Go Inside Honors Kuralt in Along The Backroads
In an attempt to honor and cajole the work that Charles Kuralt started with On The Road, I have decided to start a new section here in Go Inside Magazine entitled: Along The Backroads. This new section will continue Kuralt’s love of the intimate undiscovered trinkets and intricacies that make up the marvelous fabric of the backroads on which our speckled lives spin.
Watch for articles in a sub-section of Along The Backroads entitled Beyond Nebraska from me concerning Lincoln After Seven Years, Return to Happy Jack Mountain, The Loup Valley Wranglers, In Celebration of Melancholy and my premier article: The Good Life.
Marshall Jamison’s exquisite series, Hero Worship, moves from our Commentary section and smack-dab home where it belongs in Along The Backroads.
I hope other Go Inside writers will join us with their own discovered jewels of who and what they are and I invite you to share your Backroads remembrances here, too. Just click on my hotlinked name at the head of this article to shoot me an idea.
If, in the course of reading Along The Backroads, you are touched in a new way, don’t think of Go Inside Magazine — we ask you to think instead of our inspiration for such a touching: Charles Kuralt.