Walter Cronkite and “Go, Baby, Go!”

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite was the news broadcaster of choice when I was a kid.  Really, there was no choice, because it was no competition.  Cronkite had all of the qualities that you would want in a television anchorman.  He was avuncular, trustworthy, deep-voiced, and unflappable.  Even bad news — and it seemed like there was a lot of that during the ’60s and ’70s — was a bit more palatable when you heard it from the mouth of Walter Cronkite.

Cronkite ruled during an era when the way people got their news started to transition from newspapers to television, and he was hugely popular.  When it was time for the CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite, people would finish their dinner and watch a half hour of news, knowing that it would close with Cronkite saying “and that’s the way it was.”  He had enormous credibility and seemed like a living, walking barometer of American public opinion.  Some historians, for example, trace the change in American public opinion about the Vietnam War to Cronkite’s personal change of opinion about the value of continuing that conflict.

As important as Cronkite was to calming jangled nerves during the Cuban Missile Crisis, in the aftermath of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, the Watts riots, or the 1968 Democratic convention, I remember him best for another role he played.  When I was young, the “space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed enormously important.  If there was a rocket launch during school hours, we all would troop into the auditorium and watch to see whether America could successfully take the next step toward reaching the Moon.  Cronkite anchored all of the rocket launches and coverage of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo manned space activities.  He seemed to be an enthusiastic supporter of our space exploration efforts who enjoyed the science and wonder of the effort.

I remember him rooting the rockets along, urging “Go, Baby, Go!”   I’m not sure an anchorperson would say such a thing in this more jaded era, but during the early 1960s it was a more innocent time, and Walter Cronkite helped to capture it.

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400th Post — Factoids

This is the 400th post on the Webner House blog, where the first post appeared on February 1, 2009.  Since that time our little blog has received 4,230 views, with 263 views coming on our busiest day, May 25, 2009, and a total of 130 comments.  Recently we’ve passed a few other milestones.  We’ve seen our first posts from UJ, as well as our first individual post to get more than 100 views — R.I.P., Grasshopper.  However, Richard’s post American Artists, British Bands gets multiple hits every day and seems likely to be our new number 1 post soon.  Other popular recent posts include other selections from the Best American Bands series, including the posts on Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Steve Miller, and Nine Inch Nails and on Steely Dan.  Another popular topic has been crappy Ford cars of the 1970s, addressed in the post Real Lemons.

Buzz Aldrin Votes For Mars

In view of some of the space-oriented posts on the blog lately, I thought it fitting to link to this article by Buzz Aldrin. Although Aldrin was the second man to walk on the Moon, he argues that the United States should really set its sights on Mars. Space flight to Mars would be a much more herculean undertaking than resuming missions to the Moon, but it may be that with greater risk comes greater reward.