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Walter Cronkite in conversation with Gertrude Stein

At 18, the future anchorman writes of the novelist’s comfortable shoes, close-cropped hair and of the rumours of a war that would later launch his career


 

In the wake of his death, Walter Cronkite’s old student newspaper at the University of Texas in Austin, the Daily Texan, unearths a 1935 profile that an 18-year-old cub Cronkite bashed out after an interview with avant-garde American novelist Gertrude Stein. “Dressed in a mannish blouse, a tweed skirt, a peculiar but attractive vest affair, and comfortable looking shoes, Miss Stein appeared much more of the woman than do the pictures that currently circulate,” Cronkite writes. The piece, in its crispness and attention to detail, is as much a portrait of a budding reporter as it is of Stein, the aphoristic genius who’d beguiled the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and—with her that evening as always—Alice B. Toklas, she of the cannabis brownies. “Miss Alice B. Toklas, Miss Stein’s traveling companion whose title is not ‘secretary,’ according to the author, was present,” writes the young Cronkite with a deft touch that belies his years. “Miss Stein attributed the depression to the psychology of the people. ‘The depression is more moral than actual,’ she observed. ‘No longer the people think they are depressed, the depression is over.'” And what, Cronkite asks, of the rumours of war from Europe? “Before I left, those who know in France didn’t believe that there would be a war,’ she answered. “But then war is just like anything else. When people get tired of peace they will have war and when they get tired of war they will have peace. Don’t you, when you have been good for a long time, want to be bad?”

The Daily Texan


 
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