Thursday, November 09, 2006

Remembering Ed Bradley

The world lost a truely humane and gentle man Thursday. I met Mr. Bradley early in my professional television career while working at the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Bradley was on assignment and, as was common back then, set up shop at the station to edit, voice and feed his story to the network. I don't recall what the story was about, or whether it was for "60 Minutes" or the "CBS Evening News." But I do remember Mr. Bradley.

Several network reporters, photographers, producers and editors came through the station during my years there. All were decent, but most didn't want to talk with a 20-something local newsie. Unless it was to ask directions to the bathroom. Or to demand I make coffee for them. Yes, demand. The few who did that did not ask for coffee. They demanded it and expected it yesterday. I enjoyed bringing coffee to those who didn't ask. I usually forgot to tell those who demanded when the coffee was ready.

Mr. Bradley was different. While waiting to do whatever he was going to do, he walked over to my desk and asked my name. I have no idea why. He pulled up a chair and sat down to chat with me. Wanted to know how I liked Iowa. Wanted to know things about Iowa that most people overlooked. He seemed to enjoy hearing about my growing up in a small farming community. I think that might have been because he grew up in Philadelphia.

Mr. Bradley was genuinely amazed that I'd never been to the east coast; that I'd never been east of Chicago, or west of Wyoming, or south of Missouri. He wanted to know about the college I attended and the town I in which I grew up. I remember telling him that only one black family lived in our small community and that I'd never attended school with a non-white person until I went to college.

Being star struck and young (and a bit ego-centric) I didn't ask about Mr. Bradley. I didn't even think to ask him what he thought of Iowa, or if he enjoyed traveling for CBS. I regret not asking him about his Vietnam experience.

Instead, I talked about me because this gentle, kind, curious man asked me to. And then Mr. Bradley had to go back to work, and I had to go out to shoot a fire. I didn't get to thank Mr. Bradley. I doubt he remembered me. And I'm OK with that.

But the world is short one truly decent man. And that makes me sad. Thank you, Mr. Bradley. Rest in peace.