DATELINE AMERICA by Charles Kuralt


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Laconic beefs and hurrahs. Kuralt ordinarily delivers these three-minute essays over CBS radio from Anywhere, U.S.A., and a nice conversational twang they have. Sometimes he's wondering whatever-happened-to collar buttons or screwball diners or the rumpled suit; sometimes he's collecting old football cheers or twister stories; sometimes--several times--he's comparing computer agriculture that doesn't pay to the North Carolina homestead of his Depression childhood that fed a family. (A little problem of apples and pears there, or golden grain and peanuts.) Now and again he makes a pilgrimage to Tuskegee, Alabama, or Springfield, Illinois, or Ellis Island. He also takes a gander, less benignly, at Sun City, Arizona, home of hyperactive retirees. And even a fellow who likes trucks and truckers might reasonably bridle at today's tailgating bullies. Trouble is, these are passing thoughts that lose in the reading just that off-the-cuff flavor they have in the hearing. Worse, they've been plastered with pictures, of all things (after Kuralt successfully by-passed TV!). We've seen only a few of the 80 photos (by Michael Chester) announced, but the Sun City oldsters appear to be playing shuffleboard, while Kuralt is talking about the crafts-and-tennis culture. And what's going to illustrate his plaint about the corruption of Charles into Charlie (Mr. Charlie, good-time Charlie--or Charles Schulz's Charlie Brown), is anybody's guess. Essentially, of course, they're all abstractions--the Sun City scramble included--put into a graphic vernacular. Which is why this belongs not with the glut of all-American commemorations but on the tiny shelf of adept radio writing.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1979
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich