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The recent passing of Peter Jennings has called to mind one of my rare brushes with history. Back in 1992 I was a student at the University of Houston when I heard word through the political science department that some coordinator was looking for insurable students (i.e., those over 25 years of age) to work as drivers for members of the press corps covering the Republican Convention in the Astrodome. I stepped up and got a gig as a driver for U.S. News and World Report. It was my duty to shuttle the journalists between the Astrohall press “tent” and their hotels or whatever off-site events they wished to cover. The week for me alternated between the tedium of sitting around waiting and the excitement of meeting someone famous and/or powerful. I got to shake a lot of well-known hands (Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, and more); I got to have an extended conversation with Michael Barone at a reception to which I had driven him; I had an amusing exchange with a woman circulating a press release from Utah Republicans for Choice (“Are you both here?” I asked); and the other drivers and I would trade celebrity sightings.
One of these last is of particular note this week. When we weren’t needed, we drivers were allowed temporary floor passes to the convention. On one such occasion, I stopped at a men’s room on my way to the Dome. There I found Peter Jennings, adjusting his necktie in a mirror. I stopped and remarked, “My mother watches you regularly: I’ll have to tell her that I saw you.” Unperturbed, he turned and coolly answered, “You’re not going to tell her where, are you?”
I denied that I would, but of course I did. Mom really liked his neckties.p>Though his broadcasts could often raise my otherwise quiescent blood pressure, I’ll raise a glass of something Canadian over ice in his honor nonetheless. That crown-shaped bottle over there will do nicely. R.I.P. br> — Stephen Foulard
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