August 21, 2009
We know that the Grateful Dead circle encompasses a great variety of close attachments and fond acquaintances (think Al and Tipper Gore, Bill Walton and Phil Jackson, Patrick Leahy and Nancy Pelosi.) But somehow one of the sweetest friendships seems to have been between Mickey Hart and Walter Cronkite. Since Cronkite's death several very intimate stories have been told about their 22 years of being "dear, dear friends." Mickey tells the story in Leah Garchik's San Francisco Chronicle column of July 31 about Walter playing drums at his place. "And I invited him to see the Grateful Dead, and we kind of fell in love around all those exciting things. It was such a trust; he was such a treasure." Cronkite apparently "loved marching bands, Sousa and Dixieland, and he loved the Grateful Dead."
Sometimes one learns about life from memorial tributes. In reading Joseph O'Connor's recounting of the life and kindness of Pultizer Prize winner Frank McCourt in the Irish Sunday Independent of July 26th, the following is revealed. McCourt, a fabulous and generous storyteller, had at one stage of his life followed the Grateful Dead mixing with the "hippies and beatniks" whom he found "beautiful and strange." He thought he had the makings of a novel.