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Author Ralph Grizzle

About The Author | Ralph Grizzle

Commissioned by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to conduct a series of oral histories with Charles Kuralt's friends, family and colleagues, Ralph Grizzle is also author of Charles Kuralt's People. A journalism graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Ralph lives in Asheville with his wife and two children.

I MET CHARLES KURALT IN LISBON, PORTUGAL, in the winter of 1994. We were attending the American Society of Travel Agents' Annual World Congress. Kuralt was the keynote speaker, I was a reporter covering his speech. Afterward, I was able to pull him aside and discuss with him his favorite topic: travel. During our talk, I told him that in 1980, I had ridden a bicycle across America. Always the reporter, Kuralt began to interview me, asking me about the trip and expressing admiration for my having seen America at, what he felt, was just the right pace. Of course, Kuralt preferred to travel America's backroads, slowly and serendiptiously, realizing that travel is often what comes between point A and point B.

"It was hard for me in the beginning to get over the perfectly understandable idea that you had to have a destination in mind," Kuralt said to me. "We always had the idea [during the On The Road series] of a story that we were headed toward, but after awhile it finally got through to us that we might run into something more interesting along the way. So we never made precise appointments. We'd call and say, Are you going to be home for the next week or two?"

Following our conversation, I returned to the pressroom to write about my experience with Kuralt. In the piece, "Exploring Roads Less Traveled," I wrote how Kuralt extolled the virtue of "permitting yourself to be detoured." He talked about how "we travel too fast characteristically" and that during his own travels he had to remind himself "five times a day that this was supposed to be fun."

I suggested that his style of travel was the poetic metaphor for Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," and there's no question that Charles Kuralt veered from the beaten track, opting to take the road others had not, only to discover the heart and soul of this country. Perhaps more than any other traveler, Kuralt was able to extract the essence of the place that he visited, and he did it by slowing down.

"I understand that people want to have as many experiences as they can crowd into whatever time," Kuralt said. "It's the condensation of time—we have so little of it. But I think a lot of successful travel is based on the attitude the traveler brings to it, a kind of, 'Well, let's wait and see what happens today,' attitude. Mark Twain had the right idea in his book Roughing It, which was to go slow, rejoice in the small details and be amazed by life."

Charles Kuralt had a wonderful ability to see the good in people and in places. It was that kind of attitude that always made him a welcome visitor. "A lot of reporters can't go back to the towns where they did a story," Kuralt told me thoughtfully. "I never did that kind of story."

See related story in UNC's The Daily Tar Heel.


USA Today Editorial
Forgiving Charles Kuralt

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Nobel Peace Prize
| Remembering | Sir Charles
| A Tribute | CBS Transcripts |
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David Brinkley on Charles Kuralt
Kuralt's Remarks At Hugh & Julia Morton's 50th Wedding Anniversary

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Charles Kuralt's People

An intellectually stimulating collection of insightful and occasionally poignant commentaries, Charles Kuralt's People is very highly recommended reading for students of the human condition in general, and legions of Charles Kuralt fans in particular. — Midwest Book Review Click for more info.

Hard cover, 386 pages, $25.95 plus $3.95 Priority Mail shipping. (NC residents must add 6 percent sales tax.)

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