Walter Cronkite Meets Denzel Washington Redux

The Best Of The Zola System

It was the busiest Tuesday of the year at the Park Avenue Cafe.We did 220 lunches and were expecting 500 people for dinner.  I was working an open to close double.

4:30pm.I was trying to clean and re-set the bar for dinner service. Due to the ferocity of the lunch service period, I was way behind and wondered if I was going to be able to get the joint ready for dinner.  The last thing I needed was a high profile guest to walk in the door, the kind who draws a lot of attention from the other guests.Once again, Murphy was proved to be an optimist; in walked Denzel Washington with his wife and four kids

“Fuck,” I said under my breath.

They had no reservation and were happy to wait patiently while we set a table for six.  No one seemed to notice Washington as they walked out into the December afternoon.  The exception was Walter Cronkite who was sitting in the dining room with New York Post Gossip Columnist Cindy Adams.Cronkite heard Denzel was in the restaurant and told the hostess he wanted to meet the actor.

I passed to word to the Washington’s that Walter Cronkite would like to say hello before he left.Pauletta Washington started to fix her husband.She licked her fingers, pushing her Denzel’s hair back and wiping any smudges from his cheeks.  “Cronkite wants to meet you,” she told him excitedly.  When he was finally primped to his wife specifications, Denzel walked over to the host stand and met the slightly stooped Walter Cronkite.

“Young man, you are quite an actor,” I remember the Cronkite saying.

“Thank you very much sir,” Denzel replied in awe of the former CBS Anchor.

After he and Cindy Adams left, Washington asked his kids if they knew anything about Walter Cronkite.They all shook their heads.“Alex,” he said, “who was that man.”

“That was Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America,” I replied.

“It looks like we’re going to have a long talk over dinner,” Denzel said to Pauletta.  She nodded.  The four kids rolled their eyes, the same way I did when my father started telling me about his time spent in Soviet Russia.  It seemed they had to sit through their father’s lectures on American history frequently.

An hour and a half later, 60 Minutes Mike Wallace walked in and sat in front of me.

“What is it with you CBS guys,” I teased him.  “I had Walter Cronkite in here a couple of hours ago.”

He slammed his right hand against the bar.“That fucking Cronkite.  He’s been riding my coattails for 60 years,” Wallace said with a smile.

Last Friday, I told Agustin, an Albanian born captain, about Walter Cronkite after his death was announced.He had no clue who the man was or why he was called the most respected man in America.  “Are there any respected men in America,” he asked.

Not anymore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Every Friday, get 2 for 1 movie tickets when you use your Visa Signature card.

Recent Comments