Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I spent Sunday evenings with a gnome.

Journalists and commentators offered in-depth stories and current events Sunday nights on the CBS program 60 Minutes. More often than not, the most thought-provoking segment was the last few minute when Andy Rooney, my quotable gnome, would describe something of mundane familiarity with his unique and unexpected interpretation - things like groceries, curling, bridges, cotton in pill bottles and English language. Looking a bit weather-beaten amongst his stacks of papers and books, he was persuasive without lecturing. Peering out from beneath big bushy white eyebrows, he voiced his view of things and people in serious, informative, amusing and thought provoking word images.

Andy Rooney said, "I'm going to work until I die" - and so he did. His last television segment aired October 2, 2011. He died one month later.

Rooney left behind a lifetime of writings, stories, essays and quotable comments on as many subjects. He was a writer for The Stars & Stripes during WWII. He wrote an impressive list of books, including The Story of the Stars & Stripes. He sold the film rights to MGM and wrote the screenplay. While it never became a movie, Andy made enough money to freelance and establish his writing credentials for several years after the war.

He earned an impressive list of notable awards. Andy had met Ernie Pyle and, years later, received the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award. He wrote and performed 1,097 essays for 60 Minutes - and he won an Emmy.

Privately, Andy was married 60-plus years and has four children. I couldn't help but note he had just one sister - whose name was Nancy.... He refused to sign autographs because 'someone recognizes my face from television.' Book signings were acceptable autograph times.

Though Rooney has been called Irish American, he once said, "I'm proud of my Irish heritage, but I'm not Irish. I'm not even Irish-American. I'm American. Period." @ wikipedia.

On writing, Rooney said, "I don't pick subjects as much as they pick me."

On words, he said, "vegetarian - that's an old Indian word meaning lousy hunter."

On language, Andy said, "Obsenities... I think a lot of dumb people do it because they can't think of what they want to say and they're frustrated. A lot of smart people do it to pretend they aren't very smart - want to be just one of the boys."

I have a particular fascination for quotations and there's a long list of Andy Rooney quotes on http://www.brainquote.com/. I enjoy biographies, long or short, and wikipedia.org has a 6-page summary of his life.

Andy Rooney has always reminded me of a gnome. He was my favorite gnome. Andy wasn't the most handsome lad in the garden, the tallest, neatest nor smartest, yet - perhaps he was....
Certainly, everyone benefitted while having a witty gnome to share Sunday evening with.

No comments:

Post a Comment