Nancy Reagan is sure to be pleased that her beloved Ronnie is remembered as “the great communicator.” He had that genial cadence and warm voice that enlivened audiences from the time he announced General Electric radio programs. A friend who played in the band with the program told me, “He would come out with that script and when he began to read, the place just came alive.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was another great communicator, with his relaxed, gentle voice as he spoke to radio audiences who were having very rough times.
The intelligence of what Richard Nixon had to say was lost with his boring delivery as he tried to “make it perfectly clear.”
I was not prepared to meet a speaker whose words were wise but whose purposeful delivery scared the bejabbers out of listeners. For the first and only time in my life, I was breathless and my knees knocked when a friend said, “Helen, this is Barry Goldwater.” He looked as if he had stepped off a marble pedestal in Washington, D.C. His presence was staggering.
A political figure I would have liked to meet was Harry Truman. On his desk was a sign that said: “The buck stops here.” He drove Secret Service agents nuts insisting on his morning walk “to talk to the people.” He was a down-to-earth man, even when president.
Truman’s daughter, Margaret, aspired to be an opera singer. She had the horrible experience of making her debut in Carnegie Hall. All the critics were there, of course, and all except one wrote discrete, kindly reviews. The lone candid reviewer was forthright.
No one was getting away with writing about Truman’s daughter like that. He sat down, took out his pen and wrote a letter to the reviewer. It ended up on the front page of the New York Times. “If I ever see you, I will knock your block off.” Now there was a communicator.
Incidentally, Margaret took the reviewer’s hint about her singing and switched to writing murder mysteries. They were all best sellers. Her mystery novels included “Murder at the Capitol,” “Murder at the White House” and other Washington sites. But she never wrote ‘‘Murder at the New York Times.”
Manhattan resident Helen Roser can be contacted at P.0. Box 1814.