Morley Safer's Stories


In that green and golden Wisconsin corn field summer when I was twenty or so, Morley Safer--who died today--would not just tell me stories every Sunday night on 60 Minutes; Morley and Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, Dan Rather and all those giants of journalism would connect me with the rest of the world. Take me far from southern Wisconsin. Without ever having to leave home.

Sunday dinners, summer screen doors slamming, barbeque smoke blanketing three old college rental houses on a corner. All the doors and windows thrown open to life, we'd make giant dinner omelets, TV tuned to 60 Minutes, as Miles Davis talked to Ed Bradley, Dan Rather jumped in on butchers selling bad meat, Mike Wallace nailed some con man to the wall of his back room trailer office and Morley Safer traveled to deserted islands in the Indian Ocean, safaris in Kenya, towering mountain tops in Asia and big old fancy hotels in London. Always taking me someplace different. Always telling a story. Always finding some hidden gem of truth.

Morley Safer had the twinkle in his eye, and prose that sparkled like the starry midwestern sky .

So what happened was that he made me feel a part of every adventure. If that deserted island was sunshine, palm tree paradise, and Morley Safer went there, I went there too. The way he reported, I could feel the sun and taste the ocean. From Wisconsin!

That Wisconsin summer flowed into the cycles of Chicago autumn, winter and spring, and we all went off to build lives. Very different paths, trials and celebrations, trying to make sense of it all. Love came and went till it came for keeps. But there was always that inner twisting to climb up and peer over the horizon to places and people and different ways of connecting with far away lands. Trips that happened every Sunday night when I'd turn on the TV and Morley Safer would tell me a story that mattered.

Like he was waving me in with his hand and saying 'you can come too!'

Morley Safer died today. Pretty much the last of those original 60 Minutes guys. And something inside went just went still and quiet

Till I started thinking about all the places he invited me to visit. All those places I got to see without ever leaving home.

And how his stories live on.

Even now.