Monday, May 23, 2011

The Parallels With Byron Pitts of '60 Minutes'

Byron Pitts, holding his prized sweet tea, chats with some fans.
Bob and Bonny Lee chat with wounded Lynn Meyer (she hurt it fly fishing).
Sizeable crowd settles in.
WFIR's Jim Kent introduces Pitts (left). FRONT was a sponsor.
Pitts talks from the heart.
Pitts signs his new book.
As CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts spoke at the Jefferson Center earlier tonight, a sense of parallel history began to take shape for me. Pitts, whom you probably know from "60 Minutes," where he is a regular, has a new memoir, Step Out on Nothing, detailing his life growing up poor in Baltimore and having to face and conquer some very real devils.

We share some of them. We both stuttered for a time. We're both long-time journalists, something nobody would have expected when we were growing up. We were functional illiterates for far longer than you might expect, flunked out (me) or nearly flunked out (him) of college (including failing English); had great mentors; played football pretty well; wrote a memoir with stories that aren't pretty; had strong mothers who were there in some tough times. (I will mention that though we've both written memoirs, the parallel ends. His sold.)

I liked listening to him because he didn't equivocate on dealing with the difficulties: he talked bluntly and directly about what it took and how it began to work.

 The event was the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Business Forum and it was a good one.

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