Wednesday, December 5, 2012



The budget officer at CPB was a very able fellow named Joe Widoff.  I respected and admired the quality of his work and his ability to stick to his guns under pressure.

Customarily, when I routed a memo or piece of mail, it was my practice to identify the intended recipient by using his or her three initials.  Thus Admiral (William D.) Houser was “WDH.”  Cal Watson was “CAW,” etc.  One day, I forwarded a piece of mail to Joe Widoff and didn’t know his middle initial and simply wrote “JW.”  Later, I asked Joe what was his middle name and why I was asking.  He replied, “Edward.”  We stared at each other a few seconds while that sunk in. Then he said, “Can you imagine parents doing that to their child?”

I responded, “I take it you never buy monogrammed shirts.”


In the early days of PBS, the director of technical operations was a very pleasant Jewish fellow named Arnold Labaton who had a smile like sunshine.  His manner in dealing with people was kind and patient.  The girls all said he was “precious.”  Everyone loved Arnie.

At a PBS convention reception, a group of us were standing in a circle, drinks in hand and shouting to be heard above the din.  The group included Arnie, me and three or four others.  I began to extol Arnie for his universal appeal.  I said, “Everyone agrees that Arnie Labaton is an absolute jewel.”  The festive manner of the group fell off and everyone who had been talking went silent and drifted off. 

A few minutes later, it dawned on me that my last syllable had been swallowed in the noise, and I had shouted that Arnie Labaton was an absolute Jew.

No comments:

Post a Comment