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A last word from Andy Rooney

October 9, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA , The Leader Herald

Albany native Andy Rooney said his last regular sign-off for "60 Minutes" on Oct. 2. It was his 1,097th commentary. As I enter my 17th year of writing this column, (at an average of 50 columns per year, that's more than 800 columns) I can't help but think about his reflections along with a few ideas of my own.

When Andy was asked how he'd like to live his life if he had it to do over again, he replied:

"If I had it to do over again ... I'd get on '60 Minutes' if I could and do a piece every week of my own. I'd write it and say it and that's what I'd like to do best. That's what I'd do."

He said one of his earliest influences was an English teacher in high school.

"I had an English teacher in high school who told me I was a good writer. ...I'm a writer who reads what he's written ... There aren't too many original thoughts in the world. A writer's job is to tell the truth."

Rooney liked to tell the truth as he saw it. In fact, he and I share some views and think differently about others.

He said he was more of a Democrat than a Republican, though he doesn't want to be identified totally with either party.

This is where we part ways, as I am a die-hard Democrat. Where Andy said he likes to think he's open minded, I have to say I'm predisposed to democratic ideals.

I have to identify with his early years when he was trying to become well known.

He said:

"I spent the first 50 years trying to become well known as a writer and the next 30 trying to avoid being famous ... I've been paid to say what is on my mind on television. You don't get any luckier in life than that."

I guess I haven't gotten to the point of avoiding fame, because it hasn't really become a problem the way it has for Andy on "60 Minutes." In fact, where he says he doesn't like being called out and complimented in public, I have to say that is one of the perks of being recognized, especially in the small town where I now live.

I also agree with the idea of never really retiring. As he said:

"I wish I could do this forever. Writers don't retire. And I'll always be a writer."

The last word he said had to do with being out to dinner and being recognized. He said: "If you do see me in a restaurant, just let me eat my dinner."

I would have to say, no, come on over and introduce yourself. Some of my best experiences have been in meeting you, dear readers.

I've had people stop me in the supermarket, or stop their car and come talk to me at the beach or even see me when I go to physical therapy at the Wells House in Johnstown. Having someone say hello and talk about how much they have enjoyed my column is great. I really appreciate it. Don't be shy.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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