Teenage Cronkite Wrote About Stein's Sparkling Conversation, "Mannish Blouse"

Illustration for article titled Teenage Cronkite Wrote About Steins Sparkling Conversation, Mannish Blouse

When he was an 18-year-old undergrad at UT Austin, Walter Cronkite interviewed Gertrude Stein for The Daily Texan. His 1935 profile of this "extremely modern" woman is pretty amusing.

On her conversation, Cronkite writes:

She enters wholeheartedly into any conversation. She is extremely modern. She enjoys to talk, and her enthusiasm is no private thing. It spreads to anyone with whom she comes in contact.


On her outfit:

Dressed in a mannish blouse, a tweed skirt, a peculiar but attractive vest affair, and comfortable looking shoes, Miss Stein appeared much more of the woman than do the pictures that currently circulate. She strokes her close cropped hair with a continuous back to front movement. Even this nervous gesture is easily accepted by her present company.

On the Great Depression:

Miss Stein attributed the depression to the psychology of the people. "The depression is more moral than actual," she observed. "No longer the people think they are depressed, the depression is over."


On Alice B. Toklas:

Miss Alice B. Toklas, Miss Stein's traveling companion whose title is not "secretary," according to the author, was present. This lady who walked in on Miss Stein twenty-five years ago and has been with her ever since has absorbed much of the charm possessed by the most famous of the pair.


But if she's not her secretary, then what is she??

Walter Cronkite, Cub Reporter, Meets Gertrude Stein [NYT]
Daily Texan Talks Great Depression With Author [Daily Texan]


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I have always wished I had been alive for the heyday of the Left Bank. I would have crashed one of this woman's parties, had an affair with Hemingway, and drunk myself to an early death, but it would have been funner than living in an office block.

Today the closest thing one can get to such artistic communion is to get into an MFA program, and you have to pay for the privilege. I hate modern artistic culture, in many ways, but this I hate the most.