September 28, 1981 12:00 PM

Branch Water

Veteran newscaster David Brinkley, 61, who will retire next month from NBC News, remembers when he was a young reporter in North Carolina and his work was a little more hands-on. One day while he was covering the courts in a dry county, Brinkley met a local sheriff who had seized 100 cases of illegal Canadian whiskey. “The judge ordered it smashed in public, bottle by bottle, in front of the courthouse,” recalls Brinkley. The eager-beaver reporter scrambled to the bottom of the steps and tasted a finger’s worth as the contraband cascaded down the steps. It was all water. “When I went to the judge and informed him of my discovery,” guffaws Brinkley, “he said, ‘Damn, I told them to smash one fifth of whiskey out of every case to make it look legitimate.’ ”

Work Is Better Than

Buddy Ebsen, who comes back for one more shot next month on CBS’ The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies, says that, though he’s 73, he has no plans to retire. “It’s all right to drive a golf cart around once every few months, but to be sentenced to get up every morning at 6 o’clock and hit that little ball around, stagger to the locker room, go to the clubhouse and listen to the same dull stories, pay off your bets, go home and have your wife say, ‘Where’ve you been all day?’—it’s not for me.”

Footnotes

President Reagan has four new pairs of cowboy boots to break in this fall, but very carefully—they are valued at $1,000 a pair. Manufactured by the Tony Lama Company of El Paso, Texas, the four pairs are made of chocolate-brown ostrich, black ostrich, tan calfskin and—for formal wear—black patent leather. Each boot is emblazoned, over the shin, with a five-inch presidential seal with eagle wings made of frog skin and a border of 14-karat gold-saturated calfskin. During his campaign, the President had admired the Lama boots worn by old pal and veteran screen cowboy Rex Allen. Allen, who happens to promote Lama boots, promised Reagan he’d have presidential boots from Lama if he made it to the Oval Office. In June—after a nudge, he says, from Nancy Reagan—the boots came through. The President has actually been seen wearing one pair (with cowboy shirt and jeans) on a recent jaunt to Camp David. Another footwear story that recently stirred comment around the White House involved Missouri Sen. John Danforth when he came to urge the President to continue import limits on shoes from Taiwan and South Korea. Danforth argued that imported shoes hurt business in his home state, second only to Maine in footwear manufacture. He lost the fight, however, when import limitations were lifted shortly thereafter. Maybe the President spotted Danforth’s shoes at his White House call—pricey Gucci loafers, made in Italy.

Saturnine Remark

Though he’s best known as a comedian, partnered for years with Dudley Moore, actor Peter Cook (The Two of Us) is in real life a co-founder and owner of Private Eye, a popular English satirical magazine. Although Cook doesn’t leave Republicans unscathed (“[Reagan] can take a three-year nap as far as I’m concerned”), Cook is not kindly toward former President Carter. “When Carter first became President,” says Cook, “I said he was a Martian and came from outer space. Then I said he was an alien—possibly a benign alien. When they discovered that thing around Saturn in the shape of a peanut, I thought that was confirmation.”

Furthermore

•The night Frank Sinatra opened at Carnegie Hall, the southern tip of Manhattan was plunged into a blackout that thinned the crowd and made some concertgoers late. That didn’t faze the opening act, jazz pianist George Shearing. “So there’s a blackout?” observed the blind virtuoso from the stage. “I’m glad somebody told me.”

•”Acting is not very hard,” says Glenda (Stevie) Jackson. “They say the most important things are to be able to laugh and to cry. Well, if I have to cry, I think of my sex life. And if I have to laugh—I think of my sex life.”

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