Bob Trout and Me
"Very Few of Us Are What We Seem."

Dave Wood Dave Wood
I have a friend who is the head of staff at the First Presbyterian Church in Crown Point, IN. His name is Dave Wood. We have a habit of going to breakfast or lunch every couple of months. In addition, we eat at the same restaurant, Bakers Square in Merrillville, IN. Bakers Square is a great restaurant specializing in excellent pies. However, Dave and I do not go there to devour pies but to talk. The serving staff knows that we always sit at the center booth along the window looking out at South Lake Mall. They take our order, return with it from the kitchen, and then leave us to our lengthy chat, which usually lasts a minimum of a couple hours.

Bob Trout and I

While eating, we will talk about anything and everything. We rant and vent regarding politics, religion, and people. We also share accolades for those with whom we agree. Having said that, I cannot think of any topic covered at our meals at Bakers Square upon which we disagree. We might question some small detail about the other's comment but will agree totally after a short explanation. However, those moments of clarification occur only on rare occasions. In response to our similarities, I have told Dave that I have never found anyone who is such an exact clone of me.

And then it happened. At our last Bakers Square symposium, Dave mentioned the name, Bob Trout and added, "You remember him, don't you?"

Bob Trout

My response was sure. Trout was a newscaster on CBS many years ago and began his career in the early part of the Great Depression. I asked Dave what was his point about Trout, since I had not thought about him for years.

Then came the one thing about which we disagree. He said that I reminded him of Trout. Really? To prove our looking alike, Dave picked up his iPhone and Googled Trout. I did not see any similarities except for our mustaches. You decide. Do I look like Trout?

Bob Trout Radio

Bob Trout

Al in studio with Jerome

This is a picture of me at WBEZ, which is the NPR station in Chicago. Jerome McDonnell interviewed me regarding Scottish independence. Do you see any likeness between Trout and me? I do not. However, a part of the problem might be that it is difficult comparing pictures of people at very different ages.

The following is a photo with Peter Jennings and Bob Trout, which was taken in April of 2000. Trout died in November of that year.,_New_York_City_April_14,_2000.jpg

Peter Jennings and Bob Trout

An intetesting note is that I interviewed Peter Jennings two years later, and he died in 2005 just three years after that interview.

Dave and I discussed his observation for fifteen minutes while finishing our meal during our Bakers Square symposium. I just did not see what he saw in me that made him think of Trout. However, that is not the end of the story...not even close to the end. Admittedly, I possess a strange quirk. I will pursue something that I do not fully understand until I can grasp it. An example of that quirk is the first 5-Critical Issues on my webpage. Each of those links was an example of being challenged to understand some issue.

Therefore, off I went looking for a closer resemblance of Trout and me. That effort took a while. Nonetheless, it was a fool's errand, and I returned empty-handed. As I was about to quit, I recalled something that Agatha Christie once said, "Very few of us are what we seem." Perhaps, Dave saw something in me that was similar to Trout's personality and that accounted for part of why he thought that we looked alike. Again, off I went to research Trout.

This is what I found, and none of which I knew. People that knew him said that he was very courtly, which I assumed meant he was refined and polished when out in public. In addition to the courtliness, he always wore a three-piece suit and dressed to the nines.

In fact, while covering a presidential convention long before air-conditioning, he was in a hotel with other reporters sitting in a restaurant. The entire group was in just a shirt and tie due to the heat. Nonetheless, he was still in a three-piece suit. He actually asked a female colleague if she minded that he would unbutton his vest. That is courtliness.

In addition, he always wore a hat and would tip his hat to women with whom he worked or knew. Halfway through this research, I was losing hope that my hunch would pay off. I have never owned a three-piece suit nor have I owned a hat. At this point, I found had nothing about which Trout and I paralleled. It seemed like Trout was living during the time of Charles Dickens in Victorian England.

This seemed to be the world of Robert Trout.

I was about to give up my quest to see anything similar about Bob Trout and me when I started to see some parallels. Trout was the one who first called FDRs radio broadcasts during the Great Depression fireside chats. When I write essays or teach, I too often will try to put a literary spin on situations. For example, I wrote an essay on Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana and his Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). I called Pence pensive. I suggested that he needed to be more pensive about his decisions as they related to RFRA.

Additionally, Trout was able to ad lib even when he had to go off script while reporting the news. That is another similarity. Along with being able to ab lib, I am able to do that quickly without any pausing.

Trout and I both enjoy a sense of humor. He and another reporter went to sign in at a hotel while working on a story. He noticed that the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) were having a convention at that hotel. He told his friend with a concerned tone in his voice, "I don't mean to alarm you, but this hotel is filled with revolutionaries. We must be on guard at all times."

Finally, Trout always seemed prepared for what was next. Just before the end of WWII, he was waiting for Clement Atlee, the British prime minister, to say that the war had finally ended in the Pacific. While listening to the BBC for Atlee's announcement, the BBC interrupted their normal broadcasting by saying that they had an important announcement. Therefore, Trout assumed that Atlee's would then make the announcement. Therefore, Trout announced the end of WWII. However, the BBC prefaced the announcement about the end of the war with the ringing of Big Ben. Since Trout assumed that Atlee was about to make the announcement, he beat the other American networks by declaring that WWII was over.

Like Trout, I am always ready to announce or predict political issues. I predicted Barack Obama would be elected prior even to his nomination as the democratic candidate. In addition, I knew that Affordable Care Act (ACA) or what is known better as Obamacare would become the law of the land prior to the passing of the Congress.

It intrigued me regarding the similarities that Bob Trout and I shared. Then a serendipitous event occurred while wandering through the Internet. I just happened upon this photo of Trout.

I am looking more like Robert Trout.

Maybe Dave was correct. What do you think? If you find any more pictures, you can join us at our Bakers Square symposium and share them with us.

This is Bob Trout's announcement over the radio at the end of WWII.