Russell Baker in his newspaper memoir "The Good Times" remembers walking through London to cover Queen Elizabeth's coronation, wearing a top hat and tails and carrying his lunch in a paper bag.
Baker, who died Monday at age 93 after a fall at his home in Leesburg, Va., knew the full range of human experience. Through his New York Times column and classic memoirs, Baker chronicled the American century. While he wrote numerous books, his daily newspaper columns define his career. He began "The Observer" in 1962 in a bountiful era of New York newspapers and ended it in 1998 at the dawn of the Internet.
Growing up in rural Virginia during the Depression, Baker never lost his sense of boyhood wonder. A master of American language - he joked that his short sentences, in contrast to The Times' orotund style, made him a humorist - he also displayed a classical elegance. He was a natural American aristocrat.
He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his column and another Pulitzer in 1993 for his autobiography "Growing Up," in which he vividly recalled his boyhood during the Depression in rural Virginia. In "The Good Times," he joyfully remembered his career as a young reporter, especially his days as the London correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, an experience unimaginable these days.
After leaving the Times, like Joe DiMaggio saying farewell at the top of his game, Baker enjoyed a second career as the host of "Masterpiece Theater" on public television. He also wrote incisive literary criticism for The New York Review of Books and carried out other projects, including a libretto.
He never lost his pride that he could write fast. He was a newspaper man.