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A Texas exhibit on the life and times of late TV newsman Walter Cronkite

An exhibit chronicling the life and times of the late TV newsman Walter Cronkite is at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library at the University of Texas in Austin.

By Associated Press / May 17, 2010

A display showing Walter Cronkite broadcasting from the back of a car is seen in a display at the Walter Cronkite exhibit at the LBJ Library, Wednesday, May 12, 2010 in Austin, Texas.

AP Photo/Eric Gay

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Austin, Texas

Walter Cronkite covered the birth of space exploration, John F. Kennedy's assassination and Watergate.

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Yet the reporter and television news anchor once known as the "Most Trusted Man in America" never forgot his roots. Shortly after he died last year at age 92, a search of his work desk turned up a neatly folded canvas shoulder bag used for delivering Liberty magazine, which Cronkite sold door-to-door as a child.

"He was a newspaper man at heart," said Don Carleton, curator of the new exhibit "Cronkite: Eyewitness to a Century," which opens Saturday at the LBJ presidential library at the University of Texas.

IN PICTURES: Walter Cronkite

Carleton believes the bag may be the one Cronkite used to deliver the 5-cent magazine when he was 8 or 9 years old, earning half-a-penny per paper at the start of what would become one of America's most famous journalism careers.

The bag is featured in the exhibit culled from Cronkite's personal archive, which is held by the university's Briscoe Center for American History. It covers Cronkite's life from a budding journalist at the University of Texas — where he dropped out as a junior in 1935 because classes were getting in the way of journalism, Carleton said — to his days as a pioneering broadcast CBS newsman covering presidents and the Vietnam War.

Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center, helped Cronkite research and prepare for his 1989 best-selling autobiography "A Reporter's Life."

Also known as "Uncle Walter," Cronkite signed off for the final time as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" in 1981. Carleton said he wants the exhibit to be more than a trip down memory lane for baby boomers who grew up getting news from Cronkite.

"We hope a whole new generation will come to appreciate what he did for professional journalism and objectivity and the critical role journalism plays in democracy," Carleton said.

But nostalgic it is, right from the film clip that greets visitors and features the venerable newsman's recognizable baritone: "I'm Walter Cronkite."

The exhibit draws from Cronkite's collection of reporting notebooks, television scripts, photographs, letters from colleagues and dignitaries, and vast collection of press credentials. The exhibit includes some of his first newspaper clippings, yellowed with age but preserved thanks to a proud parent.