For thirty-five years, whenever I called my father’s office, he would answer the same way, barking “Braestrup here,” rather than “hello.”
My father, Peter Braestrup, was a foreign correspondent for most of my early childhood. Then he wrote a book, a history of how the United States press corps had covered the Tet Offensive during the war in Vietnam. The book was called BIG STORY, a very apt title since it ran to two volumes in hardcover, with most of the second volume devoted exclusively to footnotes. BIG STORY still serves as a textbook in college journalism classes, and during the first Gulf War, Dad often appeared on television news programs, offering expert commentary on military-press relations. After one such appearance, my UPS man insisted on explaining his own views on the subject before he would give me my package; such are the perils of having an uncommon name.
Anyway, Dad then went on to become the founding editor of the Wilson Quarterly, a magazine put out by the Smithsonian Institution. After he “retired,” he became publications director for the Library of Congress, and was still serving in that position when he died in 1997, at the age of sixty-eight.
As an adult, I experimented for a time with answering the telephone the way Dad did, but various friends and relations were mysteriously offended by the crisp brevity I admired, so I gave it up. Still, whenever I sign on to my police radio with my call-number (“2107, Augusta, I’m ten-eight!”) I am, in my own mind, echoing my late father’s voice. Braestrup here.
Vaya con Dios, Dad.