Illuminating The Great White Way

A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.

Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, I get thinking things that wouldn't be worth thinking about if I was really awake.

I was lying there in the dark the other night and got thinking what a good job civilization has done lighting everything.

Before Thomas Edison came up with the light bulb, the only way people had of seeing in the dark was with fire.

There were campfires. We had kerosene lamps at our cottage at the lake.

Everything's lit with electricity now...whatever that is.

The Great White Way.

Downtowns everywhere are lit up 24 hours a day.

We have to pull down the shades in our bedrooms because of the street lights outside.

I bet the time will come when they put a permanent light in the sky...a manmade sun hung up there, 24-hour daytime we'd have. I'd hate that. We all need some darkness.

Flashlights were a good invention. I'm a sucker for clever flashlights though. And the bigger the better. I always want one of these when I was a kid. And they bring out the gadget inventors. I'll bet I've bought a hundred flashlights in my life. I have ever kind ever made. But then I never have one when I really want one.

During WW II the British had those great searchlights scanning the sky, looking for German bombers to shoot down.

I always think about what would happen if all but a few thousand people living on some remote Pacific islands were wiped out. Those humans left on earth wouldn't know how to make any of the things we have. How long would it take before another Thomas Edison came along and invented the light bulb again?

When I get thinking of something like light in the middle of the night, there's one light that seems perfect. And that's a candle. It's solitary...constantly casts great shadows...leaves mysterious dark areas in a room. Candlelight is best for deep thinking, too.

I'll bet President Bush would make great decisions if all he had for light in the Oval Office was a candle.

Written By Andy Rooney