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James R. Stout

Paul Harvey

            My first memories of Paul Harvey are from when I was about 5 years old. That would have been circa 1960. I have previously mentioned in my writings that I would spend a lot of time with my grandparents on their farm when I was young. In those days, my grandmother would be cooking lunch and would therefore be busy in the kitchen. Their main meal was always lunch. It might include fried chicken, black-eyed peas, homemade mashed potatoes, cornbread, and perhaps banana pudding for dessert. Supper was always leftovers from that day’s lunch. When she would be in the kitchen working on lunch, she always had the radio station from Crockett, Texas on. The station would give local and county news, but the best part was the Paul Harvey News segment. His voice was such a calming and soothing voice. Hearing his report made you feel like things were going to work out right no matter how bad it might seem. I can still hear his voice and his famous tag line at the end, “Good day!”

            Throughout the 60’s I enjoyed listening to his program. I think it would be fair to say that he was one of the most influential personalities during my years as a child. There was a comfort in hearing his take on the day’s news. But then I reached my teenage years and I was more interested in girls, music, and all that stuff like “that that there”. Meanwhile, Paul Harvey was still on the air and despite the newer liberal mindset present and growing in America, Mr. Harvey was a steadfast conservative voice.

            By the late 70’s I was in my 20’s and married. I worked in downtown Houston and commuted on the Katy Freeway every day. For two years of those commutes I drove an old 1962 Ford Falcon. It was proof that I most definitely had not found a pot of gold. It boasted such amenities as no heater, no a/c, a large dent in the rear driver’s side door, an engine that only a snail would envy, and an AM radio that relied on potholes to turn off and on. The local radio station that carried Paul Harvey News would broadcast his “The Rest of the Story” segments at 5:55 p.m. on weekdays. I was able to listen to those segments because the Katy Freeway said that I could.

            In 1982 we decided to take a week of vacation and spend it at the farm. It was in August of that year that we loaded up the 1972 Plymouth Fury Station Wagon and went to the farm. The old farmhouse had not been remodeled yet and was pretty much the way it had been since I could remember. We had added a window a/c unit to the big bedroom and would close off the doors to that room so that we had a “cold” room. Like I said, it was August and East Texas in August means high humidity and generally triple digit temperatures. But that old house was built in a time when houses could “breath”. We could open all the windows and turn on the big floor fans and it was tolerable. Besides, if it got too hot there was the cold room.

            One day that week we drove down to Huntsville, Texas to do a little shopping. Most of the shopping in Huntsville was still on the courthouse square even as late as the early 80’s. There were two Five and Dime Stores, a sewing supplies and fabric store, a barbershop (I didn’t use them much in those days though), and various other establishments. I went into one of the Dime stores and was searching for something to read. We didn’t have TV at the farm and on those hot afternoons we would relax and do some reading. I needed reading matter considering I had inhaled the latest Dirk Pitt novel in two days. They had a rack of paperback books in the store and I found two books that I immediately chose. “The Rest of the Story” and “More of The Rest of the Story” by Paul Harvey. Between those two books and the old copies of “Reader’s Digest” from the 60’s that were still at the farmhouse, I had more than enough excellent reading matter for the remainder of the week.

            There are some good memories I have of that week including hiking the 360 acres of the farm much as I had as a child, grilling burgers and hot dogs on the hibachi on the front porch, long drives on the country roads, being young and feeling alive with the future still before me, and some lazy time sitting in my grandfather’s old rocking recliner and reading those Paul Harvey books. My wife enjoyed those stories too and I would read some of them aloud to enjoy together. I look back on that week and realize now that things were about to change greatly in the next few years. Fatherhood, career changes, the end of one dream and the beginning of another, and in many ways that week was the end of an era for me. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.

            Thinking back on those years I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of listening to Paul Harvey News and especially his “The Rest of the Story” segments. His style, his voice, and his traditional conservative American views still resonate with me. I miss hearing his voice and his take on current events. Mr. Harvey passed away in 2009 within a year of the passing of his wife Lynne. They were a team. She was instrumental in his success and was herself inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame for her production skills including her husband’s show. They had been married for over 60 years.

            I truly wish that the young people of today could listen to his programs and benefit from his views and wisdom. Everything is so fast today. I know how hectic life is when you’re young and raising a family, but it’s even worse today than ever before. The young people of today are in such a hurry. The saddest part about that is they don’t know what they are missing. I drove through a fast-food restaurant last night and ordered a chicken sandwich and a drink. When I got to the drive-thru window the young woman talked so fast that I couldn’t understand a word she said. It was like hearing a foreign language. It didn’t help that there was prodigious freeway noise in the background. I know she probably thought that I was just an old man, but I requested that she slow down and speak clearly. At least she didn’t roll her eyes. After she did as I asked, I told her that she had a very pretty voice when she slowed down and for just a second or two, she smiled, and I think it made her day.

            When I was 19 years old, I wrote a song that had a line in it that went, “Life goes by so quickly”. It really does. It may not seem like it at the time, but as my father used to say it went, “lickity split”. I think a great part of the appeal that Paul Harvey had was that he made you slow down and think. I checked online to see if the “The Rest of the Story” is available on CD. Well, it was at one time, but it seems even CD’s are a thing of the past today. I “think” it might be available via Podcast, but I’ll have to check into that further. That said, I’ll have to figure out whatever it takes to listen to a Podcast. Maybe I can figure a way to get them downloaded to my iPod and be able to listen to them in my truck. Hey, I could drive around the same country roads that my Grandma and Grandpa and I drove down and listen to Paul Harvey all over again. That’s a worthwhile goal. Oh, “and now you know the rest of the story”.

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