On Paul Harvey

My junior and senior years in high school, I was Philip Barbour’s computer lab manager during the lunch period. (Well, that’s what my class period overlapped with.)

The computer lab consisted of about fifteen TRS-80 Model IIIs or Model IVs, some Epson PC-XT compatible computers with monochrome monitors, a couple of flywheel printers, and two dot-matrix printers.

What did I do in those days, during that hour? Sometimes I would write… anything using Scripsit on the TRS-80s or Bank Street Writer on the PCs. Sometimes I would play BASIC games on the TRS-80s. Or I would play Hack on the Epsons. (You can still play Hack today; the latest version is NetHack. I think NetHack is a little overcomplicated, but Wil Wheaton thinks it’s one of the greatest computer games ever.)

There was also a radio in the computer lab, and I usually kept it on for the distraction.

At the span of nearly twenty years, I could not tell you what station it was tuned to, if it was AM or FM. But there can’t be many radio stations you can hear in Philippi, West Virginia, and whatever this radio station was, Paul Harvey read the news at noon.

I’d never heard of Paul Harvey. I had no idea who he was, or what he’d done, or why he read the news. But there was something about the way he spoke, the way he enunciated every word, every syllable, that would catch my attention and keep me captivated. His was a voice of authority and calm, and you knew that with every word he said he meant it. It was important.

I used to mock his “Rest of the Story” features; it was easy to do.

Paul Harvey passed away in Phoenix on Saturday. He was ninety.

I had no idea he was still alive, to be honest. Twenty years ago I thought he sounded… ancient. I would strenuously doubt that I heard him after high school. I don’t know what his politics were, but judging by Wikipedia, I imagine there was a great whopping gulf between my beliefs and his.

Looking a picture on CNN’s website of him standing with the previous President, I think Ray Wise would be the actor to portray Harvey in a biopic, both in terms of look and the gravitas of the voice. I don’t know why the world needs a Paul Harvey biopic; I’m just suggesting the casting.

My high school doesn’t stand anymore; it was torn down a few years ago, and a new building stands in its place. That computer lab with the TRS-80s is long gone, as is that old radio. Now Paul Harvey’s voice, too, is silenced. Those long ago days are now just memories.

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