In the 1960s, TV had yet to become the household centerpiece, the shrine at which we worshipped for four hours a day, the constant backdrop to all other activities. Radio was still king. And Dad loved radio. Each workday at noon, he came home from falling Douglas fir trees, or building endless miles of fence, and flipped on the radio while Mom served up chicken soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, or whatever topped that day’s menu. Invariably, the news program Dad tuned into — he was not a music fan — ended with an essay by Paul Harvey. It started with the signature line, “Stand by … for news,” and then Harvey would launch into an ad for Ovaltine or Timex watches. It ended when Harvey told us “the rest of the story.”
“And now you know … the rest of the story.” Harvey was the master of the dramatic pause.
Harvey was a voice of common sense in a world of chaos. The Vietnam War was racing down the tracks and about to derail mightily. Men, not women, were walking on the moon. Cars slightly smaller than ocean liners — and only a bit more maneuverable — were being manufactured by the thousands. Women were burning their bras and marching for equal rights. Rock and roll music was dividing a nation, as was hair — either you had a lot of it, or you got your hair cut so it looked like the deck of a aircraft carrier. The flattop made a statement that you were conservative and proud. Hippies in tie-dyed shirts made the statement that you were liberal and ready to experiment.
Harvey was one of the crewcuts. But he wasn’t a stick in the mud. He had an eye for details other commentators overlooked, and he aimed for a fair and balanced approach to the news. We looked forward to his broadcasts every day always wondering what he’d come up with next. No, he did not promote marijuana or dancing naked around bonfires. But he did promote looking at life from an oblique angle and for that I am forever grateful. And now you know … the rest of the story.