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February 28th, 2009

The Rest of the Story – Rest in Peace

The Rest of the Story

Though my overall memories of school are fairly horrendous, there are parts that I recall quite fondly.  One of these would be the 45 minute-long  bus ride from my hometown of Maringouin to my school in the city of  New Roads.  My bus driver was a country music fan; a taste in genre I did not share with her or the vast majority of people in southern Louisiana.  The dial, therefore, was permanently set at 101.5, WYNK - a position that seemed to bother no one but myself.  To remedy this, I never boarded the bus without my trusty headphones and a cache of Def Leppard cassette tapes packed inside of my booksack.  Every ride home, I drowned out the cacophony that is a busload of hyper children and the twang of "today's greatest country" by blasting Hysteria at near-full volume.

The ride to school, however, was a different story.  Instead of of country music, mornings on WYNK featured Paul Harvey telling "The Rest of the Story" and other gems that I treasured listening to.  Most of the children were still half-asleep, so it wasn't hard to tune out the low buzz of talking and listen to Paul Harvey's genial, velvety voice.  His stories always made me smile, or think, and I didn't feel my day would be complete without his signature "Good day" at the end of his show.

Sometimes we would make it to school before the show was over, and I found myself waiting to be the last off the bus so that I could hear "the rest of the story" and the "good day" that always seemed to make mine just that.  I didn't know what Paul Harvey looked like (it wasn't as if I could go and look him up on the Internet in 1989, after all) but I imagined him always smiling, kindly and middle-aged with dark glasses (for some reason).  I remember hearing him talk about Bose speakers and being generally fascinated by any and every product he was happening to hawk on any particular show; the man was as amazing a salesman as he was a storyteller.

As Keith Pieper says, in his article "What Paul Harvey Might Say About Internet Advertising" at his website, Pay the Pieper:

His content is interesting, informative, and compelling. He remembers the small person. He features the big ones. He talks with you, not to you. Instead of cramming crap into a small space, he uses silence as a weapon of interest. He's someone you like. He has personality. He's someone you trust. He's someone who's impact cannot be measured.  - Keith Pieper

I couldn't have said it better myself.  Paul Harvey is a warm, fuzzy memory of my younger days - his voice brings back convivial feelings of an old friend with whom I spent many cold mornings riding along with to school.  He was a talented broadcaster whose full and smiling voice flowed through homes and out of cars in, literally, generations of families.  As I write this, the 90 year-old Paul Harvey is no longer with us - he passed away only a few hours ago.  It feels as if America has lost a dear friend...he will be missed.

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