Des Moines Register - Des Moines, Iowa
Last weekend, most Americans lost a dear friend we never met but whose voice we welcomed into our kitchens and automobiles, either at noon, during the morning rush hour or midafternoon. For my parents, it was the "Noon news with Paul Harvey."
In the 1950s, Dad would come home every weekday for lunch (as did my sisters and I from school in Dubuque). Mom always made sure the radio station was tuned in and turned on at the stroke of noon.
Whether we heard a summary of the news, a humorous tidbit or his stupid criminal stories, we finished lunch with a smile on our face and a clearer understanding of what was going on outside of eastern Iowa. No one else had a voice like Paul Harvey's, and no one could use it better. His well-timed pauses, inflection and expression could take the most mundane news and make it memorable.
Serving in the Air Force in the early '70s, I listened to his show on Armed Forces Radio in Japan. As a young adult in the '80s, I listened to his morning show as I fought the Chicago rush hour or rode a commuter train. Although away from home hundreds or even thousands of miles, there was that same voice, and somehow I was still "home."
My children, now young adults themselves, looked forward to his unique "Rest of the Story." My son, in his commute, would find Paul on his satellite radio. Much of what my wife and I experienced as kids, we could not replicate with our children - yet one part of our youth was still there for our kids: Paul Harvey. They could sit at the kitchen table at noon and be just as entranced as we had been 30 years before.
However, there has to be a "rest of the story" and here it is: In high school, I was fortunate to have success in state speech competition in no small part due to Paul Harvey's influence. I did not have Harvey's unique voice. But I could learn from his phrasing and intonations. At age 14, in addition to Boy Scouting, I had become an active member of the Order of DeMolay for Boys, a service fraternity sponsored by Masonic groups.
Although national in scope and existing since 1919, DeMolay boys are few in number but gain an inordinate amount of speaking ability that serves them well in adulthood. They also learn of Jacques DeMolay, the namesake of the fraternity, whom when seized with his fellow Knights Templar by King Philip the Fair of France on a Friday the 13th in 1307, inadvertently created the superstition of bad luck attributed to that date ever since.
Every year during at least one Friday the 13th broadcast, Paul Harvey would explain the story of Jaques DeMolay and his tie to that common superstition. What Harvey didn't say was that he, Walter Cronkite, John Wayne, Mel Blanc, Dan Rather, Fred MacMurray, William Holden, Paul Willard, Walt Disney, Bill Clinton and Burl Ives, had all been DeMolay boys.
Now you know the rest of the story! Thanks, Paul, and may God bless you and your family.