Paul Harvey Remembered

Paul Harvey's Herald of Truth Statue
Top: Paul Harvey’s Herald of Truth statue
View closeup of nameplate

In light of the recent Dodge “God Made a Farmer” ad during the Superbowl that featured Paul Harvey, some friends have suggested I write a little about my experience working with the legendary radio broadcaster. I have always been hesitant to put down a ‘permanent’ record about my time with Mr. Harvey. The stories I tell people close to me, while generally funny and harmless, could alter the way one views him. I would never want to take away from the respect he earned throughout his brilliant career. So instead, here’s a small tribute about how I see my old boss (yeah, the title and form might be a little cheesy, but the sentiment is not).

If God Made a Newsman

If God made a newsman He would give him a voice…a double-edged sword. One side would be rich and pleasing to the ears, a light touch in an often somber business. The other would be authoritative and stern, so you’d know he meant business. Immediately identifiable, his voice would resonate beyond our ears, deep into our hearts and souls, making us take stock of this world. If God made a newsman, his voice would move us: to listen, to learn, to laugh or even cry, to think and wonder and hope and dream. And of course it would dare us to act.

If God made a newsman He’d give him a child’s spirit: curious and hungry for knowledge…and experience. No stone would be left unturned if God made a newsman. Fearless – and sometimes reckless – he’d wrestle with things about which he knew little, until he learned them inside and out. That’s how a child learns. He explores and consumes, digests and contests, processes and accepts until he’s made sense of it all.
And if God made a newsman, He’d couple that curiosity with a razor-sharp intellect. An historian and a seer would God’s newsman be. He would study the past and he would never forget. He’d apply proven knowledge to new plots and schemes and he’d share his conclusions so you could see, too.

If God made a newsman, he’d be a chameleon. Slipping in and out of social spheres and economic tiers, he would put his finger on the pulse of our world. He would find common ground and, like a cowboy, herd us toward the lush lea of equanimity where we might finally learn how to get along. He’d be just as comfortable in boots and a denim shirt as he would in a suit and tie. After all, when it comes time to knuckle down, every shirtsleeve rolls up the same.

If God made a newsman, he’d be salt-of-the-earth. But he’d have a pinch of pepper, too. Tenacity and toughness mixed with the bite of wit. His words just might make your blood boil, your heart race, and your color rise so that all of a sudden, you’re in a sweat. But God’s newsman knows that a good sweat can purify and cleanse.

And if God made a newsman He’d temper that fire with a sense of humor. News is all at once contentious, divisive, doom and gloom, bust and boom. Sometimes we need a little chuckle, a good belly laugh or even a straight guffaw to break things up. If God made a newsman he’d see the funny side of us and help us see it, too. He’d understand that no one can take himself so darn seriously all of the time.

Well, good news Americans…God did make a newsman…and his name was Paul Harvey.

—Ryan Varney


Can a Dog Person Become a Cat Person?

Sometimes people are broken up into two categories: dog people and cat people. I’ve always been a dog person. My folks got a dog when I was nine years old and they’ve had one ever since. Though I’ve never truly owned a dog since moving out on my own, I still consider myself a dog person. The funny thing is that I’ve inherited four cats since then (not all at the same time – I’m not that crazy). And while I’m still not a cat person, I’ve come to accept cats and even grown to love cat people (you know who you are).

I make mention of this because recently one of the cats I’ve inherited, Walter, is doing his best to turn me into a cat person.

Can a dog person turn into a cat person?
Stoic Walter just might turn me from a dog person to a cat person

Walter’s Harrowing Tale

Due to the ineptitude of Walter’s owners, he’s currently trying to recover from a nasty bite wound he received because said owners left him outside all night. True, he probably could’ve backed down from the altercation that led to the bite, but he’s no pussycat. In fact, his toughness is playing a big role in swaying me to the dark side.

Another factor in my possible conversion is the way Walter is handling the prolonged suffering from the bite. The day after the Fight in the Night, Walter was quite lethargic and limping horrendously. He spent his whole time laying around in this crummy old foam cushion we gave him for a bed. Concerned, we inspected him and found nothing out of the ordinary. We even took him to the vet for a professional inspection. The vet found a puncture wound, but there was no blood or sign of infection – though Walter was running a slight fever. He gave us some antibiotics and called it a day.

A few days later, Walter showed signs of life, though he still had a terrible limp. The antibiotics were definitely helping the fever, but not much else. So back to the vet he went and without complaint – even the vet was impressed with his stoicism. X-rays were taken and no damage was found. Perhaps the owners need to take a cue from their cat and handle the situation with a stiff upper lip instead of freaking out like ninnies, the vet insinuated. Admonished, we headed home with our tails between our legs and resolved to give Walter adequate time to heal.

Fast forward one week. Walter is still limping egregiously but seeming to get stronger. He managed to pull himself up on his favorite kitchen stool where he likes to keep an eye on household activities – in this case, dinner. I happen to notice some liquid running down the stool onto the floor and thought maybe I’d spilled some milk or something. I inspected closer and got a whiff of pure rottenness. Definitely not milk. Did Walter puke?

Walter is one tough cat
Walter’s bite wound and the origin of the puss leak…ew.

I started to move him so I could clean up the mystery substance and as I grabbed him I uncovered the mystery. A stream of puss oozed out of the puncture wound as I picked him up and I noticed the area was quite red and swollen. The infection had finally set in and Walter was now dealing with a monstrous abscess. Clearly the antibiotics were not strong enough.

Back to the vet – and again, no complaints from Walter. This time the vet cut a half inch incision (no anesthesia mind you) under the abscess to allow continuous drainage. Walter made nary a peep. We also received some more potent antibiotics.

So far, Walter finally seems to be improving. His abscess still leaks a little but his limp is better and sometimes he even tries to break into a run. Despite the hilarity of the way he looks running on three and a half legs, I applaud his toughness and determination.

He has won my heart over and I think he’s earned some kind of treat. Considering it’s winter and he spends a lot of time in the garage, I think I’m going to replace that crummy old foam cushion with a real bed. A nice heated thermo cat bed. What tough guy doesn’t appreciate some nighttime warmth?

One Final Note

Walter is certainly living up to his namesake. This is a quote from legendary HOF running back Jim Brown.

“The first time I saw him…I saw him make this one run. He fought for every inch… Spun around. Accelerated. And I said, ‘Oh my goodness! What kind of animal is this?’ The strength, the tenacity. Give me the heart of [Walter]. There’s never been a greater heart.”

Brown was talking about Walter Payton, Chicago Bears HOF running back, and a man known for his toughness. He’s also the man for which our tough guy Walter was named.

After watching Walter the cat handle his ordeal with stoicism and toughness, I think he’s living up to his name.

—Ryan Varney