While working a summer job in a parts warehouse during my teen years, a group of the older workers would gather around a radio each day to have their lunch.
There was little chatter, since at mid-day, all ears were tuned to a familiar radio voice that led into the show with, "Hello, Americans. This is Paul Harvey! Stand byyy for Newwws!"
Known for his love of God and country, Harvey reached out to as many as 24 million people a week from the 1950s through the 1990s. At a time when MTV opened the music video age in 1981 with the appropriate anthem "Video Killed the Radio Star", Harvey was still master of the printed and spoken word.
One commentator got it right by stating that Harvey's voice was such a force that he could make a pitch for laundry detergent sound like a passage from the King James Bible. The best commercial in last Sunday's Super Bowl featured Harvey's voice speaking at a Future Farmers of America convention in 1978. Credit Chrysler for matching the soundtrack with still photos of American farm life, as an advertisement for its Ram truck.
Here's the transcript:
"And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said I need a caretaker - So God made a Farmer;
God said I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk the cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board – So God made a Farmer;
I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild; somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to await lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon, and mean it - So God made a Farmer;
God said I need somebody willing to sit up all night with and newborn colt, and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say maybe next year. I need somebody who can shape an axe handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe straps, who at planting time and harvest season will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, will put in another 72 hours – So God made a Farmer;
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain, and yet stop in midfield and race to help when he sees first smoke from a neighbor's place - So God made a Farmer;
God said I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to wean lambs and pigs and tend to pink combed pullets; who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadowlark;
It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners; somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and rake and disk and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church;
Somebody who would bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing; who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says he want to spend his life doing what dad does – So God made a Farmer."
In Harvey's 2009 obituary, the New York Times stated: "He worried about the national debt, big government, bureaucrats who lacked common sense, permissive parents, leftist radicals and America succumbing to moral decay. He championed rugged individualism, love of God and country, and the fundamental decency of ordinary people."
Forget the over-the-top glitz and pyrotechnics of last Sunday's half-time show by Beyonce. The simple, elegant and powerful speech Harvey gave 35 years ago still resonated and is the kind of message this nation needed to hear.
By Jim Zbick