“What is greater than God, more evil than the devil? The poor have it, the rich don’t need it. And if you eat it, you’ll die.”
Those words are known as the Paul Harvey riddle, and sounds like something he would say. The problem is, he never said it, according to Time magazine. (Answer to the riddle: “Nothing.”)
When Harvey opened his broadcasts with his familiar phrase, “Stand by for news!” we knew we were going to hear interesting stories sounding like they were coming from a neighbor down the street.
Paul Harvey had been a radio broadcaster for seven decades, but he wasn’t the only source of news, or stories, particularly in Clinton County.
Years ago, the Wilmington News Journal had local correspondents from each village, and some unincorporated areas of the county, who reported neighborhood news via weekly columns.
The news that was reported was often personal, and sometimes intimate. For example, my mother, Ellen Haley, was the Port William correspondent, and wrote this about my brother, Jack, on Friday, June 18, 1954. “Jack Haley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Haley, of Port William, underwent an operation for removal of a cyst of a gland in the neck on June 8, 1954, at Good Samaritan Hospital, Dayton. Jack will go to Dayton Saturday for a checkup. On Tuesday, when he was examined, it was found that the neck is not healing properly and it is feared a second operation will have to be performed.”
My mother also reported that the Port William Kitchen Kuties 4-H Club met Monday evening at the home of the leader, Mrs. Robert Haley. Rita Haley, vice president, opened the meeting. Members decided to go to the Drive-In Theater on Thursday. Nancy Cummins and Rita Haley served refreshments and Joyce Clevenger led the recreation. Next meeting will be held May 31 at the home of Karen Case. Norma Crothers is the club reporter.
Subscribing to the theory that brevity was a blessing, the article remained warm and alluring. Who wouldn’t want to go to the drive-in?
Sabina’s correspondent was Mrs. Laura Henkle. Mrs. Henkle reported that Mr. and Mrs. Orville Reed of Xenia and their daughter, called on Mrs. Anna Hatfield Sunday afternoon.
It is easy to picture the Reeds and Hatfields sitting under a large oak tree sipping lemonade and sweet tea, exchanging pleasantries as the gentle winds blew.
No news was inconsequential. Mrs. Hallie Dabe of Sabina was a Sunday dinner guest of Mr. and Mrs. Willis Heironimus. Mrs. Dale Adams of Sabina and Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Davis of near Xenia called on Mrs. Sadie Weller Friday afternoon. On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Don Gibson and children spent Sunday at the zoo in Cincinnati. Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Rhoades and family moved Monday to their new home recently purchased from the Goodson heirs. Saturday evening, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fowler called on Mr. and Mrs. Guy Riddle and family at their new home in Sabina.
In Ogden, Correspondent Mrs. Russell Roberts wrote, “Janet West of Greenhill spent the weekend with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Earl West. Mrs. Paul Fisher, Mrs. Arthur Mart, and grandson, Dale, went to Blanchester Friday night to attend a stage show at the Clinton Theater.”
Jeanie Walls of Sligo spent Saturday with Carolyn, Marilyn, and Roger Roberts.
My mother wrote her last column for the News Journal on Wednesday, July 31, 1963. She quoted an item from the court news. “Loberta K. Hughes transferred to Robert and Ellen Haley, lot and property at 340 North Spring Street in Wilmington.” That was it.
We all have heard the old joke, “My parents moved and didn’t tell me.” That was actually true in my case.
During the summer of 1963, I had left our home in Port William to attend the week-long Wilmington High School Band Camp at Camp Clifton near Yellow Springs. At the end of the week, I was shocked to learn my parents had moved to Wilmington while I was away. They had forgotten to tell me. At least I like to think they had forgotten.
Although some of the old columns from the News Journal correspondents might seem trivial, ironically, many of the current postings on Facebook are equally guilty. The other evening I read someone’s post who said they were going to buy a pizza. “What should I get? Pepperoni or sausage?” they asked.
They received 16 suggestions.
As time progressed, our personal news and stories have moved from the backyard fence, to the village correspondents, to present day social media.
It was once said, “The nice part about living in a small town, when you don’t know what you’re doing, someone else does.”
It’s human nature for people to want to share good news with our neighbors, and stories with their friends.
Across the ages, human nature has never changed. There isn’t anything new. Paul Harvey, without a doubt, did say these words: “In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.”
Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.
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