‘The rest of the story’

Published 10:45 am Saturday, February 6, 2021

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Have you ever wondered what the famed Georgian native son Lewis Grizzard would have to say about the state of the union today, or what kind of assessment one of the country’s greatest voices, Paul Harvey would offer?

If you know those two great men, you know we probably could not print what Grizzard would have to say, but Mr. Harvey would tone it down a bit and let us draw the inevitable conclusion.

I pulled up one of his old narratives recently, and I thought: Ah, I bet he’d retell this story in his vintage way, and leave us to draw the conclusion. Listen as we re-tell one of his great “The Rest of The Story” narratives. I’m sure he would do it himself if he were able to grace our airwaves today as before.

Mr. Harvey tells the story of a day on the fifth of April, 1912 when the ship, the Californian, sets sail from London, England on its way to Boston, under the direction of Captain Stanley Lord.

On the 14th, shortly before 11 p.m., the ship calls to alert a neighboring ship with which it had made earlier contact that it is stopping for the night. They can see its lights not far in the distance.

That message never goes through because the radio operator on that ship is busy taking incoming messages for its large crew of celebrating passengers. So, the Californian’s operator turns off the radio … and goes to bed at 11:30 p.m.

Still, the officers on deck of the Californian continue to make contact by Morse lamp with the distant ship, but there is no response.

It’s now 2:45 a.m., and Second Officer Herbert Stone sees a white flash appear in the direction of the ship, then five more flashes – rockets, brilliant flares into the night sky, a beautiful light show in the distance.

Officer Stone, puzzled, turns to apprentice Gibson who is on watch with him on the bridge,

“A ship isn’t going to fire rockets at sea for nothing!” he says.

“Look at her now. Her lights look a little odd.”

Gibson replies, “And she looks to have the big side out of the water.”

But by 2 a.m., their neighboring friend appears to be leaving the area, and all is quiet.

At 4:30 a.m. – when Captain Lord awakes – the two men alert the captain regarding that brilliant light show in the distance.

“And we saw other rockets, too,” they say, “coming from the southeast, headed in the direction of the neighboring ship.”

Captain Lord thinks the scene is odd, too, so he sends men to awake radio operator Cyril Evans.

An hour later – 5:30 a.m. – the night’s news comes across the wire.

As Mr. Stone and Mr. Gibson watched the light show in the distance during the night … the unsinkable ship, the Titanic, sank to the bottom of the ocean.

Just six miles away.

The Californian had radioed to warn the Titanic that night at 7:30 p.m. that they had spotted three huge icebergs in the area.

But the Titanic ignored the warning. And when the Titanic sent its radio pleas out during the night, the Californian’s radio operator slept.

He slept.

I’ll bravely take on the great Paul Harvey’s persona for a moment and say just what he would have said were he alive to tell his story with his dramatic pauses and vintage, perfectly-timed chuckles.

The Titanic, my good Americans … the Titanic is going down … down, down, down.

And all the while … all the while … we sleep.

Paul Harvey, Good day.