great stories

ernest reading poseRev. E. Anderson

NEWSNIGHT by Manuel Almada

He knows his clients only by voice.

Every day at 6 p.m. Raymond Flagg picks up the newspaper and wheels himself over to the telephone.

Well, first, there’s the death of Hal Thompson, aged seventy-three, of New Bedford. He was a lawyer. Did you know him? Oh, I’m so sorry.’ ‘There’s a happy item about

Mrs John Owens. She had a baby boy.’

And so it goes. Ray Flagg is a news broadcaster with a unique audience, and one of the most appreciative; one blind person at a time. Each evening until late, Flagg is busy telephoning his blind clients to read them items from the local newspaper, the New

Bedford Standard Times.

He knows his clients only by voice: their ages range from fifty- eight to seventy-eight. There is no charge for Flagg’s services. He feels that what he does is its own reward.
‘This helps and cheers me as I hope it helps and cheers them, too. What would I do if I were all alone?’

There was a time when he was. When his wife died in March 1965, the world became an empty place for Raymond Flagg. Overnight, the modest first-floor apartment where the couple had lived for twenty-six years became a painfully lonely place.
Flagg, now sixty-five, had no alternative but to stay in the apartment. He is confined to a wheelchair: when he was a child, infantile paralysis crippled his body but not his spirit.

One day, something a friend said gave Flagg the idea that has helped fill the aching void left by his wife.

‘Blind people like to know what is in the daily newspaper but have no one to read it to them,’ the friend had remarked.

Ever since, Flagg has been reading the papers to his blind friends bringing the world closer to them and to himself.

Flagg is self-sufficient. He cooks -his own meals and does his own housekeeping. A tiny pension supplies my his needs. He is most grateful for that independence. ‘I don’t need help. Thank God for that.’

The man who is grateful to God for not needing help from others is equally grateful for the privilege of being able to help others.

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