When I was at The Tampa Tribune in the 1980s and 1990s, the newsroom had a lot of personalities, none bigger that H. Doyle Harvill. As editor, Harvill could be an energizing, bewildering force not opposed to proudly flaunting his power with a puff of tobacco smoke in your face, or a sexist comment if you were a woman.
My favorite Harvill story, the one that makes me laugh and shake my head to this day, involved a younger male editor. The following is how I recall it going down: Upon noticing that the editor may have gained a little weight, Harvill loudly barked for all to hear, “Hey (so and so). Looks like you’ve put on a few pounds. Hell, when I was your age, I used to drop five, 10 pounds a week just f&#*-ing.”
Another memorable story involved flying with a crazy pilot who was one of Harvill’s buddies.
Once heavy rains saturated Hillsborough County, Fla., submerging neighborhoods and cow pastures and leaving a long stretch of Interstate 4 underwater. I was covering the aftermath, and the editors wanted me to get a bird’s-eye view of the flooding. At The Tampa Tribune, that meant flying with Selbypic, the company that shot the newspaper’s aerial photography.
I drove over to Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands and found Selbypic proprietor, pilot and photographer W.H. Morris eating lunch as he waited for me near his airplane. As I walked toward the hangar, I immediately noticed two things: One, Morris’s small plane was missing a passenger-side door. And two, Morris was washing down his sandwich with a Michelob.
We exchanged a few words, and then the pilot gave me that what-are-we-waiting-for look. He tossed his beer bottle, grabbed the door and reattached it to the plane. Soon enough, we were airborne, and I was on my way to get a better look at the extent of the disaster.