He was the quiet Islander, the longtime town attorney who had seen it all. I was the cub reporter stomping up the stairs to my office, shoulder bag stuffed with soft-lead pencils and notebooks filled with scribbles from some selectmen’s meeting, ready to be banged into a short story that the editors at the Cape Cod Times would inevitably make shorter by the time it appeared in print.

That was nearly 35 years ago. The Cape Cod Times Vineyard bureau was on the second floor in the back of the building on Main street, Edgartown where the bookstore is now located. Behind that was Dick McCarron’s office. Dick was pals with the bureau chief Harvey Ewing, which was how I came to know him. Harvey liked to wander back to Dick’s office several times a day, and he would inevitably return with a new joke, a plan for golf on Saturday and several news tips. I was always treated as a junior member of this little club, and I learned quickly that the only dues required were honesty, integrity and a sense of humor. Dick and Harvey had somehow struck that rare balance of friendship and professional association, and they managed never to cross the line between the two. It must have been hard at times; Dick was Edgartown town counsel and Harvey was the senior reporter who covered Edgartown (as my own professional dues I covered the other five towns).

But pals they were and they stayed that way. I guess it’s predictable to say that times were simpler then, but I don’t think they really were, they were just different. No one used computers or cell phones for work or social interaction; we relied on typewriters and face-to-face contact. And Harvey’s jokes.

And Dick was helpful to me, explaining the strange intricacies of town legal affairs, translating the dense language of the courtroom into English. I never wandered back to his office much — that was Harvey’s thing — but I always knew that I could call him for some background or an explanation of what had really happened in court or at that meeting where everyone seemed to be speaking Greek. He was patient and respectful and I realize now that he helped me gain confidence. And the little path between our offices became my proving ground for accuracy. When I would run into him, I would hold my breath and he would greet me with a knowing smile. “I read your story yesterday,” the smile said. “Okay, pretty good.” I would heave a sigh of relief and move on.

Eventually we all moved on. The Cape Cod Times office was closed; I started working for the Gazette and Dick retired. His son Rob became an attorney who now occupies the same office off Main street. Some years back Harvey died.

And last week, at the age of 79, Dick joined him. And now I’m pretty sure they are both up there somewhere, sharing Harvey’s joke of the day and plotting a little weekend escape to the golf course. Just like old times.