Fr. Chuck Keefe and Thomas Mountin, James Harvey’s roommates during their senior year at Saint Francis de Sales College in 1970-71, knew well the class’s soon-to-be valedictorian’s penchant for expediency and perfection when it came to term papers.
“He was one of those guys who was so well put together, for the most part, he’d have his term papers finished within a month of their assignment and then would be bugging other classmates, ‘Got your term papers done yet? Got your term papers done yet?’” Fr. Keefe, director of pastor care at the Milwaukee Catholic Home, recalled.
According to the priest, his Vatican-bound classmate did not type well, but Mountin could.
“I was one of the few people who could type,” said Mountin, an attorney with Miller, McGinn & Clark SC, noting that everything was done on a manual typewriter. “I took typing during summer school and in high school.”
One time he was typing a “fairly massive term paper” for his studious classmate, whom he termed “a perfectionist and a revisionist,” when he thought, “I wonder if he’s going to want to make changes?”
Figuring he would, the typist was ready. On his desk was a rejected copy of the paper but with a new title page.
“True to form,” Mountin continued, “he came in and said, ‘I have one minor change.’”
According to Fr. Keefe, “Tom went into a fake rage and tore it to pieces.”
“I yelled, ‘I’ve had it!’ and ripped the paper and left.”
Fr. Keefe recalled their roommate’s shock.
“The only think I remember Jim saying is, ‘What have you done? I’ll never get that put together again!’”
Mountain remembered him being “apoplectic,” i.e., furious.
Depending on the account, the future Vatican diplomat either tried taping the pieces together or attempted to type it himself.
“I came back and he was hunched over the typewriter,” Mountin said. “It would have taken him days.”
Both agreed on what happened next.
“I pulled a finished copy out of the drawer and handed it to him,” Mountin said with a laugh. “It was great fun.”