all of the selves we Have ever been
Sometimes when I need to wind down
for sleep, I turn on my bedside radio.
Last evening the radio show host was talking with callers about their fathers. It reminded me how much my own father loved the radio.
There were many radios around our home in every conceivable shape and size. Wherever my father was, one of the radios was playing. In the evenings, dad would hunker down in a basement area he established as his private, personal space. He especially enjoyed listening to talk radio. Occasionally, dad would be one of the callers. During the short delay between call-in and broadcast, dad would race up the basement stairs and turn on another radio so the entire family could hear dad on the air. He delighted in his seconds of radio celebrity.
While sheltering-in-place, I have kept busy sorting through boxes, envelopes and binders of memorabilia brought down from the top shelves of my storage closet. Among the treasures, I came across a note my father wrote about his “radio days” as a youth, the time when he began to nurture his love of the medium.
Dad died thirty years ago, but the radio always brings him back to me. In honor of Father’s Day, I am sharing dad’s notes about his radio days. Here’s to you dad!
Listening to the radio is like reading a good book. The descriptions are verbal, yet the mind conjures up vivid pictures. You might find yourself laughing or crying along with Ma Perkins as her life at the lumber yard took a turn for the worse.
After school there were fifteen minute broadcasts of a variety of adventure programs designed for children. “Hop Harrigan,” America’s ace of the airways, would blast from the speaker at 3:15 PM. That segment was followed by Dick Tracy and the Lone Ranger. Evil-doers were generally finished off in fifteen minutes, but occasionally, there were cliff-hangers. It would take a number of segments for justice to triumph.
The sponsors of these shows enticed the listening audience of boys and girls into buying products by offering a prize. By sending in a label or a box top and a small fee a listener could obtain a secret decoder ring, or some other item used in the show’s segment. Without the item you would surely miss those secret messages sent directly to you by the show’s hero. Worse, you would be belittled by your peers for not having the latest item.
I remember being eight or nine year’s old sitting in a darkened room listening to “Lights Out.” The only light in the room was from the glow of the radio dial. I waited in silence with my heart racing anticipating a good scare. The sound of the creepy, squeaky door opening at the start of the show… nothing could compare to that!
My eager ears took it all in and went on flights of fantasy. For a brief time I could escape to places only my mind and imagination could take me.
Those days have passed, but I will always remember the heroes that saved the world from crime and corruption: the Green Hornet, Jack Armstrong, the Lone Ranger…
They are gone, but not forgotten.
You too, Dad. You too.
Happy Father’s Day!