RADIO DAYS Every family had a radio. It was most likely a Zenith or Philco and it occupied the prime spot in the dining room where
nobody ever dined.
Kids would come home for supper on time every day because their favorite programs started about an hour and a half
before it was time to eat. Almost everyone listened to:
Tom Mix (A Cowboy): Tom had a white horse named Tony and his sidekick was called
Wrangler. The bad guy usually had an evil sounding name like Murdock.
Orphan Annie: She had every kid in America send away for her
Decoder Ring or some other contraption. The kids would ask the poor mailman twice daily if they had a package. That's right. We had
mail deliveries in the morning and afternoon every day.
The Shadow: He led a double life and when it was time to deliver justice his
voice changed and he disappeared into the background. His girl friend was Margo.
Terry and The Pirates: Very popular.
(The All-American Boy!): Never lost at anything.
The Green Hornet: Had a chauffeur named Cato who drove Black Beauty. Theme Song, "The
Flight of the Bumble Bee, of course. Later became basis for the Pink Panther.
Don Winslow Of The Navy: Theme Song, "Columbia The Gem
of The Ocean".
In the evening, the family would sit around the radio and listen to such programs as:
Lux Radio Theater
The Inner Sanctum
In the morning, when the kids were in school, mothers would listen to soap operas such as:
Dallas: She had a spoiled daughter who hob-nobbed with the upper class while Stella worked as a cleaning lady and secretly supported
Mary Noble, Backstage Wife: The title tells it all.
Sunday afternoons, America listened to Father Coughlin, a talk show without
incoming calls. He hated Roosevelt whom most listeners loved. After a blistering attack on Sunday December 7, 1941, the listeners
heard the announcement about Pearl Harbor. So much for Father Coughlin.
A Personal Memory The program was aired on Sundays. It didn't
compete with Father Coughlin, Red Sox Baseball or Jack Benny. The Longines Symphonette held a high standing in our house. My father,
Gus, would turn on the floor model Zenith with the miniscule dial, sit in his wing back chair (not unlike Archie Bunker's), light
up his pipe after rubbing slices of Edgeworth tobacco between his palms and stuffing the pile into the bowl, and prepare himself for
an hour of classical music.
When it was raining or if the neighborhood kids were unavailable, I would sit nearby and listen. Listening
wasn't restricted to the music. During commercials and other verbiage, Gus would tell me about the music, the composers or the performers.
This was my first encounter with names such as Enrico Caruso, Gallicurci, Verdi, Puccini, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach and whoever
or whatever was being broadcast that day. Gus owned an RCA Victrola and a collection of 78-RPM one-sided breakable records. He left
them behind in the barn on High Street when we moved to East Spring Street. He couldn't add to his collection and those that he owned
were scratched or nicked from hours of use. The neighborhood kids and Gregory kids used to climb the loft in the barn and play the
records on the Victrola.Whatever records were viable at the time were soon unusable.
The program started with a musical refrain and
the distinctive deep-voiced announcer " Longine's Watches welcome you to The Longine's Symphonette with our guest conductor Arturo
Toscanini. Our program today open's with Yasha Heifitz playing the third movement from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony."
At family gatherings
where wine was poured faster than consumption, Gus might entertain us with his rendition of La Donna E Mobile from Rigoletto, Pagliacci
or the inevitable O Sole Mio. I later learned that Italian men consider this a birthright; they believed if only they had the chance
they could open at LaScala.
My classical education was supplemented with Fred Hoey announcing Red Sox Baseball. Our favorite player
and hero was Jimmy Foxx.The Red Sox usually finished in seventh place in the league standings, one place ahead of the cellar dwellers,
the Washington Senators. The radio music inspired me to continue an appreciation that I enjoy to this day. The Radio Baseball didn't
discourage my love for the Red Sox but it sure started me on a journey of annual frustration and disappointment.