Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Radio Entertainment - the Best

Several of us were recently tangled up in a long email chain regarding the old-time radios.  Among other memories we talked about some of our favorite old radio shows like Jack Benny, George Burns, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Lawrence Welk, and even Amos and Andy.

Like painted blackface, Amos and Andy have gone on their cultural way, but they leave a memory.  What many folks do not know is that the creators who were the only actors, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, were white guys, pictured here, Amos on the left and Andy on the right.  When the television version came out, of course, that had to change, and blacks had an opportunity to appear in a television show even though it was a representation that today would not see the light of day.

Still, that was the good thing about radio - it was all in your imagination.  The sounds, the "vision", the story line, were all in your head, and you could be as engaged, frightened, or enraged as you chose to be.  When the bullets hit the floor you heard them, and you knew it was a tense moment.  Sometimes you could even "smell" the story - or was that the heat from the vacuum tubes warming up the dust accumulated there?  And you might have been watching, I mean listening, on a radio like the one pictured here, a classy old Zenith floor model, proudly sitting in the office of one Richard Holstad.

This radio was one of three that Richard owns - though none of them worked, until he found a supplier for all the vacuum tubes he needed to get them going again, and he expressed his great fortune and pleasure in the email chain:

Last evening I was able to get all three of these wonderful old radios working ….. as I worked on them and each one came to life again, the memories flooded back of listening, with my grandparents, my parents, my brother, my friends, as well as being entertained when I was alone by these warm-hearted wonders ….. and that old Zenith floor model was around many years before I was born bringing home reports of the war, the economy, the George and Gracie show, Bob Hope, Amos and Andy, Jack Bennie …….. somebody stop me here, Lee …. Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, Hop Along Cassidy, Ma and Pa Kettle, Spike Jones ……Lawrence Welk, Glenn Miller, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley ….. all these and more came out of the speaker of THAT old radio …… AND IT IS WORKING AGAIN!   To say that I am thrilled about this is an understatement.  

Just in case you have forgotten how these dandy old radios worked, just click this link for a YouTube demonstration.  You'll be reminded how you had to "tune" the radio, that moving your arm over the radio, or walking away from it, one or the other or BOTH would influence the signal quality and you'd often need to do it over again.  It's kind of like Tim Allen showing how if you stand just right, with your head tilted to one side and your right arm at an angle, you can pull in signals from outer space.  And you just had to be there to appreciate it, but if you were born after 1955, you probably never will.

PS: here's some irony - I just realized that in the time I have been posting this blog I have been listening to Radio Paradise on the internet, with their fabulous HD photos popping up in the monitor.  The good old days are gone.  Welcome the new good old days!

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