RADIO DAYS (reposting) Aug 5, 2010 7:50:48 GMT -6
Post by cottonpicker on Aug 5, 2010 7:50:48 GMT -6
Larry D. Davis
When I was a youngster my main entertainments were Cowboy movies on Saturdays, baseball during the summertime and RADIO…every day! We had a big Motorola floor model about as big as I was and it had 3 listening bands--one for AM signals and two shortwave bands. There was no FM back then. Even though we lived on the flat plains of western Oklahoma, reception was at times variable due to weather conditions and sometimes the signal faded in and out. I was always tinkering with making a “crystal radio set” with earphones, but it only picked up my hometown radio station, KASA, 1240 on the AM dial, and that was the station I listened to most of “my programs” on after school and in the evenings.
Who among you doesn’t remember some of the catchy jingles and theme songs that announced the programs as they were coming on, such as: “better get Wildroot Crème Oil, Charley.. it keeps your hair in trim”… OR… “brush your teeth, brush your teeth…brush your teeth with Dentyne”, OR… “you’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent”…OR, “let’s have another cup of coffee, yes, let’s have a cup of Nescafe`”?
Some of my most favorite programs were…”who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men? “The Shadow” knows… (followed by evil laughter)”. And, who could ever forget Jack Benny…Our Miss Brooks… Amos ‘n Andy or Fibber McGee & Molly, just to mention a few. My grandmother, out on the farm, always listened to her favorite “soaps”, such as Our Gal Sunday, Helen Trent, I Remember Mama and Just Plain Bill...mostly sponsored by dish detergents like Oxydol or Rinso.
My favorite after school radio programs were usually sponsored by breakfast cereals and I was always sending in a dime or quarter (rarely) with a box top or jar label off to Battle Creek, Michigan for an offer. Sometimes it was a secret decoder ring from Captain Midnight (sponsored by Ovaltine, which I drank religiously!), or a map to the “Black Widow Mine” featured on “Sky King” who, with his sidekicks Penny & Clipper, flew his airplane, the Songbird, over the skies of Arizona to round up villains and was sponsored by Skippy Peanut Butter. Then, there was one of my favorite premiums from Sky King--a simulated gold ring engraved with an Aztec calendar on both sides and topped off with a fake green emerald “stone” on top! I proudly wore it to school in the 3rd. grade and kept it for many years until it got misplaced when I moved to PA back in 1964. There were many others…
When weather conditions permitted a clear signal on Saturday nights, we’d gather ‘round the Motorola and listen to ”The Grand Ol’ Opry” sponsored by the National Life & Accident Co. and broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium on “WSM, 650 on the radio dial” from far off Nashville, Tenn. We loved country music and I clearly remember hearing Hank Williams, Little Jimmy Dickens, Sam & Kurt McGee, the Boys from Sunny Tennessee”, Roy Acuff & the Smoky Mountain Boys, and Ernest Tubb singing “I’m Walkin’ the Floor Over You”.
My late nighttime listening, after the regular evening programs were finished, included trying to catch far-off radio stations on the shortwave band and I actually succeeded and listened to Quito, Ecuador and Havana, Cuba among others. That was a thrill!!! THE most memorable and easiest to capture was radio station XERF in Del Rio, Texas located about 700 miles to our south. Their illegal “outlaw transmitter” was located just across the border in Coahuila, Mexico to avoid U.S. Federal Communication regulations and the announcer I most remember was “Paul Kellinger, your good neighbor along the way coming to you from XERF”. Their “clear channel 50,000 watt signal” blasted across the border into Texas and Oklahoma and clear up to the Canadian border!! Between musical segments they advertised everything for sale from herbal or snake oil remedies or Sacred Prayer Cloths to Holy Water, or “goat testicle extracts” to improve the virility and sexual prowess of men. Best of all, they featured GREAT MUSIC which I loved… whether it was Mexican Mariachi, Southern Gospel, or Country & Western and I also remember they offered a “Quick Learning Course for Honky Tonk Piano” and one for learning “Country Guitar”. Never did get around to ordering those, but I enjoyed that station and it entertained me for most of my childhood until high school when I became too busy preparing for my future. It was all a part of “growing up”, I suppose.
For Christmas, 1951, Mom and Dad gave me a Hopalong Cassidy radio and it was my pride and joy--my most prized possession and I still have it today! It is made of red metal with a silver motif on the front featuring “Hoppy & his horse, Topper” rearing skyward. No telling how many hundreds of hours I’ve listened to that little companion and I wouldn’t take the world for that little red, four tubed radio. Great memories!