“It’s a beautiful day in Chicago”. 1950s. Our family gathered around Big House breakfast table. An old radio sitting on a kitchen counter beside us. Pap at head of the table shouting “Listen!” when he heard those words.
Grain and livestock market reports from Chicago every morning. Pap listened to them faithfully. I remember the name Alex Drier as the announcer, but recent Google research tells me the broadcaster was Everett Mitchell.
Whoever, first breath told us it was a beautiful day in Chicago and second breath described actual weather, windy, rainy or snowy, whatever Chicagoans were experiencing that morning. At his “Listen!” command, Pap quit chewing and the rest of us got quiet as church mice until he relaxed, having heard all he wanted.
I found that old radio the other day. An Emerson, six tube hetrodyne, whatever that means. Rotary AM dial, volume control knob, and speaker opening front. A wire wound board covering the back. I remember a good smack on its heavy black plastic top used to bring sound back up temporarily when it began to fade.
Radio had more mysterious guts than anything else we owned. When that good smack would no longer revive it, a trip to Mr. Joe Fridley’s house was in order. Mr. Joe, our barber, Dr. James Fridley’s dad, had a small radio repair shop behind his house on Trout Run. That little room fascinated me. Common tools, but also testers, tube pullers and I don’t know what all lay around on high work tables. I’d stand quietly while Pap and Mr. Joe discussed electric intricacies I didn’t understand and still don’t.
Joe finally declared the Emerson dead. In a box beside it I found its replacement, a General Electric. kind of maroon, otherwise about same as its predecessor. Beside the two boxed smaller radios, I found Pap’s “big radio”.
An RCA, wooden cabinet, AM/FM, four knobs down front. Warm weather, it occupied space in Big House’s living room. Cold weather it moved to our dining room which we kept heated.
I think it was Sunday evenings, I heard “The Lone Ranger” and a detective show, “Johnny Dollar”. I’ve never thought about it until this writing, but Joe Fridley, the barber, set me up for “The Lone Ranger” with the comic books I used to read in his barber shop while awaiting my turn in his chair.
“Hot Rod” Hundley and Jerry West were the kings of our big radio listening. West Virginia University basketball in the Old Field House at Morgantown topped Pap’s evening list of programs to listen to. I remember being head down on the dining room table, ear turned to the speaker listening to announcer describe Hot Rod’s antics and West’s two handed outside shooting. I learned to make judicious small dial adjustments to tuner and volume to keep reception at its best.
Those radios carried us well into the television era. Pap didn’t like tv, and wouldn’t buy one. His reason was that we couldn’t work and watch television at same time, but we could work and listen.
The End Room. Piles of books and magazines. Boxes of Sunday School lessons and veterinary journals. Shelved and stacked. Old bits of dilapidated furniture protruding, blocking passage between piles.
I remember a time when it was pretty well sorted. I assembled cheap steel shelving and lifted boxes into open holes wherever they’d fit. A few boxes had general statements of contents scrawled in Mom’s hurried hand. She knew what and where everything was. All that organization took place at least forty years ago, Those three radios occupied top shelf on a set of shelving which recently collapsed.
No doubt there will be more adventures to tell you about as I dig my way through family junk in preparation for turning the old place over to fifth generation.