Monday, February 27, 2012

A New Way to Waste Time!

I was sitting in my living room, minding my own business, probably reading the newspaper, when suddenly, out of the blue, came a sound that sent me hurtling back in time to the 1940s. I was sitting on the floor with my brother, our heads bent toward the big, brown radio, listening to “Captain Midnight,” and the familiar announcer’s voice talking up Ovaltine! The sound I had heard was the opening chords of that program.

I opened my eyes to my own living room, with no brother or radio in sight, but my daughter, Anne, holding up her iPod and laughing. When she had recovered, she introduced me to “streaming” of “Old Time Radio.” How incredible! How fantastic! I lunged for her iPod, and she showed me how to find the index, search for my favorite old radio shows and play them. “Jack Benny,” “Information Please,” “It Pays to be Ignorant,” “The Shadow,” “The Lone Ranger,” “The Lux Theater,” “The Green Hornet,” on and on they went…

I never realized how completely my childhood was wrapped up in radio. I woke up with it — “The Breakfast Club,” and went to bed with it (under the covers so my parents wouldn’t hear) with “Fibber Magee & Molly,” “Can You Top This?,” “Suspense”… It was all-consuming, sort of like TV and texting is for kids today.

Then there was the year I was home from school with rheumatic fever and could listen to all the daytime programs, “Ma Perkins,” Helen Trent,” Lorenzo Jones and His Wife Belle.” And now, with a touch of the dial – no, with a punch of the iPod – I can hear those shows all over again. Wow!

Goodbye writing schedule. Goodbye family and friends. Goodbye 21st Century. Hello “Tom Mix”!

Robin Hathaway


  1. Robin, hon, where do you think I steal all those radio programs that I bring down to your place? Just found a bunch of Nero Wolfe and Hercule Poirot plays for next summer.

  2. Actually, Robin, the night radio is a solid friend even now, for those of us who don't sleep well. I live each night by the excellent shows of Coast to Coast and the various talk show men on WABC - I could not exist without their company!
    T. J. Straw

  3. Robin,
    Around that time back then, I was on a Brooklyn floor in front of a floor-model RCA Victor in a burled wood cabinet, mesmerized by the trustworthy voice of 'Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons', as Mike Clancy, his right-hand man, in Irish copper accent, bemoaned their stalled investigation... If it was noon, I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (two) at the kitchen table while "Helen Trent, on the rocks of despair, fought back bravely (for Gil Whitney, her Man-About-Town)...and after school, "Our Gal Sunday, from a little mining town in the West, found happiness with the titled Lord Henry..." Thanks for the memories, Robin.

  4. Anne here! Elena -- I knew that was probably what you had shared during your retreat! Very fun to watch my mom get transported back in time.

    My husband and I listen every Sunday to old radio programs that the local NPR stations plays. Ed Walker's Big Broadcast. There is something so relaxing about listening to those shows...

    Side question -- does anyone know if I can get an email when this blog is updated? I have an RSS feed of it in my Google Reader, but wasn't sure if there was an auto-email option. :-)

  5. Anne: If I figure it out I'll let you know. I'm sort of the webmaster here but my ignorance is nearly boundless.

  6. My ignorance is boundless too! Google has replaced my brian. :-)

    I did find this post if it's helpful:

    PS: I love this blog, and it's not just because my mother is a contributor. :-)