By Rick Houser – People’s Defender
It is hard for our older generation to accept this new generations’ additions to our world, but for as long as I can remember one item that crossed always generation line with ease. That was the addition of the radio. Many of my earliest memories involve seeing or hearing a radio playing. The radio had been around in its earliest forms, beginningwith the crystal set that barely brought in one channel and that only one person could listen to on head phones, lasting until after World War II. (If you don’t know what a crystal set is don’t feel bad, just Google it.)
But in the 1950’s came the electric radio. I remember an old cracked and chipped radio with the white faded to a near brown, bringing in almost exclusively WLW’s channel. Later in the 50’s or maybe around 1960, Dad went to New Richmond to A.P. Appliance and bought a brand new PHILCO AM radio. Dad declared it a family present since it was Christmas time. My sister and brother jumped on that radio immediately as it picked up four or five channels clearly. Technology progess right in front of our eyes. There were three places around our home that I recall this new treat being plugged in.
The main spot was in the kitchen. Dad and Mom played it in the morning to get the weather report and to hear the livestock and produce prices that were to open the market that day. This was considered important as those prices told Dad what to expect for his crops and animals at sale time and the weather dictated what we would or wouldn’t be doing that day.
In the evening the dial was turned to WSAI where we got the rock and roll music. It was Peg and Ben’s chore to clean up the evening dishes and put them away. As they were doing this they timed it to be between 5 and 6 p.m. because that was when the top ten song list was played in order from number 10 to number one just as the clock was coming up on 6. Now any teenager worth their weight in gold kept up with the top songs of the day and Peg and Ben and their little brother were no exception, so as the number one song was announced, the evening dishes were finished at the same time. They did have it timed perfectly.
The second place I recall seeing the radio was seasonal, as the months that we stripped tobacco that radio came to the stripping room. Dad had a small shelf up over the work bench and out of harm of being knocked down or broken. As best I can remember, it seemed as though the radio was above and in front of my Dad. He allowed Ben and Peg to play the rock and roll channel during the morning and afternoons, but it had to be played at a low volume. This was a fair compromise to them as they got to break the “old stories told” monotony and got to hear the coolest music.
When mid-morning and noon rolled around, Dad turned it to the stock and produce reports and sometimes the weather if he was looking for weather that might affect our work. This deal not only worked for my brother and sister but it worked for me also and my friends that helped as they quickly understood the agreement. There were no exceptions when Dad was in the stripping room. I guess that since Dad bought the Philco, he got to make the rules. As far as I’m concerned, that rule still stands.
The third place I recall the radio being plugged was on the summer evenings when it was plugged in on the closed-in porch and placed in a window so that we could listen to the Reds on radio as seldom were they on the TV in those days. It would be anyone’s guess as to how many ball games were heard as we sat around breaking green beans or lima beans or shelling peas. We raised big gardens and Mom felt it only fair that we all got the privilege of grabbing a newspaper and a hand full of beans to help break them. Even folks who stopped by to visit or see Dad on Trustee business would grab a paper and a seat and as we talked and broke beans we listened to Marty and Joe on theradio. I doubt if many of us can remember the score of any game, but somone always spoke up if the radio hadn’t turned on.
That PHILCO that was white and light green logged a lot of air time with my family. We had good reasons to be playing this new electronic device, it supplied entertainment to us. Even if we weren’t supposed to have fun working, we did thanks to our radio. One other thing about that radio was that it only brought in AM stations, mainly because FM had not been invented yet. But as odd as this sounds, we derived more than enough entertainment through those speakers than maybe could be pulled up through all the stations available today. At least it feels that way.
News, weather, comedy, sports, and music. That covers an awful lot of what we still look for today. Dad always said that it was money well spent and Peg, Ben, myself, and even my Mom agreed that the PHILCO had earned its place of respect in our family for a job well done.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and likes to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.