When Radio Was a Kid’s Best Friend.
Every so often, for no particular reason, I’ll start singing the lyrics of an old radio commercial … one that stopped airing probably 60 years ago. That draws strange looks from my daughter, should she happen to have stopped in for a cup of coffee.
I remember a lot of them … the jingles, the theme songs, the opening lines of many of the old radio shows. Today’s generation can’t imagine how much radio was part of our lives sixty or more years ago. For one thing, it was all we had. And we got to know allthe shows … the 15-minute adventure serials for kids that aired every day after school and before dinner: Tom Mix, Sky King, Little Orphan Annie, and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. And a lot more.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening at 7:30 came the big gorilla of the kids programs: The Lone Ranger. The actor who played the title role was Brace Beemer. And I can still recite the preamble to the show (with all the inflection given it by the long-time announcer, Fred Foy):
“With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice. Return with us now . . .”
In the evenings there was Fibber McGee and Molly, The Life of Riley (played by William Bendix), and a mock quiz show called It Pays To Be Ignorant. Major Hollywood stars like Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Fred Allen and George Burns (with the beautiful and daffy Gracie Fields) all had their own shows.
Ed Gardener starred in a show called Duffy’s Tavern. It took place in what was assumed to be a semi-sleazy restaurant/bar and the show opened the same way every week, with the sound of a telephone ringing which Archie the bartender (Gardener) would answer:
“Duffy’s Tavern, where the elite meet t’ eat, Archie the manager speakin’, Duffy ain’t here. Oh, hello Duffy …” Duffy himself never made an appearance, but the show was on the air every week for ten years.
There were dramatic shows like The Lux Radio Theater, and shows like Suspense and Inner Sanctum that scared the holy bejezus out of a 10-year-old kid lying there in bed in a dark bedroom.
Another old geezer here, a retired news anchor who has a weekly newspaper column, wrote a few weeks back about the good old days of radio and incorrectly quoted the lyrics to the Luster Creme Shampoo jingle. Well, you may be sure that I sure set him straight!