by Richard Diem
Remember the days before television? Oh, there were such wonderful radio programs to stimulate the imagination, shows that encouraged my mind’s eye visions to run free.
I remember nights when I couldn’t sleep, especially muggy summer nights, I’d turn on the little transistor radio in the room I shared with my brothers. Luckily, we all liked, “Listen to Lacy” and “The Milkman’s Matinee” - cool music to distract us from the heat of those nights. William B. Williams on WNEW, and on Saturday mornings my favorite Martin Block and the “Make Believe Ballroom” playing, in order, the top songs of the week. Always, there was music.
I had a little box 78 record player with my own collection of music. Often with my brothers, we’d play our own top ten songs of the week by voting on pieces of paper and I’d figure it all out and then play those songs in order. Limited to my collection, the order didn’t change much. Frankie Laine’s, “Mule Train” used to win a lot as well as Vaughn Monroe’s, “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” Another favorite was “Old Soldiers Never Die,” and “The Tennessee Waltz,” by Patti Page.
We boys also gathered around in the living room to listen to The Jack Benny show, The Lone Ranger, the Phantom, the Shadow, the Green Hornet, Gangbusters, Inner Sanctum, Amos and Andy, Jack Armstrong – adventure and comedy shows all of which stirred our imaginations and hearts to dreams of action - and of course, there was always music.
Besides all this there were sports. I loved listening to Yankee ball games and Ranger hockey games. My stepfather, “Pop,” was a big Yankee fan. A real treat was the Friday night fights brought to you by Gillette, a well known razor blade brand. Pop and I listened with paper and pencil in hand to record the punches thrown to see if we could pick the winner if the fight went to a decision. Most times we were right. Boxing was popular in my growing up days. I had my own set of boxing gloves and would often get together with my friends to have our own boxing matches. My favorite boxer was Willie Pep.
These are my memories from wonderful radio days before television. Then, in the early nineteen fifties my grandmother C.G. purchased a television set and if we were good we were allowed over to watch. When were we ever bad?