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Sunday, September 7, 2014


It was a big deal when Dad brought home a radio.  Woo hoo!  I know, the rest of the world had music and radio from the beginning of time, but I lived in the boonies behind cliffs.  TV and radio signals were hard to get, lost in the swirling upper atmosphere.  Richer people could get antennas and better equipment, but I had to do my own singing until I was about 10 or so.  Well, Dad sang a lot, but other than that I didn't realize how bleak my life was until the magic day of radio.

Okay, so the radio was limited and often full of static.  Strangely, polka music always came in really well with Slovenians jabbering on about something or other, probably polkas, but at some point I heard the Beatles and Herman's Hermits and my world got a lot bigger.  I walked around the Glen singing "What do you get when you fall in love?  You get enough germs to cause pneumonia!"  Which I thought was really funny and wistful wishful.  Did I mention I was about 10?

Before radio we had big vinyl disks called "records".  I played the Christmas or John Gary records as often as I liked.  Danny Kaye read me stories.  I miss him.  He put me to sleep many times with Myrtle the Turtle and Hans Christian Andersen stories.

We weren't allowed to listen to the radio if Dad was sleeping.  We also couldn't play current music unless the parents were out.  Dad thought all that was garbage except Elvis ballads.  I think I valued the radio more because we couldn't have it all the time, even when all we could get were polkas -- which must be a Cleveland thing because I can still get Slovenians talking about polkas on the radio.  Yay?  Home of Frankie Yankovic and the National Polka Hall of Fame.

...side trip to youtube.  You can listen to Yankovic here.  Dad danced me around the living room with my feet on his feet, something all dads should do with their little girls.

I keep typing wondering where the point of all these remembrances might be leading, but maybe they don't need to lead anywhere?  The music of our childhoods stays with us and maybe that's all there is to it.  It's just part of who we are in ways we're too close to see.

I grew up listening to big band WWII heroism, Viet Nam anti-war songs, and songs about innocent love, or heartbreak, and Broadway musicals.  All of those lyrics are me.  How much of what I think, or aspire to, or dream about is because of the radio?

By the time I was a teenager, rock was angry and urgent, and musicals were dead.  It's been a long time since I danced a polka.  I went back to youtube and watched a bunch of Danny Kaye things to get the #@&# polkas out of my head.  Here'sThumbelina.

I actually messed around with the radio picture a lot in PhotoShop and then decided I didn't feel like posting it.  Here's my original scribble instead because it just looks like that radio that Dad brought home and put on the top shelf, hoping to catch a radio wave.


  1. Thanks for helping me to rekindle fond memories Linda...I too danced on my Dad's feet x

  2. I just watched the Danny Kaye. Thanks for the link. I want to show the whole movie to my littles.

    We always had a radio, though no TV, and we listened a lot to an NPR station that played the really old, pre-TV radio shows. And we listened to records.

  3. Who would want to sit on a bench of Danny Kaye's ashes?? I'm glad I'm not the only one who loved him though, and glad I'm not the only one to dance on their dad's feet :) Thanks for the comments everybody!

  4. Remembering fondly when radio was actually worth listening to, especially when the new FM rock stations hit the air...

  5. I don't think we're going to get that kind of excitement back again Rand, but it's kind of fun to remember.

  6. Your mention of the Beatles and Herman's Hermits brought a wistful smile, Linda. My very first vinyl record, bought with babysitting money at age twelve (hard-earned money in my case, because I really disliked babysitting) was a Herman's Hermits album. They were so darn cute and their music *still* lifts my spirits on the rare occasion that it's played on the radio. Sad about Rock 'n Roll getting angry, isn't it?

  7. I enjoyed the innocence of early rock, but sometimes I want to hear the angry music too. I guess we can blame the Viet Nam war and drugs for it? We've always got youtube these days to remember our faves :)

  8. Hi, Linda, I've been off line a lot and I'm catching up with your blog. Your radio story is like my television story. I remember our neighbours having the first one of our street. Neighbours were invited to watch the landing on the moon.

  9. Thanks Paula! Life has definitely changed since then. My grandpa took pictures of his tv at times like that. I can just imagine how big of an event it must've been for your family and neighbors.

  10. Living in so. Cal and within the LA programming area, we had a variety of tunes to choose from...Though somehow we missed out on those polkas! Anyway, all that music still comes back to haunt us years later, good or bad. But wasn't it fun to have "your own" tunes, back in the days when an antenna was necessary to receive them? :o)

  11. The radio does seem so quaint now. I always listen to NPR when I'm at my drafting table or driving in my car. Such good company.

  12. I like listening to NPR when I'm painting and driving too. MUCH better than polkas! Though I'll admit that listening to polkas on youtube did make me think of a lot of happy things. Thanks for the comments!