Actually I grew up sometimes standing next to our big console radio. From about age eight to early teen our family had a Sears console radio and it was a flip-top dark mahogany thing about the size of a Maytag automatic washer but without hot and cold running water. It sat in our little living room next to the hall door and for a long while the center of our entertainment. So down in the flip-top compartment was the three speed record player. The control panel was in front of the record player compartment with four dial knobs. One knob was the on-off volume. The next was a radio/player selector. The next was a tone knob. The last operated the tuning dial. On either side of the knobs were fabric grills with smallish speakers. In the middle between the speakers was the AM dial. Had no FM.
Interesting enough, down below where most people would place records and albums was a full set of World Encyclopedias instead. So my mom did give-in to the door to door Encyclopedia salesman after all. At lease for a long while the only record we possessed was a little yellow Walt Disney record with Pinocchio singing “There are no strings on me.”
But anyway, being a skinny Okie kid and what I liked about our Sears console the heat that radiated out from the back panel warmish glow of the crystalline vacuum tubes. That radiant heat source kept me warm on coltish L A winter mornings. Mornings that got down to about 50-degrees. Burr! However, our only house real heating source was from a single gas heater in the hollow of our fake fireplace in the living room. I was not certified to stick a lit match in the gas heater. A bigger person had to do that. In the mean time the radio radiant heat would do. The last time I saw this big wooden radio it was out in my dad’s garage collecting dust and rotting away. Today it would be a most sought after antique.
But anyway, most school day evenings I would be sitting on the living room floor in front of our Sears console radio with legs crossed like a meditating Yogi with an opened encyclopedia in my lap. All while looking at pictures of old steam engine trains and an illustration of the Empire State Building with the Queen Mary posed vertical as a comparison of height and length. Most interesting. Concurrently I would be listening to either the Lone Ranger or Dragnet on the radio. Dum-dee-dum-dum. Other nights I would be listening to either The Great Gildersleeve or Sky King. Plus listening to ‘You Bet Your Life” with host Groucho Marx. “Say the secret word and win fifty-bucks.” Or fearfully listening to Inner Sanctum Mystery Theater with its slowly opening creaking door. Most scary. Some nights there would be the Jack Benny show and the Bing Crosby show. Both recorded on a large long playing red acetate wax disk and recorded before a live studio audience. Then there was the most loved Fibber McGee and Molly sponsored by Johnson Wax and also performed before a live studio audience. One Man’s Family, Henry Aldridge, George Burns and Gracie Allen sponsored by Maxwell Coffee, and My Favorite Husband with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. And the list of radio programs back then were almost endless. All tied up in a big red bow called “The Golden Age of Radio.” This discussion will continue at a later date. Please come back.