From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I Grew Up in Radio Land

A childhood without TV



TV reception was poor, out in the Nebraska Sandhills where I grew up.The picture was snowy and the sound faded in and out. My parents decided not to waste their time and money on it.

RadioAlong with the mail, radio was our connection to the rest of the world. My parents listened to the radio news, farm market reports and weather report every morning, noon, and night.

My mother also had an informal agenda of radio shows on various stations that she enjoyed when she was working in the house.

One of Mama's morning shows was Ward Childerson on the Christian station, KJLT, of North Platte, Nebraska. He read letters from readers and played the recordings that they requested. One reason my mother especially liked his show was that a girl from our church (Carol Gurney) had married his brother.

Mama also liked Wynn Speece, the "Neighbor Lady" on WNAX radio (Yankton, South Dakota.) The Neighbor Lady talked about her family and home and things that pertained to housewives. Sometimes she had a guest in for a chat. During each broadcast, she read a recipe, very slowly, repeating each ingredient and instruction several times, so the listeners could write it down.

KRVN of Lexington, Nebraska, had the Back to the Bible Broadcast every morning at 9:00 a.m., and my mother listened if she possibly could. Back to the Bible was headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska. It had a wonderful studio choir, and it featured the conservative Christian preacher, Theodore Epp.

On Saturday mornings, Back to the Bible was aimed at youth and children. One of its attractions was the Danny Orlis serial story, read by Ord Morrow. Danny Orlis and his friends were the Christian literature equivalents of the Hardy Boys, always stumbling onto a criminal plot or getting into a scrape of some sort.

We also listened to Art Linkletter on Saturday mornings. In the last segment of the show, Art Linkletter always talked to a few children and tried to get them to say something funny -- a forerunner of "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" on TV. And on Saturday night, there was "Bohemian Band Time" on WNAX -- a half hour of accordion-dominated music.

After supper, we did dishes with Herbert W. Armstrong's "Plain Truth about Today's World News and the Prophecies of the World Tomorrow." My mom didn't agree with him, but she liked to listen to him. He gave her plenty of reasons to study the Bible.

When we could pick up KOA from Denver, we liked to listen to the children's story that was broadcast every night. There was one story about "ooo-black" that I never did get to hear all the way through. That story was always divided over two nights, and somehow we always missed the second night. When I started reading Dr. Seuss stories to my children twenty-five years later, I finally found out how the story (Bartholemew and the Oobleck) ended.

A relay tower for educational TV was built in Rock County about 1970, and they also boosted the signal of a commercial channel. We got a television set then, but I had already graduated from high school and gone to college.

To be honest, I was embarrassed about my home's lack of television when I was a teenager. When the conversation turned to television shows, I had no idea what everyone was talking about.

When I was a college student and I could watch TV cartoons every Saturday morning in the dormitory, I was disappointed in them. They weren't as funny and fascinating as I had imagined. That remains the case. A great deal of television's programming bores me, but I can nearly always find something interesting to listen to, on the radio.

Now I'm in my mid-50s, and I've decided that it's cool that I grew up with radio instead of TV. Most people my age don't remember Edward R. Murrow, Arthur Godfrey and Amos and Andy on the radio -- but I do.

2 comments:

Larry said...

Great radio memories, Genevieve! I've had some of the same feelings listening to certain NPR broadcasts in recent years, such as the Prairie Home Companion. On-the-air-recipes! These days the 'net is the easiest way to access new recipes.

I can conjure up a vivid image of a farm wife carefully copying down a radio-broadcasted recipe!

Genevieve said...

Maybe the Neighbor Lady's show was where my mom heard about "pizza pie." We certainly hadn't been to any restaurants that served pizza.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.