Just turning the radio on

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

On The Way

By Olivia Fowler

There wasn’t a television in my grandmama’s house. So back in the olden days when we were children, we weren’t exposed to Captain Kangaroo. Instead, after supper and before bedtime we’d all join Grandmama in the sitting room.

In winter we’d gather around the big kerosene heater on the old fireplace hearth and sit entranced listening to the radio.

She had a big old upright Emerson. I thought it was a magic box.

And I also believed she had control of what shows came on. In my mind she was all-powerful. I thought she could turn the magic knob and instantly have access to the greater world outside the confines of the farm and the people who worked on it.

In the evening we heard the voices of those on One Man’s Family and Fibber McGee and Molly. Also, Arthur Godfrey, Jack Benny and music programs from places we’d never heard of.

During the day the radio sat against the wall, only turned on for certain programs.

Grandmama listened to Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks. I loved their jingle promoting the use of Tube Rose Snuff and still remember the lyrics.

“If your snuff’s too strong it’s wrong, Get Tube Rose, Get Tube Rose. It makes your life one happy song, Get Tube Rose, Mild Tube Rose.”

Nobody on the whole place used Tube Rose Snuff, but we all enjoyed the song.

Another important program we listened to everyday at lunch was the Farm Report. It began at noon and featured farm prices on corn, grain, hogs and other important products.

They also broadcast a jingle advertising fertilizer that started out with the phrase, “Ring the bell with ANL, genuine Arcadian ANL. Watch your crops get up and grow, come on crops, get up and grow! Ring the bell with ANL, genuine Arcadian ANL, ANL, ANL.”

They’d ring a bell to accompany it, and a perky soprano would sing with enthusiasm. We loved it.

Then they’d read the obituaries out, always sponsored by McDougald Funeral Home. We all kept very quiet during this, because the details were of utmost importance. If it was somebody grandmama knew, it meant she’d be making a cake or frying a chicken to take to the home of the bereaved.

We had no telephone, so if we missed the noon announcements it would be days before we heard who had died, reported in the local weekly paper.

Grandmama didn’t depend entirely on the radio for entertainment. She read everything she could get her hands on, as did mama. And they both read to us.

One of the sweetest childhood memories I have are of one of these beloved women sitting in a rocker with a lamp close by, reading aloud from a favorite book with a worn cover.

Although grandmama didn’t have a television, she had everything else we needed. I always feel very lucky to have known her.