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Early Radios and Programs

[Indicate additions made to the article]

I was very young when we had our first radio. It was powered by a battery. If I remember right, my father put it together. It had earphones but the voices did not come in very clearly. It took a lot of turning of the dials just to get anything. [Possibly the fact that the house was at the foot of a hill did not help the reception.] There was a lot of static. Only one person could listen at a time.

The next radio I remember was a factory made table model. We could all listen to it together.  It was hooked up to a car battery with a wire going out through a small hole in the wall. It still squeaked and squawked when the dials were turned and sometimes the static was too bad to even hear the programs.

woman radio

The next radio was a used floor model, also battery operated. One day during a thunderstorm the lightening struck the battery. Edith was nearby playing the piano and a spark hit her on the arm.

The radio I remember best was also a used floor model but it was powered by electricity. It was a great improvement over the previous models.

old radio

old radio

As a young girl I listened to  several programs, some weekly, some daily. Particular advertisements stand out, as well. One was the Kellogg’s singing lady who came on the air just before supper. She would begin by singing a commercial in rhyme. Part of it went:
‘‘Kellogg’s Cornflakes in a big bowl,
We’ll all be merry as Old King Cole’’.
Then she would tell a story, changing her voice for the different parts. Many a child’s well known story was brought to life for me by this lady.

Little Orphan Annie with Daddy Warbucks and all Annie’s adventures was also a favourite program. But what child could resist getting excited when the theme song for The Lone Ranger came on! His ‘‘Hi Ho! Silver!’’ echoes along memory’s lane down through the years. The Lone Ranger and his Indian friend, Tonto, had exciting things happening to them each week. I did not need colour television, my imagination did a wonderful job of conjuring up mental pictures.

Another program for children was Little Players of the Air. Our next door neighbour, Fred Ball, knew the director of the group.  One time I was invited to spend a week in Montreal with the Balls. Mr. Ball obtained a pass to go to the studio and watch them perform. The children were dressed to represent their characters in the story but they read the script while grouped around the microphone. Something was lost for me. From then on, reality won over imagination whenever I listened to that program.

There was an afternoon program called, The H.C.B. Club. Their motto was ‘‘Health makes Colonels Brave’’. It was an adventure series. They offered a badge and a certificate to become a member of the club. I sent for the shield shaped badge with its H.B.C. letters on it. Two of my pals and I told our classmates that it was our special badge with the initials representing our family names, Hannah, Copping and Barrie.

We listened each noon to the Farm Show and followed with interest the activities of the farm family, the Craigs. [The actual title was “The Craigs of Briarwood Farm” produced by CBC Radio] Some years later my husband and I saw them at the International Ploughing Match. None of them looked as I had imagined them.


In the afternoons my mother liked to listen to  Ma Perkins and how she ran her late husband’s lumber yard business. [This was particularly entertaining to Helen’s mother as her husband, Helen’s father, also owned a sawmill and lumber yard.]

In the evenings my father liked to listen to Fibber Magee and Molly, Amos and Andy, George Burns and Gracie Allen, as well as The Jack Benny Show.

Other drama programs through the years were, The Lux Radio Theatre, and Inner Sanctum. The latter came on with a very squeaky door being slowly opened making shivers run up and down my spine.

old radio

The Radio Theatre on Times Square New York was another evening show. Don Ameche was the master of ceremonies. Their product was Italian Balm [Campana Italian Balm "Best lotion for busy hands"] which my mother used to keep her hands soft.

One Man’s Family was the story of Jack Barbour and his family.  [According to Wikipedia it was about Henry Barbour. Jack was the youngest son.]
They even printed a photo album of the supposed ‘‘family events’’. My sister, Edith, sent for a copy of the album. Of course it was printed in black and white and contained ‘‘family’’ photos as well as supposed copies of newspaper clippings about the family.


[One Man's Family, an American radiosoap opera, was heard for almost three decades (1932 to 1959). It was the longest running uninterrupted serial in the history of American radio.]

Other programs were Major Bowes Amateur Hour where hopefuls vied for a talent scout’s attention, and the ventroloquist, Edgar Bergen with

How could I forget the hauntingly beautiful strains of the  Wayne King orchestra? ‘The Waltz King always came on with ‘‘The Waltz You Saved for Me’’.

If you felt like more lively dancing, Don Messer and His Islanders soon got your feet tapping. They had a style of fiddling all their own. Charlie Chamberlain and Marg Osborne provided the vocals. [ taken from Canadian Encyclopedia: Old-time music group, the most popular in Canada during the mid-20th century, largely on the basis of its CBC radio and TV series. It was formed in 1939 for CFCY radio in Charlottetown by the fiddler Don Messer. The show won a wide audience, and its cancellation in 1969 brought many complaints from viewers and raised questions in the House of Commons.]
OLD RADIO his dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. [This latter also went on to have a television production that played in the afternoons]
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