The Radio



While reading The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk, I came across the description of Admiral Pug Henry rising from bed. It was 1939 and his first day on his new job – American Naval Attaché in Berlin, Germany.

Hitler had invaded Poland, so the first thing he did was switch on the radio for some news and wait impatiently for it to warm up.

The description struck a nerve, sending me hurtling back nearly 60 years. The experience I was recalling wasn’t nearly so important as Pub’s, but for a 13-year-old it seemed rather critical.

My grandfather had a new crop of Hampshire pigs. Nearly 400 of them. The feed mill had delivered several tons of a feed supplement, all in colorful 50 pound paper bags. My job was to make certain it was properly rationed. When I was finished the bags were to be burned. However, in the process of getting the job done I’d spotted a coupon on the back of each one. Before setting them afire I paused to see what they were offering. A dozen or so prizes were listed but as is always the case, an astounding number of points were required, especially the one that interested me most – a white Arvin table radio.

My first reaction was that earning the radio was impossible. on second tought, however, Grandpa would be purchasing additional tons of this supplement. There was a chance, so I began clipping them. By early winter my stash filled a Wolverine shoe box and there were enough points to fetch my Arvin radio.

I mailed the box to a Chicago address as instructed, and then impatiently waited the six weeks.

The house in which I lived was old, as were the people who called it home. Heat was provided by a single living room fireplace. And there were two closed doors between it and my bedroom. Before the six-week waiting period expired I had moved my bed into the basement. It was just as well. They would it have not appreciated the Grand Ole Opry or The Louisiana Hayride nearly as much as I did.

Three years later I enlisted in the air force. When I returned to the farm to collect my stuff the radio was gone, but not the memories of those joyful Saturday nights listening to Web Pierce, Earnest Tubb, Red Foley, and the voices of many others.