I would have no idea that cold November morning in 1960 that my creature of habit grandparents were feeling as disrupted from their familiar routine as I was.
Every morning while Papa studied the sports section of the NY Daily Mirror, mindlessly sprinkling Adolph’s Dietetic Salt substitute on his runny soft boiled eggs, a trail of yellow yolks predictably managing to dribble its way down his shirt, Nana habitually ambled along the frequency on the RCA plastic tabletop radio in search of a program to enliven her morning as she drank a glass of Libby’s tomato juice fortified with a sprinkling of Knox-good-for-your-nails unflavored -gelatin, and picked and poked at a dish of prunes.
That morning out of habit, Papa turned on the radio to find out what kind of weather Arthur Godfrey would promise his faithful listeners. But because it was Sunday, he would have to do without his usual weekday dose of Arthur Godfrey’s schmaltzy schmoozing. Without Godfrey’s infectious chuckle, and his folksy “Aw-shucks-who-wrote-this-stuff-getcha-some-Lipton tea,” pitches, Papa seemed strangely adrift, as if having lost his bearings.
But it was his wife who felt lost at sea.
Unnerved and abandoned, she was suffering in silence, not unlike the long, self- suffering heroines on the radio soap operas she so customarily enjoyed, and that had now unceremoniously been cancelled.
It had been just 48 hours since Black Friday, when the last of the four long running soaps aired on CBS for the last time. The suds had, once and for all, been washed aside by TV’s tidal wave. All vestiges of her beloved soap operas just faded away, as if they were ugly age spots vanished by Esoterica Crème.
My grandparents were linked to the radio in ways I would never be.
The day in day out familiarity offered continuity. Radios brief life as Americas main source of entertainment was just about over, swallowed up by Television with its voracious appetite, gulping it whole, its shows, its sponsors, and its audience.
Though their big bulky mahogany console radio with its amber dial and tuning knob the size of a ships wheel was long gone since replaced by a seventeen inch Admiral Black and white TV, radios place in their affection was never duplicated. Time… Marches on!
Turning the glowing knob and hearing that familiar click as the tubes warmed up, carried my grandmother to other places, other peoples predicaments, suffering, uncertainty and tears that made her own ordinary life seem not so bad. Though many of these soap operas were finding a second home on television, they held no interest for Nana Rose.
For my grandmother whose home was never disorderly, the radio offered no visual clutter to distract. “The pictures are better on radio,” she said.
Happy Drains Are Here Again
Mired in melancholy, she straightened up with an extra groan and turned to the task of washing the breakfast dishes without her familiar air wave companions. For the first time in thirty years “The Road to Life” was lonelier without the comfort of Young Doctor Malone or Helen Trent, her fictional friends with whom she skillfully and vicariously, navigated the emotional waters of joy and despair. Portia would have to face life by herself, just like Nana Rose.
She knew the soaps had been circling the drain for a while, but now the sense of hope, that the soaps offered, was washed down the drain.
Copyright (©) 20012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved -Excerpt From Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear family
- Little Sally’s Big Visit With Her Grandparents (envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com)
- Little Sally’s Big Visit With Her Grandparents PT II (envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com)
- Little Sally’s Big Visit With Her Grandpartents Pt III (envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com)