An entertainment miracle
“Turn on the radio and listen to the music in the air” is a phrase that became popular in the 1930s and 1940s even before electricity made its debut in the homes of farm families in Alabama.
The battery radio was the forerunner to the electrified model. My family had the good fortunate to own one. It was a table model made by Zenith, and was looked upon by us as well as our neighbors as an entertainment miracle.
Prime time was anytime us kids could talk our parents into letting us turn on the radio. We’d huddle up on the floor and wait anxiously while our father tuned in the station we wanted. Among the programs we liked the most were The Lone Ranger, Inner Sanctum and Amos and Andy. Unfortunately, the amount of listening time we received was limited to the lifetime of the battery. The only time the radio was left unattended was when our mother was listening to “Stella Dallas,” a soap opera, while she was preparing our noontime meal.
Saturday night’s Grand Ole Opry was the most popular radio show in our neck of the woods. We usually had neighbors come by to listen to the musicians, singers and comedians. Between clapping and foot stomping, we’d munch on popcorn, parched peanuts. Tea cakes and sweet milk from start to finish. Our favorite entertainers included Earl Moore, Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens.
The radio was also taken to the home of an elderly couple from time to time in order for them to hear the Grand Ole Opry performance. We’d sit quietly on their big front porch
and watch for a shooting star while listening to the music at the same time. Both were dumfounded that they could hear entertainers perform on stage from 250 miles away without seeing them in person.
How little did we all realize at the time that electricity would become a reality in homes throughout the state in our lifetimes. Likewise, radios would be as commonplace as pocket knives and we’d be inundated by electronic gadgets that make it possible for us to hear, see and play games by simply touching the face of a smart phone screen.
Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.