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Remember When: Radio dramas

A family is shown listening to a drama on their radio in times before television was invented.

In the evenings, the family would gather around the radio, just like in “The Waltons” episodes, to listen to a drama. It might be Fibber McGee and Molly, or Amos ‘n Andy, or Henry Aldrich, or Death Valley Days, and…oh yes, The Lone Ranger. When “I Love a Mystery” came on, we turned the lights low. Bob, Willard and I curled up in our own favorite chair, and close our eyes so we could make mental pictures of the story.

Instead of seeing the drama, like on TV, there were sound effects … a car engine running, water, fire, horses’ hoofs, etc. My brother Willard learned about these when his 5th grade class visited a radio studio.

In the daytime, there were soap operas . . . Ma Perkins, Road of Life, Stella Dallas, etc. that continued stories from day to day. “Soap” because they advertised soap and “operas” because the commercials were sung. Thus, “Soap Operas.”

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Afternoons were filled with kids’ dramas like Dick Tracy and pilot Jimmie Allen. If you saved enough box tops of a certain cereal, you would get a pilot’s cap complete with goggles. In the Los Angeles area there was “Uncle Whoa Bill.” He told children where to look for their birthday presents and always had a story and a good thought for the day. If you had a small owie, you didn’t get mad or say “ouch,” you said “Whoa, Bill.” Whoa to the tears.

Once, my brother Bob connected a microphone to the radio speaker, turned the station dial to a space between stations. With a long cord, he took the mic to the boys’ bedroom. He and Willard put on a soap opera drama. The boys changed their voices for the different people in the story. Willard sang the commercials.  I was the happy housewife listening to the radio while I dusted my living room furniture, but I didn’t dust. I sat on the couch, doubled over with laughter. 

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