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— The year 1945 was a great year in many ways for us.

First, World War II was over and the soldier boys were coming home. Also, all over the Pea Ridge area Carroll Electric Cooperative was working to bring electricity to the farms.

Now we had electric lights in the house, an electric pump in the well, an electric range in the kitchen, an electric water heater in the cellar and soon we would have a bathroom with heated running water in the house. But one of the grandest of the additions to our house, I thought, was our new electric radio.

Before the coming of electricity, we had always had a battery-powered radio sitting in the corner of the living room. The radio itself sat on the top shelf of a little shelf unit, and underneath, on the lower shelf was the carbattery which supplied power to the radio. I loved to listen to the radio and to play with the battery. My mother was happy for me to listen to the radio, but very unhappy about my playing around that battery, all that acid and stuff.

She would set the kitchen chairs all around the radio, like a fort, to keep me away from that battery. I remember crawling under those chairs and making my way through the maze of legs and braces to get to the radio. The only station I remember listening to on that old battery-powered radio was KWTO (Keep Watching the Ozarks) Springfield,Mo. The closest radio station to us at that time was at John Brown University at Siloam Springs, where radio was part of the college curriculum.

When electricity came to the farm, we quickly converted many things over to electricity. Not the least big change was the radio.

Our new radio was a really fine piece of furniture.

As I recall, the make was Silvertone. I don’t know for sure where we bought it, possibly from the mail-order catalog. It was a cabinet style radio, standing about three feet tall and two feet wide, quite an impressive sight in comparison to the crude look of the old battery radio and its raggedy wires. The new radio had a wide range of tuning capabilities, and by turning a certain knob we could switch it to pick up stations in Mexico and other distantplaces. We could tune in the Grand Ole Opry and other great programs like Sky King, Jack Benny and Mary and Roscoe and the Old Maxwell Car, Amos and Andy, Red Skelton, The Firestone Hour and of course we could still hear C.C. Williford doing weather reports and forecasting on KWTO. Television had not become widely available then, and would not be available around Pea Ridge until after 1950. So from 1945 to 1953, the Southwest Times-Record newspaper and our electric radio were our main connections to the outside world.

Our new radio came in a fine cardboard box. When I wasn’t listening to the radio, I found lots of ways to play with the box it came in. For example, upside down it made a pretty good hideout. Right side up it made an OK fort. I even decided to sleep in that box.

That took some persuading to get my mother to allow it. She couldn’t understand why, since I had a decent good bed, why I would want to sleep in some old cardboard box. I couldn’t explain it to her satisfaction, but I begged and pleaded for awhile and she relented. Inside that old radio box, imagination could range free. I was camping out, having a great time;

even though I was really on the floor of my bedroom.

I woke up in the middle of the night, uncomfortable. It was like the box had gotten smaller during the night.

I couldn’t stretch out my legs. So I made a hole in the side of the box to let my feet and legs stretch out.

Until then it had seemed like such a big box! I decided the box wasn’t that good for sleeping, but it served as a school, then as a firestation, a police station and then as a place to park our tricycle. You could do lots of things with a good big radio box.

It is fascinating to me today that most people don’t get very excited about radio. I still like to listen to KURM radio out of Rogers, because it is not just a music station, and it supplies many of the features that old-time radio used to supply. Another fascination is how small radios can be today. Just about everyone seems to have a cell phone, which is basically a radio with extra features added.

So, in a sense people still become excited about getting a new radio, they just don’t call them radios.

They are camera phones today - weird!

Contact Jerry Nichols by e-mail at joe369@centurytel.net, or call 621-1621.

Community, Pages 5 on 12/30/2009

Print Headline: Electric radio - and its box - were fascinating!

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