Dick's Blog

“Radio Nights”, Chapter 28 of “Inside and Outside: Messages of Hope from a Lifelong Hiker and Depression Survivor”

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IMAGES FROM OLD TIME RADIO CONJURED UP IN MY MIND

Welcome back to my free memoirs. You can access all the chapters in my first memoir, “Hiking Out”, and all chapters posted to date of my second memoir, “Inside and Outside”, by going to my BLOG and clicking on the appropriate book title at dicksederquist.com  

This Week, “Radio Nights”, Chapter 28 of “Inside and Outside” (listeners of the 1938 Orson Wells’ radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” were convinced that New Jersey was being invaded by Martians)  

Next Week, “Quiet Places”, Chapter 29 of “Inside and Outside” (the soft chorus and the occasional nod from one head to another)

Update:

My attached sketch is the kind of images I conjured up in my mind when I heard a radio play as a child in my darkened room under the covers. Do kids imagine anymore or do they just replay what they have seen on television or YouTube? Sometimes, I’m lying in bed, holding my book but with my eyes closed. My wife says, “I suppose you are reading the back of your eyelids again.” I am, and the pictures are beautiful. The old radio plays (I’m dating myself) taught me how to see without vision, how to paint pictures with words. Kids are really lucky when they have parents who read to them or tell them bedtime stories. They are experiencing more than the words. That is the closest they will ever get to what I experienced listening to old time radio.

Radio Nights

H. G. Wells, an Englishman who lived between 1866 and 1946, wrote the most fantastic stories. Much of his material and the work of more contemporary science fiction writers were adapted for plays in the golden age of radio. Between 1945 and 1955, in the waning years of this period, the weekday radio plays started about 7 PM and continued to about 10 PM . The early half hour programs like Baby Snooks, and Fibber Magee and Molly, were followed by programs more somber and thrilling, much of it science fiction. I remember programs like Dimension X, X Minus 1, The Mysterious Traveler, and I Love a Mystery. Those plays were broadcast in living color, Dolby Sound, and 3-D, all projected and recorded on my mind’s silver screen. My darkened room, twin bed and radio were my escape vehicle to the stars, my luge and Olympic bobsled run. Usually, during I Love a Mystery, the last radio play of the evening, I would be ending my evening’s ride, drifting in and out of my own mysterious reveries.

Today’s television and movie special effects can’t compete with the radio-induced visions of my youth. Television and movie screens are typically filled with thousands of frenetic images every minute, a cacophony of digitally produced stimulation, feeding the insatiable hunger of increasingly bored audiences. Radio produced an almost seductive focusing effect, creating insightful thoughts, intimate close ups and a growing anticipation and apprehension of the story’s unfolding climax.

Last week at my class on creativity, someone’s casual comment about radio mysteries initiated a vivid flashback. Lying there in my bed, with my head under the covers, I was listening to a radio play of The Crystal Egg. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that this was a short story written by H. G. Wells. The twist of the story was that aliens were observing us here on Earth through viewing devices disguised as benign crystal eggs, somehow transported here from Mars. An observer here on Earth, who came into possession of one of these artifacts, could see life on Mars, while an alien observer on Mars, in possession of the egg’s twin, could see life here on Earth. We were being observed for future invasion. This short story probably preceded Well’s novel War of the Worlds, which was Americanized and made famous in Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater of the Air broadcast, the night before Halloween in 1938, the year I was born. Even though disclaimers were made during the broadcast, late listeners were convinced that New Jersey was being invaded by Martians.

Other radio plays were imprinted on my mind, the plots still running through my head to this day. Often, I was surprised as an adult to come across those same themes when reading anthologies of classic science fiction short stories. Those authors had passed on their legacy and made a lasting impression on a very young mind. It would affect my life, my career choice, and my constant wonderment of the mysteries of our universe. 

Next Week, “Quiet Places”, Chapter 29 of “Inside and Outside” (the soft chorus and the occasional nod from one head to another)

Dick Sederquist is a retired engineer, engineering consultant, writer, author, hiker, motivational speaker and cancer and depression survivor. Dick suffered an emotional breakdown 35 years ago, realizing that he had been depressed all his life. That started his long journey back to mental health and happiness. Dick writes motivational and inspirational nonfiction short stories and essays for general audiences on many topics including life, family, humor, spirituality, nature, science, his volunteer prison experiences, hiking and travel adventures, depression, overcoming adversity, and what the author refers to as “home improvement”, healing the mind and body we live in. Dick and his wife have been married 50 years; have two grown children and four grandchildren, all part of a close-knit, active, caring and loving family. The whole family believes that the greatest gift in life is helping others.

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