Monday, December 07, 2015

How my parents heard about Pearl Harbor


This is a Philco Model 41-295 console radio. Seventy-four years ago, my parents listened to news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on a radio just like this.

It used 11 tubes and received AM as well as shortwave from 2.3 to 7 mc, 9 to 12 mc and 13.5 to 18 mc. It had eight pushbuttons; seven for preset AM stations and one for off-on control. It operated on 115 volts, AC only. The cabinet was a wood veneer and it stood 36 inches tall. The original price was $100. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $1,617.95 in today’s money.

I spent hours in front of our Philco console radio in the late 1940s and early ‘50s. Much of the time, it was tuned to WBAA (AM, of course. This was years before FM broadcasting), the Purdue University station in West Lafayette, Ind. We lived about 20 miles east of West Lafayette in Delphi.

One of the highlights of my day came at 5 p.m. when the Storytime Special came on the air and I got to hear a story read by the “Story Lady,” a Purdue coed, probably a radio or communications major.

I remember listening to WBAA afternoon jazz programming and wondering why they played so much stuff by the Art Van Damme Quintet. Maybe it was because he was a Dutchman from Michigan and there was, and is, a large Dutch Reformed community in Lafayette. Van Damme was considered the father of the jazz accordion.

Saturday nights, WLS in Chicago carried the National Barn Dance. One of the acts was Captain Stubby and his Buccaneers. Captain Stubby’s real name was Tom Fouts and he grew up with my mom in eastern Carroll County.

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