When I was young we lived in a three-bedroom home on Madison Avenue. Life was great and extremely simple. Our main and probably only source of entertainment was a large radio that stood on its own in the living room. This was before a television was in our home.
There were four or five AM stations, and their newsmen and disc jockeys were well-known. The stations were connected to networks like television stations are today. Local news and music were aired during the daytime, network shows in the evenings and weekends along with sporting events.
I listened to show like “The Lone Ranger,” “Superman” and “Roy Rogers.” I sat on the couch near the radio, closed my eyes and listened to my heroes save the day. Their voices were locked into my brain. I remember my folks telling stories about me altering my voice to sound like Roy Rogers, my hero.
Soap operas also got their start on radio and were aired in the early afternoon before children were home from school. I remember my grandmother having an afternoon break to listen to her shows.
Comedy, drama, detective, music, quiz and adventure shows dominated the evening schedule. One of my parents’ favorite was “The Jack Benny Show.” The show also featured Rochester, Dennis Day, Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris and Don Wilson.
Many of these wonderful shows were transformed into television programs a few years later. It was so cool to see Clark Kent dash into a phone booth and in a few seconds emerge and fly away as Superman. I often wondered about the business suit he left behind in his rush to save Lois lane.
I think we had a 16-inch black-and-white console television with some interesting rabbit ears sitting on top of the set. Things went along smoothly until the invention of color television. Then it seemed to start all over again.
I remember my mother directing her friends to the newly opened Recommended TV Sales and Service at Thompson Road and Madison. We were friends of the Ake family, and Joe Ake had just started the business. He sold a colored TV to my folks at cost because of the amount of business my mom sent his way.
A few months ago I discovered “The Jack Benny” television show being broadcast over JLTV. I have been recording it and watching it when I have time. Just last week I watched an episode that featured Nat King Cole. It was wonderful.
I also record “The Lone Ranger” and “Roy Rogers” and occasionally watch them. I might just go watch an episode.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.