Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Shadow Knows

I was fortunate enough to grow up at a time before television, video games, or Facebook.  What we had was radio, Parcheesi, face-to-face conversation, and books that came from the library.  As an added benefit, I was essentially raised as an only child of older parents in a neighborhood without many in my age group.  I learned early on to be comfortable in my own company.  This combination of factors required the development of imagination.  It was surprising, and sometimes disappointing, to see the real faces of actors I'd known only by their voice on the radio; not always as I'd imagined at all.  It wasn't just me, either.  My parents had lengthy debates on whether the lead singer of the Ink Spots was male or female, especially when they sang, "If I Didn't Care."  It turned out that Bill Kenny had a beautiful falsetto.  Our radio was half the size of a refrigerator, a combination piece as the top opened to reveal a record player (78s, of course).  We listened to Bob Hope, Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny, The Lone Ranger, Burns and Allen, dramatic performances by big-name stars of the day, and my favorites, the mysteries.  Suspense, Mystery Theater, The Whistler, Inner Sanctum (with the creaking door), and The Shadow.  "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows."  Sitting on the floor in front of the radio with only the light of the dials...oooh, I can still feel the shivers.  Radio was interactive entertainment.  It required audience participation as we conjured pictures, assisted by sound effects, as the stories were narrated by men with deep, mellifluous voices.

And what does any of this have to do with the farm?  I think of it often down in the barn when I might wonder what time it is or how long the milking is taking.  I can get a pretty accurate idea when I look for the square of light from the doorway and see how far it has moved down the wall as the sun moves across the sky.  The Shadow Knows.

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

Oh man, this was a great blog! I was kind of on the cusp of the radio era, but commercial television and I were toddlers at about the same time, so by the time my childhood lifestyle (in school or outdoors playing) allowed for any late afternoon television, the Mickey Mouse Club became my "sitting on the floor in front of it" entertainment. But..."the Shadow Knows" is most definitely a phrase that can still be heard in THIS household!!