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My Blog

Being Entertained by Old Time Radio

Wow, what an awesome day it is starting to be.  The weather is absolutely gorgeous!  Air Conditioning has been turned off, windows wide open and ready for a busy day.  It is the easiest for me to blog in the mornings.  Everything is so fresh and new that I become inspired.  I am not sure whether my readers would agree...but at least I feel that my best work comes in the mornings. 
Yesterday, the storytelling for Labor Day went off without a hitch.  Well, for the most part...one resident kept shouting she didn't know what I was talking about...to speak up because she couldn't hear.  This went on for at least 30 minutes of the performance.  The assistants kept putting her hearing aid in her ear...but these are just the norm for me with story telling to Alzheimer's...and I told in the advanced stage floor...so I have learned to just roll with the punches.  I had lots of smiles and laughter from everyone else there.  Labor day is a tough topic for a 45 minute performance...but aside from telling how labor day began, I told the story of the ant and the grasshopper, the stone cutter, the king and a single grain of rice, the story bag, and a story about forgiveness for Rosh Hashanah.  Sometimes, finding the right stories for a performance can be harder than the performance itself. 
Now on to todays blog.  Long ago, when I was a child, some of the best entertainment came from the radio.  When I think about the imagination, I think that listening to radio talk shows helped tremendously.  There was a time when you would actually sit in from of a radio and listen to programs which were no different than stories.  The only thing needed beside the radio and electricity was your imagination.  There were amazing programs to be entertained with back then.  If you wanted comedy you may have listened to Abbott and Costello....their routine of "Who's on first" is still one of the most comedic routines ever performed.  There was Molly and Magee, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball and so many more...there were detective stories like Casey the Photographer, mysteries like The Shadow and The Whistler.  Cinnamon Bear for children and so on and so forth.  If you had never had the chance to hear these programs, they have a channel on Sirius Radio and you can hear them There are tapes and CD's available as well. 
Through the years, I have collected hundreds of these programs and when I paint, I turn them on and am entertained audibly.  It is a whole different experience than what the generation today is exposed to.  It is perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy storytelling so much.  It allows the audience to picture the story for themselves.  There are all sorts of sound effects that go on in the story so you can imagine that people are walking or running.  Glass might shatter and guns might be fired, doorbells ringing, etc.  This is done by a folle.  A folle is the person who has the script in front of him and he provides the sound effects.  His timing must be impeccable. 
In the Chicago land area, during the Christmas season, one of the theaters holds a version of It's Wonderful Life, Radio talk show style.  The actors are all in front of their microphones, the folle is behind his table which is filled with props and the show begins.  It is astounding to see the folle perform....and at the same time the actors are performing as well.  You can imagine exactly what is going on because of the wonderful use of adjectives in their performances.  We are so accustomed to the visuals, it is truly a magnificent experience to be able to use our auditory capabilities to enjoy the program.  If you are ever in the area at that time of year, I highly recommend getting tickets to see it. 
There is a troupe that performs old time radio programs as well.  One year I decided to host an event for my Red Hat Group starring the Old Radio Troupe.  It was so much fun.  They came and performed the same as they would have done it at a Radio station.  They did bits and pieces of shows recognizable to most of us in the audience.  It brought back some wonderful memories as many of us sat, some with their eyes closed and took a journey back into time.  For favors, all the attendees were given a CD of a old time radio show to take home and enjoy. 
Many of our greatest performers started their careers on Radio.  Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Agnes Moorehead, John Wayne, Eve Arden, and Red Skelton.  Perhaps for some of you...these names are not recognizable...but they were names of the greats.  They went on to have TV programs and movies. 
Today, it is simple to sit in front of a television and watch anything and everything.   Both adults and children today can use some increased brain activities.  Why not look in the Library and rent a Old Time Radio Program for a change of pace...or simply look a sight up on the computer, sit back and enjoy.  RadioLovers.com is a great site for some of the best shows.  And it is free.  There are others that you can try...some if you like you can get a subscription for a nominal fee.  You can buy some and start a collection.  Introduce your children and grandchildren to them.  Use some of those imaginary cells that having been sitting there way too long and take a trip back in time.  A time when thing were simple, and even a time when people said "and May God Bless".

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