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Marg-ins - The Way It Was

POSTED October 5, 2010 11:17 p.m.
Years ago, in another lifetime, October would be a month when I would be pounding a keyboard, getting pages and pages of copy ready … not for publication in a newspaper, but writing the annual Halloween production at the radio station I worked for at the time. For those of you who keep up with my life outside the newspaper walls through my column, last month I dealt with my family’s move to a new (to us) house and some ‘finds’ unearthed through that event have prompted this month’s topic.
Let me first digress for an update: the white and lavender tennis shoes that gave me so much trouble last month have been cleared of whatever crawling, biting creature that temporarily made my left shoe its home. I now wear them, still cautiously and not every day, but they have made a reappearance with no ill effects on my health.
So, back to the move. Little by little the boxes in the garage are being gone through and one of the unpacked treasures was a collection of my old time radio shows. I am a fan of the shows from the 1930s, ‘40s and beyond, science fiction shows like ‘Dimension X’ and crime dramas like ‘Casey, Crime Photographer’ along with the traditional comedies like ‘Burns and Allen’ and ‘Fibber McGee and Molly.’ The fascination with old time radio grew out of the fact that actors around a microphone, with a sound effects crew and live musicians, could transport you to a totally different world. I loved the concept and the fact that, unlike TV, you had to create the scene and use your imagination to determine what the characters looked like.
In this box of true old time radio tapes were several that were produced when I worked for a radio station in upstate New York. As I was remembering the various productions, which stories I liked the best, I put one in the tape player and my husband and I just got quiet and listened for a few minutes. Well, he listened. I started reciting the lines with the ‘actors’ on the tape. Fairly well, considering we’re talking about these radio shows being done some 20-plus years ago. Like I said, another lifetime. My husband was asking a question about something and I knew that my part was coming up so I ‘shushed’ him – and then I came on the tape with the voice of an elderly woman, greeting unexpected visitors to a lighthouse that I was caretaker of in the play.
It’s funny to listen to them now. We did an admirable job, taking a bunch of disc jockeys, newscasters (me), advertising sales reps and office personnel to act out a spooky Halloween drama. Obviously (and thankfully) we didn’t do them live, like old time radio, but after hours of ‘take two’ and then doing some cutting and splicing later, it was a decent production. They got popular enough to do a second show on April Fool’s Day after the first couple of Halloween shows so we started presenting two different plays a year. What’s a little more writing when you do it for a living anyway?
Moving also brings up lots of memories you don’t anticipate, as you go through the collected items of your life, and the lives of those who, over the years, have become part of yours, including my two inherited boys.
We saved our oldest son’s ‘State Report’ — which I think was from fifth grade — because he chose to do it on New York, which is where I am originally from. My vivid memory of that report is helping him finish it up on a Sunday and him drawing maple leaves and the outline of the state in a rush to get it turned in on time. Our middle son has always been very artistic and he went through a phase of loving the ‘Captain Underpants’ series of books – he drew a cover of one of them that rivals the original.
We have one of those outline drawings of our youngest, our daughter, from preschool that I swear must have been done by another child — or she was continually moving around on the big sheet of paper — because there is no way she was as wide as the outline shows.
There are still things to be done to ‘settle in’ to the new house, such as getting the TV service hooked up. I just haven’t bothered and my husband’s “I’m taking care of that today” declaration three weeks ago still hasn’t come to fruition. But I’ve finished the 500-plus page book I was reading, so maybe this week I’ll call and get the TV service turned on.
Or maybe I’ll just start another book. Or listen to an old time radio show …

Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at mjackson@escalontimes.com or by calling 847-3021.
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