It should be no surprise that I love words, especially unusual words. Years ago I came across the word “anachronism.” I was not familiar with the term. It reminded me of the word “anarchy” but the context in which it was used made it clear that was not correct.
So, to the dictionary I went and learned the definition of “anachronism.” It means something that is misplaced in time. For instance, if I were to wear a top hat (a la Abe Lincoln) to church or a social gathering the act could be defined as an anachronism.
Over the years I have wondered if perhaps I am an anachronism.
I began working in radio in Webster City in 1966 when I was a senior in high school. My boss, G.D. Warland, was 24 years older than I and had begun his career at KCID Radio in Spencer, Iowa, in 1941. G.D. regaled me with tales of announcing Saturday night big band dances from the Roof Garden in Arnolds Park and recited a long list of the nationally famous big bands he introduced to his radio listeners – Dorsey, James, Welk… all familiar names. While I never mastered the skill of dancing (two left feet and one big butt) I imagined how fun it would have been to announce big bands from a ballroom: “From high atop the beautiful Corncob Hotel in downtown Pumpkin Center, we bring you the sweet sounds of Herrhut Jablonski and his Melodious Moravians…”
G.D. also spoke of live radio performances from the studio in Webster City during the 1950s. By the time I began working in the broadcast industry virtually all music was recorded and played from vinyl discs or magnetic tape. While I can’t carry a tune myself, how fun it would have been to produce a live music program with local talent.
My family didn’t acquire a television set until 1957 when I was 9-years-old. Before that I spent many afternoons and evenings sitting in front of the family’s RCA console radio listening to programs like The Great Gildersleeve, Jack Benny, Dragnet, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and others. Many of the great comedy and drama shows of radio’s Golden Age had ended by the mid-’50s but I got enough of the tail end of the era to regret that I never had a chance to be involved. I have an XM-Sirius satellite radio receiver in my personal car and listen often to the Radio Classics channel. In addition to getting reacquainted with some of my old radio shows I have become a big fan of “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar,” “Fibber McGee & Molly,” “Suspense,” “Escape,” “The Whistler” and others. Even the cornball “Lum and Abner” show is a fun listen.
My imagination can paint a much more vivid scene from a radio program than any television producer can show on a movie or television screen. Even modern day computerized special effects cannot outdo what I can imagine when listening to a radio show.
How much fun it would have been to produce or perform in a radio drama, mystery or comedy. Guys and gals without Hollywood good looks had a chance in radio!
There are other things from the first half of the 20th century I’d like to have experienced like attending a one-room country school and watching Captain Marvel and other serials at the movie theater on Saturday afternoons. About 20 years ago I took Amtrak from Creston to Chicago for a business meeting. Amtrak often runs late through Iowa and it did on both legs of this round-trip but it allowed me to envision what it was like to travel by train. I wish I had been around for the era of railroad travel, especially during the steam engine days.
There are many things I do not miss from that era including polio, Jim Crow, limited opportunities for women, outhouses, flooded carburetors, narrow highways with curbs and union suits. As an anachronism, however, I sometimes feel out-of-step with the practices, mores and entertainment of today.