Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Late night radio

We were a traveling family, chasing jobs and dreams all over the country while home remained Mississippi and Kentucky. After 9 years--home is Maine--for the first time in my life where I live feels like home. But for all those growing up years, we would travel from where we lived to either Mississippi or Kentucky for holidays. The summer was mostly spent in Kentucky but we would also travel to Mississippi for a few weeks each August--August in Mississippi, now there's a treat.

The Thanksgiving trips, when time was of the essence, are the ones that I am thinking of today. It was difficult getting from Massachusetts, where we lived at the time, to Kentucky and back in just a few days. Mom was a teacher and, of course, my brother and I were in school. We would get out of school at noon on Wednesday and Dad would pick us all up with the station wagon packed and we would hit the road. In those days, I don't think we even had seat belts and so Brother and I would bounce around in the back seat or the back of the station wagon. We carried our food with us and only made brief stops for gas. When it got dark, Dad would pull over and put down the back seat and make a bed out of mats and blankets we had brought from home. We were supposed to lie down and sleep while Mom and Dad drove through the night. Usually, though, at least in my memory, I would either hang over the seat and talk to my father or sit up front with him while Mom and Brother slept.

As we drove the late night highways, Dad would tell stories about where we were going and we would listen to the radio. I loved those crackly far-away stations where I could just imagine other lives and other places. I still love the radio at night when I am driving--Baseball, Prairie Home Companion and Country Music are my first listening choices--but just about anything helps to pass the miles.

On Youtube, I found this video .

"I Watched It All (On My Radio)" by Lionel Cartwright (Don Schlitz/Lionel Cartwright)

I had a six transistor when I was a kid
Under my pillow I kept it hid
When the lights went out, and no one could see
Over the airwaves the world came to me

I'd go through the stations 'til I found a game
I knew how they played by the sounds of their names
The sluggers hit homers, and those pitchers threw smoke
And I watched it all on my radio

At the crack of the bat, I knew how far it'd go
And I watched it all on my radio
I watched it all on my radio

When the ballgame was over, the wrapup complete
I'd search through the static 'til I found a beat
The Beatles and Creedence, the Stones and the Byrds
You should have seen all the groups that I heard

And on Saturday night when the skies were all clear
A station from Nashville sometimes would appear
WSM With steel guitars and soft Southern twang
The stars of the Grand Ole Opry would sing

And I had a seat on the very front row
And I watched it all on my radio
I watched it all on my radio

And 'round about midnight some preacher came on
To tell me what's right, to tell me what's wrong
And there was a test at the sound of the beep
'It was only a test' the voice would repeat
And the National Anthem would sing me to sleep


The Texican said...

Wow. Now you've done it. Gone and stirred all those memories from the fifties and sixties. Great post. Lots of static and AM radio went hand in hand. The great border blaster stations like XERF Ciudad Acuna, MX broadcasting through the night with 250,000 watts. Featuring Bob Smith, aka "Wolfman Jack" and Bill Mack later of WBAP 100,000 watt fame. Who hasn't parked behind the Frost Top for a little smooching while listening to some old time Rock and Roll on KAAY in Little Rock, AR?

Beth said...

Glad to be used as a pensieve (reference to Harry Potter) and am looking forward to reading whatever comes of it!

RuthieJ said...

Hey Beth,
I remember listening to that song too from K-Double A-Y in Little Rock, AR laying in bed on those hot, humid summer nights when I was a little kid and we didn't have air conditioning at home.
Wow....great memories.

P.S. I tagged you for the six-word memoir. If you want to try it, check over at my blog for more info!