Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Fallout !

  • Rebekah and I were sitting here the other evening reminiscing about Christmas presents we had hoped for and received in early childhood ..... she in her native Sweden , and I in my "native" Pokiok ! Rebekah recalled a magic slate with special crayon and eraser for writing and a miniature sheepskin coat her mother's seamstress friend had sewn for her doll. As for myself .... well , visions of boardgames , firetrucks , tops , boats , capguns , bow and arrow sets , pin the tail on the donkey , checkers and Chinese checkers , the Hardy Boys , etc flashed before my eyes. Finally my mind came to rest on three items... a hatchet , my CCM bike and my beloved crystal set ....... the hatchet to satisfy the Pathfinder instincts in me , the bike to speed up trips to and from Saint Peter's School and to serve as packhorse during my paperboy days and the crystal set to bring out the techno-twinkie in me. Techno-twinkies understand and love only simple technology .... and the crystal set was beyond all doubt the simplest radio ever made.
         From what I can recollect it was during the Fall of 1946 that Tommy MacDonald and I were humming and hawing .... and hinting too ... about getting crystal sets for Christmas. Raymond Earle had got one the year before and we were "plum" envious ! Ray would tell us about all the "stuff" he could listen to at nights ... music , the Shadow and Green Hornet , etc. and we thought he was so lucky ! Although existing well before the Second World War the crystal set became quite popular along the front lines back then as a simple ,  easy-to-make radio... ( coil of copper wire , wire for antenna and cat's whisker , lead from lead pencil , earphones ) .... which allowed the troops to listen to news without being detected or giving away their positions since the crystal set could only receive but could not emit ..... and the Germans were well equipped to sniff out , pinpoint and home in on radios with emitting devices !

Anyways Christmas 1946 came along and Santa spoiled us both. Tommy and I woke up that morning to discover that our wishes had been granted. The sets we received that Christmas looked very much like the one in the above photo .... but ours were black in colour...... with earphones. Our dads strung up antennae for us soon after ,,, my father running a wire from high up in a nearby towering spruce tree to the eaves of our house ... down the side of the house and in through my upstairs bedroom window. I still remember how excited we were at hearing our Ned Landry and other local shows on CHSJ through our earphones. One night when Tommy was on a sleepover at our house .... while scratchng the graphite with the cat's whisker.....we hit the mother lode of all radio stations ... WWVA in Wheeling , West Virginia .... and fell instantly in love with country and bluegrass music , the Grand Ole Opry and Grandpa Jones singing "Good Old Mountain Dew" ... our own Hank Snow's rendition of "The Night I Stole Ole Sammy Morgan's Gin".... the words to which we got to know by heart ..... and we would often sing the songs together ..... much to our parents' amusement !

My dear friend Tommy passed away some twelve years ago and .... from what folks tell me ..... he remained an avid fan of  country music until the very end. As for myself  , well here goes......
                                                      My brother Bill runs a still on the hill

                                                      Where he runs off a gallon or two

                                                      And the buzzards in the sky get so drunk they can't fly

                                                      Just from sniffing that good old mountain dew.
I'll never forget the words to that song we heard and loved so well that night up in my room .... two inquisitive kids in the dark ( we had no electricity upstairs) , two flashlights and a crystal set ...... way back in time before life got complicated !!

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