April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Duck Ponderings: A birthday by the radio dial

I was apparently not hearing my cell phone. Mom was trying to get in contact with me. I eventually found out through my wife and a daughter. She had called both of them wondering why I was not answering my phone. It was important we talk.

I called hoping it was not a family emergency. As soon as I heard her voice, I determined it was not an emergency. There was a sense of excitement that seemed to be difficult for her to contain. She insisted I drive 45 minutes that evening to get with her, even if it was around her bedtime which was going to be later than usual, another hint. I wasn't about to say no!

Once arriving, she quickly greeted me at the door. While entering, I heard "Happy birthday son!"

She stood over a rather large piece of furniture with a big smile on her face. It was a 1942 wooden floor model radio, one made by General Electric.

She then asked, "Do you remember the story son?"

I responded, "It came from the estate of Grandma and Grandpa Webster. When asked if there was something I would like to have from their home, I pointed toward that radio."

Why was it my selection? Well, this wonderful piece was like the centerpiece of their dining room. My grandpa would gently rock back and forth in his rocking chair by the pot belly stove listening to the radio. There was just something about this radio that struck me as being special, special as my grandparents.

Dad and Mom placed it in our basement with the wooden TV set where it stayed for many years until Mom was talking to a dear friend who mentioned that he had a brother-in-law who actually brought old radios back to life now and then. Mom then wondered if the radio man might consider helping restore this one thinking it would be a great birthday gift for me. Even though he only worked on such projects now and then, there was no way he could turn down my mom, a lady he actually knew and respected as a child.

It was not an easy job, in particular with mice complicating matters by chewing up multiple wires. After he spent many hours of repairing and replacing parts as well as cleaning it, the radio now is in our home. The back of the case is open; thus, it is easy to examine the parts. Unlike new radios, they are big enough to be quite visible. The large metal electronic chassis with 9 tubes (each close to 3" long) and other parts, the 14" speaker, and the antenna referred to as the Dual Super Beam-A-Scope (20" tall with 8" diameter) all add to the weight and interest of the wooden cabinet to make carrying it a two man job. An antique dealer would probably say the old tag with Chicago on it as well as Lot No. 13442 and Stock No. 56 would increase the value. Then again, it is priceless to our family.

I am listening to it as I write this article. Even though it was made before FM and takes around 22 seconds to warm up before there is sound, it picks up several AM stations with much volume ability.

Needless to say, I am thinking about yesteryear and how fortunate I am to have a 1942 radio that functions quite well. I am also thinking about a mother as well as friends of the family who went out of their way to make my birthday one to always remember![[In-content Ad]]