Press-Republican

Columns

April 14, 2013

Not as many whistlers these days

The late Chester O. “Chet” Bosworth was a dear and wonderful man. He was the reason thousands of people in this area turned their radios on each morning.

He called himself “Your Happy Whistler,” and he would prove it by whistling regularly each time his theme song played. Remember the title, “When You’re Smiling”? And when Chet smiled, the whole world smiled with him, just like in the song.

His alter ego was Miss Lonely Hearts, who allowed her wet dog to shake all over the control room. Her musical saw rendition of the “Anniversary Song” was “excruciatingly good,” to use Chet’s words. That’s why it was so adorable. To this day, many people insist that she was a real person with a real dog and a real saw. Chet made the sound of the saw with his lips, whistling with wonderful saw-like vibrato.

He’s been gone for many years but will never be forgotten. I still dream of radio at least five nights every week, and the Happy Whistler makes frequent appearances. Like the chicken and the egg, I don’t know if Chet began calling himself “The Happy Whistler” prior to 1956, when a guy named Don Robertson recorded a top 10 song entitled “The Happy Whistler.” It doesn’t really matter, but to my Little mind, one thing leads to another.

Whatever happened to whistling? Hardly anyone whistles either publicly or privately these days. I’ve read the most hateful blog entries from people who say things like, “Whenever I hear someone whistling, I have feelings of homicide.” To me, that’s a sad commentary.

I love to whistle, but with old lips and some teeth that aren’t original, my pucker just ain’t what it used to be. Kaye and I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to sit on our back deck and do our best whistling rendition of bird calls. Are they really answering us, or is it only wishful whistling?

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