March 4, 2012

Car-radio memories recollected

When I mention listening to a car radio, what kinds of mental images do you conjure up? Don your thinking cap, and take a radio ride down memory lane.

When I was 5, my dad owned a V-12 Lincoln-Zephyr. Leaving water in the radiator in winter led to a cracked block, and the car sat by our driveway. I must ask my older brother Jim if it had a radio. I honestly can't picture one.

There was a 1928 Packard in which we took many trips to New York City visiting the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Empire State Building, Radio City, Hayden Planetarium and my father's missions in Harlem and China Town. With our family and all the friends we could pack into that big car, there was no need to use a radio for entertainment. We provided our own. Did it have a radio? Not a clue.

Later, we had a '39 Chevy sedan. Again, listening to the radio while traveling was never a priority, so whether or not that car had one shall also remain a mystery.

When I was 13, my dad bought his first ever new car — a 1950 Ford, black in color. Yes, it had a radio, and I turned it on whenever I hopped into the passenger's seat. We listened to WMSA 1340 in Massena, and I loved the hometown feeling it gave me. The announcers seemed like family friends, and the songs they played introduced me to the popular hits of the day. I quickly learned the words to Nat "King" Cole's "Mona Lisa," "Tennessee Waltz" and all the rest. My mom and dad only liked religious music, so I was forced to keep the volume down low while we were driving.

In the early '50s when I attended the old Moira High School, my dad bought a Buick Century, and I thought that was the neatest thing on wheels. It had a fabulous radio, and I listened often. It was my job to ring the church bell at the Moira church every Sunday morning. While my father preached fire and brimstone, I would be outside in that Buick with the radio blaring gospel quartets such as the Statesmen singing great old spirituals. At other times after I got my license, I would ride around with my friends and listen to WICY in Malone.

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