Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dardos in Bloom: The Way It Is, 29 January

I suppose you can do an awful lot worse than being conferred with a prize named, possibly, for a spiny fish or an Italian infantry vehicle.

Translated from the Spanish, the dardo is defined as a footlong, freshwater fish "of easy digestion," but full of spines. Never mind the logic that instructs the latter cancelling out the former.

Spotted within the Italian Army, the Dardo is a small tank---that's infantry fighting vehicle, for the politically correct eavesdropper---armed with a 25mm Oerlikon KBA automatic cannon that can shoot six hundred rounds a minute, and a pair of 7.62mm NATO machine guns in the turret.

Your correspondent would be uncertain otherwise whether to think of himself as great guns or a real prick.

But to his surprise and delight, he can think of himself as neither in the current context of Premios Dardos, the award with which he has just been conferred by fellow bloggers, "given [the customary citation-cum-notification says] for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."

I have been accused of a good many things, creativity and originality being somewhat low on the list of charges, but if someone wishes to level such charges against me now I shall have to plead no contest, take my medicine like a manperson, and thank two people for swearing out the warrants: Mr. Ivan G. Shreve, Jr., the proprietor of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, who was kind enough to serve me directly via personal e-mail; and, Ms. Jacqueline T. Flynn, the proprietress of Another Old Movie Blog, who was probably too shy to approach me so directly but did so by way of a comment on a previous entry into this journal that has now been so honoured. (She also did likewise aboard her own blog, to which I can say only that she seems to have a fetish for blushing men.)

I have acknowledged the award conferrals in the order in which they were received by me, though a portion of me cannot help wondering whether this makes this journal and its author a legitimate two-time Dardos winner. That it makes this journal and its author any sort of award winner at all is staggering enough.

The late columnist Murray Kempton once lamented that he had never been a winner of a particular journalism prize that was named for a reporter. "Murray," his dinner companion said in not-so-mild astonishment, "you've won the Pulitzer!" (Kempton did indeed win a Pulitzer, far overdue, in 1984.) "The Pulitzer is named after a publisher," Kempton replied. "I'm rooting for my friends---the reporters."

I'd like to think Mr. Kempton would understand if I say I'm beyond words over being handed any kind of award by fellows in this odd craft of the blog. The fact that I've been a professional reporter, in print, on air, and in cyberspace, is merely superfluous. Among the blog world, I'm rooting for my friends, too---the bloggers.

Which is, of course, the easy part. The Dardos rules specify that a conferee must confer the award in turn upon five fellow bloggers, and two upon whom I'd have conferred seem already to be two-time winners. (That answers an earlier question, of course, but still . . . ) But I'm going to begin by adding to the ranks of the two-timers . . .

BROADCASTELLAN (known to his friends as Harry Heuser and, if he has a dog, known to his dog as "Never mind, where's dinner?"), who never fails to instruct and delight, whether sticking a barb in the BBC's craw or sticking a guffaw afront a vintage comedy . . .

Now, for my four further conferees . . .

THE BIOSCOPE, who has the absolute audacity to blog about silent film and does an impeccable job of keeping its spirit and core alive . . .

THE ASTROS DUGOUT, probably the funniest and most fortitudinal blog you will ever read about the Houston Astros, if you're as much of a baseball nut as I . . .

WMFU's BEWARE OF THE BLOG, whose MFUs succeed in allowing shafts of vintage lost pop art of all shapes, sizes, and sounds to puncture the walls of riff and raff now dominating whatever is passing for pop art (musically, visually, otherwise) nowadays; and . . .

RAND'S ESOTERIC OTR, on which you can hear classic radio straight from the original transcription discs, ferreted out by a Randy A. Riddle, whose love for classic radio is no riddle . . . or joke.

At which point it's time to return to the business that got this journal where it came today . . .


1937---Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories, also known as just Aunt Jenny or Aunt Jenny and Spry (the shortening which sponsors the show), premieres on CBS.

The fifteen-minute series is something of a hybrid, melding a semi-serial soap opera-style program of stories with the title hostess's cooking hints and recipes. By 1939, it will be the concluding wedge of a CBS morning hour that includes three other soaps, Mary Lee Taylor, Brenda Curtis, and the redoubtable Big Sister . . . and popular enough that it bumps sales of Spry shortening to levels competitive enough to Crisco, the rival against whom Lever Brothers (which planned the show as far back as 1936) sent the product.

The installment of Aunt Jenny's Real-Life Stories that appears in the 21 September 1939 broadcasting day that survives from Washington WJSV is one of two known surviving editions of the show. The other, a soapy story about a woman who breaks an engagement over a lie about her father's death ("Marriage of Convenience"), airs 6 May 1946.

Edith Spencer plays Aunt Jenny on the air and in print promotions for the show, with Dan Seymour as annoucer Danny and Henry Boyd providing the whistling of Aunt Jenny's trademark canary. (In due course, however, Agnes Young will assume the title role.) A number of old-time radio legends appear on the show throughout its life, including Alfred Ryder (known also as Alfred Corn, who also plays Sammy on The Goldbergs and Carl Neff on Easy Aces), Helen Shields (Sylvia in Amanda of Honeymoon Hill), Ed MacDonald (Tommy Hughes, Big Town), and Nancy Kelly (The March of Time; and, as Dorothy, the 1933 NBC version of The Wizard of Oz).

Aunt Jenny's Real-Life Stories will air until 1956.

1951: PLAY BALL!---Baseball signs a six-year deal for television and radio rights for a then-formidable $6 million.

1956: CASE FILES---Indictment, based on the case files of former New York assistant district attorney, playwright, and novelist Eleazar Lipsky, premieres on CBS to enjoy a three-year old-time radio life. At least three episodes of the show will survive for future old-time radio collectors.


ADVENTURES BY MORSE: THE CITY OF THE DEAD (SYNDICATED, 1944)---In the first serial in the series, San Francisco investigators Bart Friday and Skip Turner (Elliott Lewis, David Ellis) continue helping their fathers---the mayor and the town's most prominent doctor---fight a continuing grave-robbing epidemic. Additional cast: Russell Thorson; unknown. Writer: Carlton E. Morse (also renowned as the creator-writer of One Man's Family).

MUTUAL COAST-TO-COAST: "WE JUST GOT A LITTLE MIXED UP THERE" (MUTUAL, 1945)---Announcer Jack Scanlan may confuse the opening two numbers, but there'll be no confusing the driving swing of Count Basie and his men, from the Blue Room of New York City's Hotel Lincoln. Highlights include "Together," "Just After Awhile," "On the Upbeat," "One O'Clock Jump"; soloists include Jimmy Rushing (vocal), Earle Warren (tenor saxophone, vocal), Count Basie (piano), Lester Young (tenor saxophone).

ONE MAN'S FAMILY: BOOK 82, CHAPTER 21 (NBC, 1951)---The new Harper and Barbour real estate partnership's experiencing growing pains, with Harper (Marvin Miller) questioning Clifford's (Barton Yarborough) drive until Henry (J. Anthony Smythe)---whom Harper's thinking of selling his half the business---cautions Harper not to mistake Clifford's casual style for business listlessness, while Clifford has misgivings about a successful deal. Writer: Carlton E. Morse.


1874---Owen Gibson (writer, The Gibson Family, Pulitzer Prize Plays), Portland, Maine.
1880---W.C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield; comedian-actor: frequent guest, The Chase and Sanborn Hour/The Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy Show), Philadelphia.
1902---Florence Rinard (panelist: Twenty Questions), unknown.
1915---Victor Mature (actor: Hollywood Star Playhouse), Louisville, Kentucky.
1916---Bill Lawrence (reporter: ABC), Lincoln, Nebraska.
1917---Lloyd Perryman (singer: The Sons of the Pioneers, The Roy Rogers Show), Ruth, Arkansas; John Raitt (actor-singer: MGM Musical Comedy Theater), Santa Ana, California.
1918---John Forsythe (actor: NBC Star Playhouse), Penns Grove, New Jersey.
1923---Paddy Chayevsky (writer: Theater Guild On the Air), Bronx, New York; Martin Ragaway (writer: The Abbott and Costello Show, The Milton Berle Show), unknown.


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