Old time radio not only broadcast comedies, detective shows, thrillers and music programs, but also broadcast information programming like Biography In Sound, which consisted of one hour-long broadcasts about famous politicians and personalities in history.The show was broadcast from 1954-1958.
For instance you can listen to shows featuring the life of Babe Ruth, then listen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt life story. Right now I have a Connie Mack program lined up in my MP3 player to play.
Last week I listened to story of Ernie Pyle the war correspondent, who lived with American troops mostly in the European theater. The broadcast features people who remember him as a kid and as an adult.
The list of shows represents a large spectrum of authors, presidents, entertainers and even the elderly painter Grandma Moses.
Readers can view the list of show at: http://www.archive.org/details/BiographiesInSound
Cavalcade of America was the longest running historical old-time radio show. It ran from 1935-1953. 741 episodes of the shows are available for purchase at otrcat.com
If you would rather just listen to a few free shows online you can enjoy listening to episodes like Here Is Your War, with James Gleason portraying war correspondent Ernie Pyle and telling the story of the American soldier in combat.
The list of shows at archive.org gives an idea of how many different topics are covered in the show that ran 18 years.
Mister President is a drama in which Edward Arnold portrayed a different president each week. The show ran from 1947-1953. Listeners asked to guess which president was being represented in each episode. Almost all the presidents in the series were in office in the 18th and 19th centuries.
I listened to the President James Polk episode last week and thoroughly enjoyed Arnold’s portrayal of President Polk.
Archive.org has this list of free shows to listen to. The shows can be downloaded, then uploaded into an MP3 player:
The photo above makes me wonder what these soldiers were thinking, before leaving the landing craft on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Some of them would be dead minutes later, as they came under intense German gunfire from beyond the beach. They could see their fellow soldiers being shot, before they even left the landing craft.
I saw a PBS program about veterans returning to Normandy, France and telling their stories of what they experienced that day. One soldier was helping wounded soldiers, but then was hit himself several times. He had just told another soldier that he was too weak to help with the wounded soldiers and at that moment the other soldier was hit by a bullet that went in one side of his head and exited on the other side.
He assumed the soldier had died, but he encountered him at an Army reunion later and saw the man and his wife there. He told him that he thought he was dead and the other soldier thought the other soldier was dead. So both soldiers, had thought the other soldier was dead, when in fact both had survived their wounds from D-Day.
A 18 year old soldier on D-Day would be 86 years old today. The 70th anniversary of D-Day will be held on June 6, 2014. Any soldier that was 30 or older that day, probably would have died by that date.
Even though President Roosevelt had declared war on Germany on December 8 of 1941, it would be two-and-a- half years before American forces entered the European theater.
The French civilians on the program today, are still thankful for the Americans freeing them from German rule. They spoke of passing the torch to each generation of the French people, to let them know that the American soldiers, were the reason that they regained their freedom.
Hitler’s harebrained military plans, enabled the Americans to gain inroads to other French cities, since he had 157 divisions on the Russian front, while having only 59 in France.
13,000 American paratroopers were dropped from the sky, as part of the D-Day invasion, but the paratroopers were very fragmented and only 2,500 of them had joined up with their units, 24 hours after being dropped. One of the veterans on the PBS special said they wrapped up dead American paratroopers in their parachutes and buried them.
The allied forces were outnumbered 380,000 to 175,000 but still they still won the Battle of Normandy. Allied casualties at Normandy totaled close to 10,000 with 2,500 making the ultimate sacrifice for the allied forces.
Words can’t express our gratitude for the soldiers, who stepped out of their landing craft, facing death immediately and those that survived the onslaught at the beach, as they began their trek through France, as they liberated the French people, from the clutches of Adolf Hitler.
Paul Albert Anka was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on July 30, 1941. He will be 70 on his birthday which is hard to believe. It seems like only yesterday I was listening to him sing Diana, You Are My Destiny, Put Your Head on My Shoulder and Lonely Boy. Lonely Boy would be his last No.1 hit until he hit No.1 again in 1974 with You’re Having My Baby and his last No.1 in 1975 with Times of Your Life.
Paul Anka singing a medley of his hits including the title song for The Longest Day.
Paul Anka singing his classic composition My Way.
His best known song My Way a song he wrote for Frank Sinatra. He wrote English words for the song, which is one of the most sung songs today.
He was married to Anne Zogheb from 1963 to 2000 and one of his daughters from that marriage, Amanda, is married to actor Jason Bateman. He later married Swedish model Anna Yeager who thirty years younger than Anka, but the marriage only lasted from 2008 to 2010.
General Edwin Walker was a controversial conservative who commanded combat troops in World War II and the Korean War.
He was arrested by the federal government after making some inflammatory remarks when James Meredith was the first black admitted to the University of Mississippi.
General Walker was charged with insurrection and sedition, plus two additional charges.
Lee Harvey Oswald attempted to kill General Walker on April 10, 1963, seven months and 12 days before he allegedly assassinated President John F. Kennedy during a motorcade in Dallas from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.
The Warren Commission Report said Oswald was the sole killer of JFK, but Oswald never faced trial since he was killed two days after the assassination by Jack Ruby.
If Oswald had killed General Walker, he probably would have been apprehended and arrested, but he never was formally charged with the attempted murder of Walker.
We do know that Oswald admitted to his wife Marina that he did shoot at Walker. If Oswald had been behind bars on November 22, 1963, it is likely that John F. Kennedy would have lived to finish his first term and possibly be elected to a second term.
JFK was 46 at the time of his death and would be 94 this month if still alive. However, if there was a conspiracy and Oswald was only a patsy to take the blame for the assassination, while someone else did the actual assassination, it would not have mattered if Oswald was behind bars.
November 22nd of this year will be the 48th anniversary of the assassination. Though the Warren Report claims Oswald was the killer, I still not fully convinced that he acted alone.
Even an 18 year old that was in Dealey Plaza that fateful day will be 66 this year, while a 40 year old that day would be 88 this year. So time is running out on any witness that might refute the Warren Report and prove it was a contrived effort by the U.S. government point the finger at one man, rather than a government of any country.
Just a few of the people and organizations that have been mentioned as the ones behind the assassination are:
Lyndon B. Johnson (who didn’t like playing second fiddle to JFK)
Cuban refugees (who didn’t like the way JFK handled the Bay of Pigs invasion and reportedly asked for less air support which halved the 16 planes being used in support of the Cuban invaders down to eight planes. Then after the invasion failed JFK pointed at the CIA for being the reason the invasion didn’t work, while he was the one that wanted less air support for the invasion. He fired several top CIA officials, including the director Allen Dulles after the invasion failed.)
E. Howard Hunt of the CIA (who reports say was at the grassy knoll the day JFK was assassinated and also took part
Russian government with possible KGB involvement
Organized crime in general since Bobby Kennedy, the attorney general was fighting organized crime with a passion.
Ku Klux Klan
There is no doubt that JFK had a large list of enemies who were angry enough with him or his brother Bobby to celebrate the death of JFK.
It wouldn’t surprise me one bit for someone to point the finger at his own vice president Lyndon B. Johnson who knew he would take over the presidency if JFK was assassinated.
On the other hand 48 years have passed and no smoking gun has emerged yet. It will take a deathbed confession now, more than likely to ascertain who the killer was if it wasn’t Oswald.
The last old time radio show aired on September 30,1962. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar being the last old time radio shows to be broadcast.
The poll today breaks down by age groups of people who have heard old time radio shows either live from 1920′s till September 30, 1962 or media such as MP3 CD’s and downloads:
May 6, 1937 was one of the most horrific days in United States aviation history. The airship Hindenburg exploded in mid-air shortly before landing at Lakehurst Naval Station in New Jersey.
The airship had been named for Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg (1847–1934), President of Germany (1925–1934). He appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany, which enabled Hitler to seize power when Hindenburg died in 1934.
Fourteen months after the first flight of the Hindenburg in March of 1936, the airship would make its final disastrous flight in May of 1937.
It was amazing that smoking was allowed, in the smoking room of the airship. Passengers weren’t permitted to leave the smoking room with a lighted cigarette.
Aboard the plane the fateful day of the explosion were 36 passengers and 61 crew members. 36 people died from the fire including 13 passengers, 22 crew members and one ground crew member.
Looking at photos of the fire, once it hit the ground, it is remarkable that 23 passengers and 39 crew members survived, of the 97 that originally boarded the Hindenburg.
Herbert Morrison, a reporter for radio station WLS in Chicago was given instructions to cover the Hindenburg landing at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. Morrison went from describing a routine flight, before it exploded, to a hysterical report of it exploding in mid-air.
You could sense the disbelief of Morrison in his voice that he was witnessing one of the most tragic events in aviation history. He is still famous today for his “Oh, the humanity” line he uttered during the broadcast.
Morrison was 31 when he covered the event in 1937 and would live to the age of 83, dying in January of 1989.
Before the Great Depression the stock market was flourishing, many average citizens had invested money in the stock market and installment buying was the rage.
This video tells about how the 1929 stock market crashed.
Even though October 29 is regarded as the day the stock market crashed, the day before had seen even larger drop than on Black Tuesday. On October 28 the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell from close to 300 points, to $260.34 for a fall of 38 points and stocks decreased in value by 12.82 percent.
Some investors who lost large sums of money took their lives when the stock market crashed:
After the initial crash, there was a wave of suicides in the New York’s financial district. It is said that the clerks of one hotel even started asking new guests if they needed a room for sleeping or jumping. – Randomhistory.com
Then on Black Tuesday stocks dropped another 30 points to 230.07, losing another 11.73 percent in value. Even though the stock market was a major factor in the resulting Great Depression falling real estate prices in 1925, had caused rumblings, about the economy not being strong.
The smart investors had bailed out of the stock market when they saw the writing on the wall and knew it had reached the top.
The Great Depression as bad as it was, did not affect 40 percent of the population. The Great Depression lasted from 1929 to 1941. World War II spurred the economy as workers were needed for defense plants and for other war-connected industries.
President Herbert Hoover sealed his fate when he said the worst was over in 1930 when in fact it wasn’t over till 1941.
My dad was 15 years old when the stock market crashed and lived through the Great Depression.
Unemployment was a major problem with Toledo, Ohio having an unemployment rate of 80 percent at one point.
Randomhistory.com has an excellent list of 50 interesting facts, about the Great Depression, that shed more light on the tenor of the times.
Archive.org is probably the best source for audio and video online this side of YouTube. The home page for the website as I write this article has a link to an audio version of a Grateful Dead concert at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum at New Haven, Connecticut on May 11, 1981.
The concert is only one of 803,305 audio recordings at the website. There are 2,214 old time radio related links to old time radio shows and magazines that were printed during the height of the popularity of old time radio.
One Roy Rogers episode has been downloaded 74,882 times showing that the website is available for downloading many of the old time radio shows we grew up with.
Old time radio fans will love looking at list after list of old time radio shows available for downloading including some of the more obscure shows which have very few episodes in existence.
The live music archive features 88,813 archives while the moving image archives total 451,934.
Avid readers will enjoy knowing that there are 2.694,639 texts including books and ebooks. The new Bookreader at the site includes Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin and is the example shown of how the Bookreader works.
There is an audio version of some books but the one I listened to was not of the best quality and seemed to be a computer generated voice which probably would be tiring to listen to for an entire book.
Most readers may not enjoy the voice and instead opt to read the books without sound. For those that like the audio they should enjoy the feature that highlights the portion of the book being read by the voice.
The Mega Reader iPhone app provides access to the 1.8 million free books at archive.org so they each iPhone user can have their own personal reader.
Each volume of the Warren Report investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is available to read.
The site is an excellent source of reading material for educators and students who are looking for books that are no longer copyrighted.
One word of caution: it could take hours just to look at what is available at archive.org. This website may have the most content of any website online and is worth going to the website to see for yourself what is available.
When the name Pat Brady is mentioned most Roy Rogers fans instantly think of Brady and Nellybelle his jeep.
Pat Brady was born on December 31, 1914 in Toledo, Ohio as Robert Ellsworth Patrick Aloysious O’Brady. When the Sons of Pioneers hired him to replace Roy Rogers he was hired and agreed to change his name to Pat Brady.
Brady appeared in his first movie Outlaws of the Prairie in 1937 as a singing ranger. He made several movies as a singing cowhand or singing rancher and was seen in many films that the Sons of Pioneers sang in.
Pals of the Golden West was his last movie which was released in 1951. That same year he appeared in his first Roy Rogers television program and never acted in movies again.
He was known for saying “Whoa Nellie” when driving the Willys CJ 2A jeep.
He played himself in the series from 1951-1957 and appeared in 100 episodes over that span. The Find A Grave website has this tribute to Brady:
If it were not for this man I would not be on this earth as he saved my fathers life during WWII. This man will always be a Hero to me.
- Rick T
Added: Jan. 10, 2011
He received two Purple Hearts in Germany and served with General Patton’s 3rd Army.
After leaving Roy Rogers television series Brady was only seen in one episode of four different western themed television shows making his last appearance in 30 Minutes at Gunsight in 1963.
For even more information and photos related to Pat Brady this website is an excellent source:
It has been seven years since I purchased my Creative Nomad Zen Xtra Jukebox MP3 player and it is still working great in 2011.
The 40 GB player may not be as slim as the MP3 players being sold today but it has 4,092 songs in it that I recorded from CD’s I had in my collection which has used only 14 GB of the space in the player.
I have found that Windows Media Player is best for ripping the songs from a CD into the computer and then after that process is completed going to My Computer will find the music in the My Music folder.
Right clicking on the music folder for the album and sending it to the player is all that is needed for it to copy the music into the player.
The sound quality to me is excellent and the music can be listened to in many ways. FM transmitters can be used to play the music in a stereo system, from non MP3 radios and other music sources.
However I have encountered problems getting the exact frequency on the transmitter to listen to the music so seldom even try to use them.
When my wife bought me a record player a couple of years ago it had an MP3 connection in the back enabling me to just plug one end into the MP3 player and the other into the MP3 connection on back of the record player.
There are many speakers today that are easily connected to a MP3 player. At one time Dollar Tree had one for a dollar that while it wasn’t the best sound but it did work.
Last year I found a I-Pod radio selling at a garage sale for only $3 which also has a MP3 connection in the back and it is great to listen to music and old time radio shows.
The old time radio shows on MP3 CD’s go directly into the My Music folder in Windows after the CD has been inserted into the CD drive. So with the MP3 player connected to the computer and the folder for the old time radio shows on that CD open right clicking will send the shows to the MP3 player.
Most MP3 CD’s will hold 100 old time half hour radio shows which is 50 hours of listening pleasure. For instance I have over 800 Jack Benny episodes on 8 or 9 discs.
One MP3 CD in my collection has an entire baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees in 1934 with legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson as an announcer. 77 years later it is still possible to listen to a game in which Lou Gehrig is playing but Babe Ruth was out with an injury that day.
There are also MP3 CD’s that are packed with radio shows that announce the bombing of Pearl Harbor and another about the Normandy invasion and you can hear the news broadcast those days over 60 years later.
Another MP3 CD includes a typical broadcast day from 1939 which includes every show that day that was broadcast from sign on till sign off and gives an idea of what it was like 71 years ago.
With my collection of over 17,000 old time radio episodes of many different shows it is easy to transfer several episodes of a particular show to the MP3 player and then after listening to them delete them from the player since they are on a MP3 CD so I can tell immediately if I have heard a show since I have heard it the episode would have been deleted.
If someone wants to buy old time radio shows it is much cheaper to buy them in MP3 form than on a regular audio CD since an audio CD may hold only four half hour shows and a cassette tape will only have a half hour show on front and back of the tape depending on how much the tape will hold.
Move the calendar ahead to 2011 and MobiBlu has on the market a very small 2GB MP3 player that only weighs .063 ounces and it is a .94 of an inch square.
The MobiBlu player shown in the photo is currently being sold at Amazon for $111.22 which seems a bit too pricey for such a small player.
The player includes an FM radio and a clock. It also includes a built in microphone and a voice recorder.
The radio also can save music or talk shows into the player for later listening.
The price still is a little steep for a player that holds only 32 hours of MP3 music and 64 hours of WMA music.
To me it is more of a novelty than a practical MP3 player.
My clunky looking Creative Nomad Zen Xtra Jukebox may not be as small as the MobiBlu player but it has provided a lot of listening pleasure the last seven years.
Someday my Creative player will be obsolete since it is not compatible with Windows 7 the last I knew and I am already getting not compatible with Windows Media Player messages already but it does still work with it.
The only problem is that I have misplaced the installation CD for the player and since our computer was repaired after the virus the software is no longer in the computer so I can’t download music and old time radio shows till I find the missing software.
However I can still listen to the music and old time radio shows in the player for many years to come. Buying electronic products can produce a myriad of problems but I can truthfully say the Creative Nomad Zen Xtra Jukebox is working as well today as when I received it in the mail back in 2004.
I can still listen to old time radio shows that go as far back as 1928 which is 83 years ago. The MP3 CD’s have been a amazing development that enable listeners in 2011 to go back in time to the good old days of old time radio which lasted from the 20′s till September 30,1962 the day old time radio died.
I can still recall visiting my grandparents at their Allendale, Missouri farm in 1959 and listening to radio shows and Kansas City Athletics baseball games as they were broadcast on a radio similar to this 1941 Philco console radio.
However the MP3 player enables me to relive those days 53 years later as I listen to the same great old time radio shows that were being broadcast back then.
It is exciting to listen to the old comedy shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Great Gildersleeve, Amos and Andy and the Jack Benny show.
Detective shows of that era come alive again as Boston Blackie, Dragnet, This is Your FBI and dramas likk the Family Theater and Lux Radio Theater can be heard today bringing back memories of the good old days when life wasn’t so fast paced.
Listening to the Christmas shows from those days are a special treat like A Christmas Carol, Amos and Andy Christmas show in which Amos recites the Lord’s Prayer to his daughter on Christmas Eve. Another favorite was the Lum N’ Abner show where neighbors walk through the snow to help a destitute family.
The Family Theater Christmas episode of A Daddy For Christmas will bring tears to your eyes as a mother and her son try to make it after her husband is killed in World War II and the son’s mom winds up marrying a department store Santa Claus.
MP3 technology has made it possible for us to hear those shows on MP3 CD’s that are nominally priced with Ebay showing 621 items under the old time radio CD’s listing.
Some of the sellers are selling huge numbers of shows on MP3 CD’s and DVD’s. One seller is selling 852 episodes of Jack Benny shows for $4.89 using Buy It Now with only a $1.69 shipping charge. The only caveat is that these episodes are all on one DVD while it would take about nine MP3 CD’s for these same episodes which would drive the price higher.
These shows will play on a computer but it will take more technical knowledge than I have to play these shows on other devices but most audiophiles should have no problem.
Anyone who misses the good old days of radio can listen to the old shows at several websites if they can’t afford or don’t want to purchase an MP3 player.
OTR.NET is one of the best to listen to old time radio programs for free with over 12,000 free shows to listen to including 610 Jack Benny shows.
OTRCAT.com is one of the best places to sample shows where almost every show sold on the site has a free sample of that show.
Happy old time radio listening!!
I have been following the career of Gene Autry for many years but only today did I know his first name was Orvon and that he was Orvon Eugene Autry when he was born on September 29, 1907 in Tioga, Texas.
His family moved to Oklahoma in the 1920′s and after becoming a telegrapher for a railroad company he would practice singing especially after midnight. Will Rogers overheard him singing and told him he should be a professional singer.
He signed his first recording contract with Columbia Records in 1929 and three years later he recorded his first hit song That Silver-Haired-Daddy of Mine. Back in the Saddle Again was another of his early hits.
Autry not only received a Gold Record for That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine but it was the first Gold Record received by any recording artist according to his official website.
Although Autry is known for singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer he wrote the Christmas standard Here Comes Santa Claus.
He would make his movie debut in 1934 in the movie In Old Santa Fe with Smiley Burnette who would be his sidekick portraying Frog Milhouse and Burnette also wrote many of the songs sung in the Autry films. He appeared in 80 of the Gene Autry westerns.
Pat Buttram would later replace Burnette in his movies when Autry returned from fighting in World War II since Burnette had found other employment. However, Burnette played a lot of different characters in the Autry films having different names in most of the movies.
Burnette did return to appear in the last six Gene Autry films which were released in 1953 after being in 56 films with western star Charles Starrett in the Durango Kid movies.
Not only was Gene Autry a recording star and western movie star but he also served in the Army Air Force from July of 1942 till October of 1945 during the height of his movie career. He was a flight officer flying planes in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
Autry also was an old time radio star appearing on his Melody Ranch radio program from 1940 to 1956. His horse Champion also had a radio show Adventures of Champion.
He wrote the Cowboy Commandments for his young listeners of the radio program:
Autry’s films were loaded with action and singing and he was one of the first of the singing cowboys in the movies.
The town of Gene Autry, Oklahoma was named for him in 1941 and the 2000 census shows a population of 99 for the town. He bought a 1,200 acre ranch named the Flying A Ranch in 1939 near Berwyn, Oklahoma.
He also appeared on television on the CBS network and even had a Golden Book for children written about him.
Another first for Autry is that he was the first recording artist to sell out Madison Square Garden. He also received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his accomplishments in five categories with stars in five different locations.
Dell Published printed a million copies of Gene Autry comic books in 1948 showing again how popular Gene Autry was in radio, television, movies, childrens books, comics and later as a baseball owner.
Even with all that was going on with his career Autry he also found time to provide stock for rodeos and was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for his participation as a stock contractor.
He bought several radio stations and television stations and owned the broadcast rights to the Los Angeles Angels baseball team and became the owner of the team. He not only was the first owner of the Angels was the vice president of the American League.
Among his other accomplishments were his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969, the Angels retired No.26 in his honor even though he never played professional baseball and was honored for his work to preserve the memory of the old west days. Major league teams have 25 player rosters so that is how the No.26 became his number since he was regarded as the 26th man.
His entry into the restaurant business was short-lived when he refused to pay the Chicago mafia a fee to open his business. Gangsters showed up on opening night and ordered the staff to leave and then destroyed the restaurant. That ended Autry’s foray into the restaurant business.
However money was never a problem for Autry as he was on the list in Forbes magazine of the 400 Richest Americans for many years and his fortune was valued at $320 million in 1995 which by then was not enough to be in the top 400 richest.
Surprisingly Gene Autry was the musical inspiraton for Beatle Ringo Starr who made this quote about his interest in Autry:
Gene Autry was the most. It may sound like a joke – Go and have a look in my bedroom, It’s covered with Gene Autry posters. He was my first musical influence.
Gene Autry’s life ended on October 2, 1998 due to lymphoma dying at his home in Studio City, California. His death came less than three months after the death of his contemporary singer-cowboy Roy Rogers.
It can said that Gene Autry was a success at everything he attempted in life except for the restaurant business but nobody could have succeeded under those conditions.
This memorial at the Find A Grave website reminds me of how much I loved him singing Christmas songs:
Santa Claus comes tonight! Thanks, Gene for all you did for us kids of yesteryear. May you rest in peace, and may God be with you always.
- K. Williams
Added: Dec. 24, 2010
What a tribute to a great man who was such a great role model for kids and adults alike.
A young Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower is shown in the above photo as the Louisiana Maneuvers involving 400,000 U.S. soldiers took place north of Pineville, Louisiana in 1941. Four years later Col. Eisenhower would be a general commanding the D-Day invasion as the U.S. would enter the European theater of World War II on June 6, 1944. Less than a year later the war would be over in Europe when Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. Three months later on August 15,1945 the Japanese would surrender.
The war was just part of 1940′s history but affected the daily lives of those who stayed home during the war. In 1943 automobile production was halted so those materials could be used in the war effort.
American citizens experienced rationing of food supplies in 1943. Travel was limited in order to make tires last longer and drivers were told to not drive over 35 MPH to extend the life of tires.
Interesting Facts From the 40′s
The U.S. population was 122 million in the 1940′s and is as of this moment at over 311 million an increase of 189 million since the 1940′s.
The national debt in the 40′s was $43 billion but the national debt today stands at over $14 trillion. The minimum wage was 43 cents an hour and in 1966 when I started work at the Alexandria Town Talk in Alexandria, Louisiana the minimum wage was $1.40 an hour an increase of about a dollar an hour over what American workers were earning in minimum wage in the 40′s. The minimum wage today is $7.25
Many Had No Indoor Plumbing
Only 55 percent of American homes had indoor plumbing in the 1940′s and outhouses were still being widely used.
The first commercial television stations went on the air in the 1940′s. The first digital computers weighed 30 tons.
Big Band Music Dominated
Big band music dominated the music scene during the 40′s as the bands traveled across the U.S. entertaining fans of big name bandleaders like Glenn Miller, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.
The 1940′s would be the last decade in which old time radio ruled the airwaves as television began to convert radio listeners into television viewers.
1945 would see the development of the first TV dinner. At the end of World War II there were only 5,000 television sets in existence. In 1951 that number would increase to 17 million sets being used.
Window Air Conditioners Gained Popularity
Only 74,000 window air conditioners were sold in 1948 and that number increased to 1.45 million by 1953. We didn’t buy our first air conditioner till about 1967 so was 9 years old when we first bought a television and 23 when we bought our first air conditioner.
I don’t ever remember being hot though since that was all we knew and didn’t have anything to compare it with.
The following website has even more details about the 1940′s and the events and entertainment from that decade.
No Modern Electronics in the 40′s
Back in the 1940′s the cell phone, MP3 players, HD televisions, DVD players, laptops, notepads and electronic readers were not yet in use leaving time for other activities. Life was simpler then with no ringtones being heard from a cell phone when a phone call or message was being sent.
The 40′s saw the birth of my oldest brother in 1941, my birth in 1944, the birth of a younger brother in 1947 and a younger sister in 1947.
No War at End of Decade
The decade ended without another major war but June of 1950 would see the start of the Korean War the war which has been more of a forgotten war except for the veterans of that war and their family members.
You seldom see any television documentaries about the Korean War while you can always find film from World War II and the Vietnam War on television programs.
The 1940′s ended 62 years ago but for those of us who lived during that decade it will be forever etched in our memories.
Martina McBride singing I’ll Be Home For Christmas.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas is a song that really meant a lot to me when I was in the Army in Hawaii for the Christmases of 1963, 1964 and 1965 four thousand miles from home in Pineville, Louisiana.
However playing the song in the barracks didn’t go over well since it reminded the other soldiers they would not be home for Christmas and they let me know in no uncertain terms not to play the song again.
There is a warm feeling to have a family together for Christmas and this song expresses that feeling.
The song was written in 1943 and is still popular 67 years later. Bing Crosby was the first to record the song and combined with his White Christmas which was first sung in public by Crosby in 1941 to make him well known for singing Christmas songs.
Since the song was written during wartime in 1943 it really hit home for soldiers stationed overseas.
Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky singing Dear John Letter in 1953. Jean is shown with Skeeter Davis the former wife of country music disc jockey Ralph Emery and Hawkshaw Hawkins her late husband who died in the plane crash that also took the lives of Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas.
Jean and Ferlin singing Dear John Letter 47 years later in 2000 at a reunion of country music stars.
Dear John letters seemed to have originated during World War II when a girlfriend of a soldier would send a letter informing the soldier that they had found another man back home after growing impatient over the long wait for their soldier boyfriend to come home.
With so many women serving overseas during World War II they would receive Dear Jane letters from boyfriends.
Sometimes Dear John letters would only have the salutation of Dear John and nothing else causing the expression “That’s all she wrote” when questioned about the contents of the letter.
Can you imagine a soldier in the European theater who had been part of the D-Day invasion at Normandy and survived and then a few days later receive a Dear John letter?
I don’t know for a fact but I doubt if soldiers during wartime left the war zone to return home for leave so their girlfriends became impatient after not seeing her boyfriend for several years and started looking around for male companionship in their own hometown.
I am sure that almost 70 years later Dear John and Dear Jane letters are still being written to our soliers in Iraq and Afghanistan and will be written in wars not yet fought.
Benito Mussolini was the only foreign leader to send his troops to fight for the despotic Adolf Hitler. He literally followed Hitler to the end with his death on April 28,1945 just two days before Hitler took his own life on April 30.
Mussolini joined forces with Hitler on June 10, 1940 after having sided with France against Germany in 1930 before Hitler had taken power in 1933. He was removed from power on July 25, 1943.
German forces helped Mussolini escape from prison but when he attempted to leave Italy in April of 1945 he was executed by Italian partisans before he could leave the country and died at the age of 61.
The war could have ended sooner if a plot to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944 just about six weeks after the D-Day invasion had been successful but it only angered him as he had 4,900 people killed in revenge for the attempt on his life.
Hitler could see by the end of 1944 that the war was lost but continued the mass executions of Jews and ordered the German infrastructure destroyed so it would be inoperative when the Allied forces took over the country.
Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday on April 20, 1945. Refusing advice to flee to the Bavarian mountains to make another stand he decided he would die in the capital.
On the 27th of April Hitler found out that Heinrich Himmler was trying to work out surrender arrangements with the Western allies and Himmler was to be arrested under Hitler’s orders.
On April 29 Hitler wrote his last will and testament and learned that Mussolini had been executed which probably convinced him to take his own life rather than to be humiliated by being paraded through the streets and face execution.
With the Russian forces only a block or two from the chancery Hitler shot himself and had his body and the body of Eva Braun and other followers were thrown in a crater and doused with gasoline.
So ended twelve years of rule by Adolf Hitler. The man who had planned on conquering the world died a coward who didn’t want to face execution by foreign powers after having ordered the death of millions of Jews during the war.
Audie Murphy was born in Kingston, Texas on June 20, 1925. He had a troubled childhood having to drop out of school when in the fifth grade due to his father abandoning the family.
He earned a dollar a day for picking cotton and plowing the fields. One of his hunting companions said Murphy didn’t miss when he shot while hunting. His friend mentioned this fact to Murphy and he replied that his family doesn’t eat if he doesn’t kill animals.
Things would get even worse for Murphy when his mom died when he was only 15 in 1941. When Pearl Harbor was attacked Murphy attempted to enlist in the military but was rejected because he was only 16 at the time.
In 1942 his sister adjusted his birthdate to make him appear to be 18 and he was admitted into the Army after being rejected by the Marines and Army paratroopers for only being 5 foot 5.
He passed out during a drill at Camp Wolters, Texas and his commanding officer tried to transfer him to cooks and bakers school. Murphy would have none of that since he wanted to be a combat soldier so was sent to advanced infantry training at Fort Meade, Maryland.
His first combat was during the invasion of Sicily when he killed two Italian officers on horseback which won him a promotion to corporal.
Murphy had to fight his way out of an ambush at Salerno when his unit was attacked by German soldiers. He was rewarded with a promotion to sergeant after the battle.
When his best friend was killed by a German soldier who was faking surrendering Murphy opened fire on the German machine gun crew which had killed his friend and killed all of them and then used their machine guns and grenades to destroy other German positions winning him the Distinguished Service Cross.
He showed his shooting skills at the Battle of Holtzweir when he only had 19 of 128 soldiers available for combat. He ordered the other eighteen soldiers to fall back while he begin gunning down the Germans and used a burning tank’s guns to mow down even more Germans.
Only then did he call his eighteen soldiers in the rear to rout the Germans out of their position as the Germans exited the area. His valor in this battle earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Even more impressive was the fact that the temperature was minus 14 degree fahrenheit and 24 inches of snow was on the ground during this battle.
Murphy was then removed from the front lines and promoted to first lieutenant on February 22, 1945 about three months before the end of the war in the European theater. He received 33 U.S. medals and received every medal that was possible to win.
He was 5 foot 5 and 110 pounds when he enlisted but was 5 foot 7 and 140 pounds by the time he ended his three year enlistment.
Murphy alone was credited with knocking out six tanks and killing 240 soldiers. He was discharged from the Army on September 21, 1945.
Like most combat veterans Murphy experienced post traumatic stress from being in combat. He had to relive his wartime experiences as he acted in To Hell and Back which was highest grossing movie for Universal Studios till Jaws surpassed the $10 million box office total of the Murphy film.
Murphy appeared in 44 feature films during his 25 years in Hollywood. In addition to acting he was a country music songwriter writing the Jerry Wallace hit Shutters and Boards.
He developed a close friendship with Jimmy Hoffa and was working to have him released from prison. In fact he talked to Grady Partin who had testified against Hoffa to recant his testimony.
Murphy’s life would come to an end when the private plane he was in crashed into Brush Mountain close to Catawba, Virginia.
For more details and links about Audie Murphy:
June 6, 1944 changed the world and spelled the end for Adolf Hitler the German leader and Benito Mussolini the Italian leader. Mussolini died ten months later on April 28, 1945 and Hitler would die two days later on April 30,1945.
Only those soldiers who participated in the invasion 66 years ago can understand what it was like for them to step off landing crafts into the water seeing their fellow soldiers gunned down in front of them as they made their way to the beach.
It was the same for the paratroopers as they exited the aircraft to uncertain futures as they were like targets in a shooting gallery for any German soldiers in the area and were at risk of being captured.
We will never know the fear that those participating in the Normandy invasion felt that day as they started their journey across the French countryside on their way to a date with destiny as they were almost certain to face German troops armed with tanks.
A lot of boys became men that day as they saw for the first time the horrors of being on a battlefield. D-Day was only the start of the European theater for the 156,000 Allied troops that landed in Normandy that day.
There may never be an accurate count of the deaths during the Battle of Normandy but it is estimated that 2,499 Americans died at Normandy on D-Day.
The following 56 photos from the Denver Post tell the story of D-Day better than the written word:
Gomer Pyle USMC was not the most realistic show ever filmed since a recruit like Gomer Pyle in a real Marine boot camp would never have made it even halfway through the arduous training that a Marine experiences.
It also was unrealistic in that Pyle and his exasperated sergeant would be in the same unit for five years. Still it was comedy at its best when the country bumpkin Pyle locked horns with the go by the book Sergeant Carter.
There were other storylines during the five years but the basic ingredient for the popularity of the show was the interaction between Pyle and Sgt. Carter.
The first episode with Andy Griffith lurking around the Marine base while watching his friend Pyle being berated by an angry Sgt. Carter was one of the funniest episodes. The highlight was when the other recruits talked Pyle into wearing Sgt. Carter’s dress blue uniform and the reaction of Sgt. Carter.
The following clip shows some of the interaction between Pyle and Sgt. Carter and the comedy that develops from the scene:
This clip shows Sgt. Carter at his best as he tries to get Private Pyle to stop smiling.
Jim Nabors as Pyle shows off his singing voice in this episode as he sings The Impossible Dream in a voice that resembles in no way the voice Pyle uses during his encounters with Sgt. Carter.
An interesting sidenote is how Pyle was named on the Andy Griffith Show. He was named after Gomer Cool a writer and Denver Pyle the actor who was featured as the patriarch of the Darling family in several episodes of the Andy Griffith Show.
Everett Greenbaum conceived the idea of having an inept mechanic on the show after he pulled into a service station with motor problems and the mechanic’s only solution to the problem was to add more gasoline to the tank.
Nabors like Don Knotts had left the Andy Griffith Show to pursue other career opportunities left Gomer Pyle after five years to have his own variety show. Since then he recorded many albums, acted in movies and television and performed on the night club circuit.
He almost died in 1994 from Hepatitis B but a transplant saved his life and Carol Burnett had a hand in finding a transplant for Nabors.
He turned 80 last June and now lives in Hawaii and has sung Back Home in Indiana for 30 years at the Indianapolis 500.
Frank Sutton who portrayed Sergeant Carter died at the age of 50 on June 28, 1974 only five years after the end of the run for Gomer Pyle USMC. He suffered a heart attack before going on stage at a dinner theater in Shreveport, Louisiana.
His main claim to fame before becoming Sgt. Carter was when he acted in Marty a movie which won a Best Actor Award for Ernest Borgnine.
For some reason Gomer Pyle USMC reruns have not been easy to find on television today. It is classic television comedy at its best but apparently network executives today don’t think it is worthy of being shown in reruns as I am not even sure it can be found on any network today and anyone knowing where it can be seen is welcome to share that information with Nostalgia and Now readers.
There are many theories about what may have caused the duststorms of the 1930′s including failure to rotate crops, grassland being plowed under to grow wheat and unstable ocean temperatures which caused the weather patterns to change.
Growing wheat was a very profitable enterprise at the time so apparently farmers started converting grasslands into farmland for the purpose of growing more wheat.
The Dust Bowl mostly affected where the five states of Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico intersected.
According to the above map only a small portion of Oklahoma and New Mexico were affected by the duststorms while a larger portion of Kansas, Texas and Colorado were affected. It is surprising that Oklahoma which is usually identified as the hardest hit by the duststorms since you read more about the Okies moving to California than those of other states.
John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men and both books relate how difficult life was for the immigrants from the dust bowl who had moved to California.
A 1934 duststorm blew dust across the country as far as New York City. Life became unbearable for those living in the path of the duststorms and they began to migrate to California.
Some historians have estimated that between 300,000-400,000 immigrants migrated to California during the dust bowl years.
The Los Angeles police were not welcoming the immigrants. Rather they established a “Bum Blockade” to turn them back.
California even went so far as to establish an Indigent Act passed in 1933 that made it a crime to bring immigrants into the state.
The dust bowl years couldn’t have came at a worse time with the United States deep in the throes of the Great Depression. The dust bowl victims not only lost their livelihood but had to leave their homes to escape the oppressive dust storms.
The following short video tells some of the experiences of dust bowl victims:
It is ironic that life didn’t improve for the immigrants till the advent of World War II as some of the immigrants joined the war efforts as servicemen while those left behind were employed in the war effort at home working in defense factories.
Ken Burns who has done documentaries on many subjects for PBS is planning to do a retrospective on the Dust Bowl in the not too distant future.
When part of our family made a trek from Louisiana to Maine in a 1949 Packard one of my favorite memories from the trip were when we stopped to eat at a Howard Johnson restaurant in Beverly, Massachusetts if my memory is correct about the city.
The two items I remember from the menu were the fried clams and the 28 flavors of ice cream. I can still recall the bright orange roofs of Howard Johnson restaurants.
I can’t recall too much about that 1957 visit of 53 years ago but it saddened me to know that there are only three Howard Johnson restaurants in existence today.
History of Howard Johnson Restaurants
It was the year of 1925 when Howard Johnson was $40,000 in debt. However he borrowed another $500 to take over a patent medicine store with a soda fountain and a newstand.
He sold the three basic flavors of ice cream which were vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. He decided to experiment to see if he could improve the taste of the ice cream he was selling and when he was successful lines of people waited to buy the ice cream.
The success of the ice cream inspired Johnson to turn his store into a restaurant and he started another restaurant in 1929 the same year of the stock market crash which slowed him down but didn’t impede his desire to expand.
Johnson originated restaurant franchising in America which led to the franchise system of doing business today for many fastfood chains.
By 1935 he had established 25 ice cream and sandwich stands in Massachusetts. He experienced great financial success till the advent of World War II which crippled his business because of food rationing and curtailment of travel to help the war effort.
The war caused most of the restaurants to close and the company was close to bankruptcy but after the war ended the company opened some of the closed restaurants and by 1954 there were 400 Howard Johnson restaurants in America.
At this point the company opened it’s first Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in Savannah, Georgia and then began have a Howard Johnson restaurant adjacent to the motor lodges so travelers could have the convenience of eating right there on the premises instead of having to drive around looking for a place to eat.
By 1979 there were 1,000 restaurants and 500 motor lodges. However the 1980′s would see the fast food industry cut into their profits and the company was sold in 1980 for $630 million to an British company.
Now 30 years later only three Howard Johnson restaurants remain in business. The business may not be what it used to be but nothing can remove the memories of the 28 flavors of ice cream and the bright orange roofs which made the restaurants stand out as travelers ventured along American highways.
One of the highlights while being stationed at Schofield Barracks in the 60′s while with the 25th Infantry Division was the day I visited the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
The memorial was dedicated in 1962 after the money needed to erect the memorial was raised by a combination of government funding and private funding.
Elvis Presley held a benefit concert on March 25, 1961 which raised $54,000 toward the cost of building the memorial.
The most significant memory for me was realizing that there were men that were entombed in the ship that would never receive a proper burial. Only 229 bodies of the 1,167 that died that day have been recovered with the rest still entombed inside the ship.
Oil still seeps from the wreckage since half a million gallons of oil were reportedly aboard the ship when it sank and that oil can be seen 69 years later.
Each crew member’s name is engraved at the memorial. 24 crew members have had their ashes interred in the wreckage so they could be buried with their shipmates.
The attack on Pearl Harbor precipitated the participation of America in World War II. President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany after the attack and it would be May 8, 1945 before the war would end in Germany and August 15 of the same year would be the last day of the war with Japan.
Historians can only wonder whether America would have been involved in World War II if the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Like President Roosevelt stated after the attack that day would live in infamy.
What we do know is that over 418,000 American lives were lost in the war which would last three years and eight months.
It goes without saying that December 7, 1941 was one of the most significant days in world history.