What We Didn’t Have in 1950

1954 Admiral Television

I was 10 years old in 1954, when we bought our first television. We didn’t even buy the television to watch television. If I remember correctly my sister had a lazy eye, and prescribed a television (talk about an expensive prescription) so she would use her lazy eye more. We fixed a screen on one side that fit over half the screen, that made her use her lazy eye. If it wasn’t for her eye problem we probably wouldn’t have bought a television so soon.

The first thing I remember watching on the television was the movie Buck Privates (1941) with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Howdy Doody would come on at about 3:30 in the afternoon, then was followed by Pinky Lee, then usually a western movie with Bob Maynard, Kit Carson, Gene Autry and many others would come on till it was time for the Camel Caravan news program with John Cameron “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” Swayze doing a 15 minute news program. He was later well-known for being the spokesman for Timex watches, as he demonstrated how much abuse the watches could take and keep on ticking.

We only had one channel at first, so we had no problem working the controls. It became more complicated, when cable television companies began to go into business. We then had the old wired remote controls, which later went the way of the do-do bird and gave way to remote controls with batteries. Now we could not only change the channels, but could also turn the volume up and down, adjust the picture, record programs to watch later and best of all could zap through the commercials. Sponsors of the television programs were not too hep on the idea, since you record a show, then watch it about 20 minutes later and zap through the commercials and cut an hour-long show into about 40 minutes minus the commercials. After the show we would wonder who was sponsoring the show.

We got along fine without cell phones, since there was no such thing in 1950. I only had a cell phone when I needed one for working as a caregiver, since I had to call the office all night, so they knew I wasn’t dozing off at work. I haven’t had a cell phone since 2011, since I never did learn to text on the contraptions.

We didn’t Google it in 1950. We would just go to the library and would usually find the information there. It would be 48 years later, before we could Google it and find information in seconds, that used to involve riding to library and digging through index cards, or going through the reference books section to find the same information, that we can find in seconds today.

I don’t remember having a microwave oven, while growing up so got along well without one. I did find out later, that after buying one years later, that it was easy to ruin popcorn, by cooking it too long. Now I never cook it as long as recommended, to prevent having to throw out charcoal popcorn. My favorite use for microwave ovens is to melt ice cream in it. I am not a fan of ice cream right out of the freezer, so would put it in microwave and leave it on for about 2 hours….just kidding….about 35 seconds later the ice cream would be good and creamy but still cold.

It was about 1966 or 1967 when we got our first air conditioner. I was about 21 at the time and had just came back from Vietnam, and was thinking it would have been nice to have an air conditioner over there. I didn’t know how to act with an air conditioner, since I had lived 21 years without one, so it took awhile to get used to putting on a jacket when the air conditioner was running. I didn’t have to worry about putting on a jacket from 1992 to 1998, since I was in bankruptcy and had to choose between eating and staying cool and eating won out. I bought a 10 inch box fan and had it blowing on my face, and I was able to sleep at night with no problem during those six years. I couldn’t wait to get to work at Town Talk, since air conditioning usually worked there.

I remember when we were growing up that we bought ice in blocks and put the blocks in the refrigerator. About 60 years later we bought our first icemaker, since my wife liked to have crushed ice. It was nice having crushed ice, till the icemaker went on the blink. Best of all it saved paying $2 or more for a bag of crushed ice.

The only personal computer we owned back in 1950 was our brain that computed what we learned in school, and solved math problems before Common Core made it all complicated. My mother bought us our first computer, a Commodore 64 which was very rudimentary compared to the computers of today. It was mostly a machine to play games on, and we sometimes would type the code for games out of magazines published for Commodore 64 users. Later on we bought more advanced computers, but they were still too complicated for me. It took me a year to figure out how to send emails. I have never been a computer whiz. I know how to do the basics like copy and paste, but don’t ask me how to hook up a router or modem, or the computer may cease to function.

Before we bought our television in 1954 the only entertainment we had been listening to was old-time radio shows on our table radio, and playing records on our phonograph player. Then cassettes became popular, but were a real headache if the tape got tangled up inside the tape player. 8 track players were also around about this time, but I completely missed the boat on 8 track players, since I never owned a 8 track player or a 8 track tape.

The compact disc became the most popular way to listen to music, since the CD players let you pick a certain track if you wanted to play it, unlike cassette players where you had to more or less play the whole tape to hear a song from the starting point.

It was 2004 when I bought my first MP3 player and I was surprised to learn that you could carry thousands of songs, in one device and the Creative Nomad Zen Xtra Jukebox (pictured above) was my first MP3 player. It was 40 GB and I had 3,000 songs on it the last time I checked. You could go directly to any of the 3,000 songs in a matter of seconds.

One of my favorite uses for the MP3 player was to listen to old-time radio shows from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I found out I could buy 800 Jack Benny shows for $12 on a MP3 CD. Sam’s at about that time was selling about 10 shows for $20, so I bought the MP3 CD’s exclusively from old-time radio retailers and ebay sellers and it was possible to build up my collection fast. I currently own 17,000 episodes of many old-time radio shows of all genres. Best thing all 17,000 episodes fit inside one binder manufactured for CD’s.

All I had to do was place the MP3 CD’s into the computer and copy the files into the computer, then transfer them from computer to the MP3 player, and it works the same way with regular music CD’s.

Whoever invented the GPS probably had me in mind, since I hated folding and unfolding paper maps, to find out if I was going the right direction, to arrive at my destination. I don’t know how many times I had taken wrong roads, before the GPS was invented. It still is scary when the GPS tells you that you have arrived at your destination, when you are in the middle of nowhere with no houses in sight.

It is amazing to me that this lady telling me directions is flying around up in space, with nothing better to do, than to keep an eye on my vehicle, and if I miss a turn she is nice enough to say recalculating and letting me know we will still arrive even if it is a 20 mile detour to get to the destination.

One of the handiest inventions is the automated teller machine, that gives people money at all hours of the day and night. It used to be if they locked up the bank on Saturday afternoon, then the customer would have to wait till Monday morning to make a transaction. Now they can drain their bank accounts down to nothing in just minutes, instead of draining it a little bit at a time, while waiting in line at the bank.

Sometimes criminals have to call for assistance even with automated banking, if the bank card they stole won’t work, or even worse the automated teller machine takes the card and won’t return it to the bank card thief. The bank will send someone to the bank and tell them the pin number for the card and apologize for the inconvenience.

My mom was very slow when using the automated tellers, and more than once someone would walk in the building housing the ATM machine and get aggravated about the long wait, then finally go back to their car, drive off with wheels squealing in search of a ATM machine with someone faster using the machine.

Sometimes I wonder how we got by back in 1950 with no television, no cell phone, no Google, no icemaker, no GPS, no MP3 player, no ATM machine, no personal computer and no microwave oven. We managed to get by without all of these inventions, because most of them hadn’t been invented in 1950.

Classic Television – Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Ozzie Nelson, David Nelson, Harriet Hilliard and Ricky Nelson 

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was first broadcast on radio in 1944 and could be heard on radio, until 1954 when the radio show ended on June 18. 1954. Only 83 of the shows can be bought today for listening to, out of the hundreds of shows made during their 10 year run on radio.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet television program was first televised on October 10, 1952, and for the first two years could be heard on radio and seen on television, till the radio series ended in 1954. The last television episode was telecast on September 3, 1966. The 14 year run on television makes the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet the longest running sitcom,  on American television still 49 years later.

Ricky Nelson recorded his first #1 song Poor Little Fool in 1957, which incidentally also was the first #1 song on the new Billboard Hot 100 chart. Ricky often sang on the show, which gave him even more exposure for his singing career.

Ozzie Nelson and Don Defore

Don Defore portrayed Ozzie’s neighbor Thorny on the show. He would later gain fame as playing George Baxter on Hazel, when Hazel would refer to him as Mr. B.

Ozzie Nelson wrote 178 of the 435 episodes of the show.

The shows are not being shown on any television network that I know of. If you know of the show being on television please comment, so we can share the information with other fans of the show.

It is sad that the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet shows are not being shown. The show represents life at a simpler time back in the 50’s and then continued to entertain fans, even though the country was at war with Vietnam in the 60’s and there was unrest on college campuses.

All four members of the Nelson family have died since the show left the air.

Ozzie Nelson died June 3, 1975 at the age of 79 in Hollywood, California.

Ricky Nelson died December 31, at the age of 45 in a plane crash in Dekalb, Texas. 

Harriet Hilliard died October 2, 1994 at the age of 85 in Laguna Beach, California.

David Nelson died January 11, 2011 at the age of 74 in Los Angeles, California. 

Dick Haymes – Crooners of the Past

Dick Haymes 1918-1980

Dick Haymes was born on September 13, 1918  in Buenos Aires, Argentina as Richard Benjamin Haymes. He died on March 28, 1980 at the age of 61.

He was considered to be one of the best baritone singers of his era and also acted in numerous films. He first appeared in the movie Mutiny On The Bounty in 1935, as an uncredited actor. Nine years would pass, before he appeared in the movie Four Jills and a Jeep in 1944.

Dick Haymes is seen singing in this clip from State Fair.

Meanwhile, he had sung with the Harry James Orchestra starting in 1939.

Dick Haymes singing Laura, who makes me wish there were singers today, that are half as good as Haymes.

Dick Haymes singing with Helen Forrest the standard It Had to be You.

 Haymes was not successful at marriage having been married six times. His first marriage to Edith Harper was annulled, because she told him she was pregnant, when she was not pregnant. His second marriage to actress Joanne Dru lasted almost eight years.

His third marriage to Rita Hayworth last a little more than two years. He then married actress Fran Jeffries and that marriage lasted just slightly more than six years. However his last marriage to Wendy Smith lasted 14 years and only ended upon his death in 1980. They were married but separated when he died.

He also battled alcohol abuse problems and financial debt.

Haymes received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with one being award for recording and the other for his five years on radio.

His brother-in-law Peter Marshall was the sister of Joanne Dru, who was the second wife of Haymes.

This Is Always

This is Always is my only Dick Haymes music in my collection.

Track Listings

1. You Can’t Be True Dear – Dick Haymes
2. In Love In Vain – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
3. I Wish I Knew – Dick Haymes
4. You Make Me Feel So Young – Dick Haymes
5. Some Sunday Morning – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
6. What Do I Have To Do (To Make You Love Me) – Dick Haymes
7. All Through The Day – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
8. Do You Love Me – Dick Haymes
9. It’s You Or No One – Dick Haymes
10. Tomorrow Is Forever – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
11. A Little Imagination – Dick Haymes
12. This Is Always – Dick Haymes
13. Nature Boy – Dick Haymes
14. Together – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
15. As If I Didn’t Have Enough On My Mind – Dick Haymes
16. That’s For Me – Dick Haymes
17. It’s Magic – Dick Haymes
18. Love Letters – Dick Haymes
19. The More I See You – Dick Haymes
20. I’ll Buy That Dream – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
21. It Might As Well Be Spring – Dick Haymes
22. Oh What It Seemed To Be – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
23. Laura – Dick Haymes
24. Till The End Of Time – Dick Haymes
25. It Had To Be You – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest

Dick Haymes may have died 35 years, but he left a legacy of his music and movies for generations to come.

Television Killed The Old Time Radio Star

Families would gather around the radio during old-time radio days and listen to the shows together.

Old time radio was broadcast over the radio networks from 1926-1962. Old time radio died on September 30,1962, when the last scripted shows Yours Truly Johnny Dollar and aired on September 30, 1962.

Anyone that was born that day would be 52 years old today, since the 53rd anniversary won’t be observed, until September 30 of this year. A 10-year-old that day would be at least 52 years old today. Anyone in their 40’s or 50’s in 1962 would be in their 80’s, 90’s or even 100 years old today. For instance my dad was 48 years old in 1962 and is 100 years old exactly now.

The advent of television spelled the end of old-time radio, even though it was a slow death, as old-time radio hung on for several years, after the emergence of television. The best thing about old-time radio is that the listeners get to use their imagination, as they listen to the shows.

Old-time radio ruled for many years, but television killed the radio star.

 

I was about 10 years old when I first remember listening to old-time radio shows. Dragnet was one of my favorite shows and also remember listening to Bob Hope. My mother liked to listen to shows like Stella Dallas, Pepper Young’s Family, Lorenzo Jones, Just Plain Bill, Whispering Streets and Edge of Night, which ran from 1937 to 2009 on radio or television and sometimes simultaneously.

 

Don McNeil 1907-1996 (Hosted Don McNeils Breakfast Club 1933-1968

I will never forget the opening song to each show.

Good morning, breakfast clubbers,
   Good morning to ya.
   We get up bright and early,
   Just to how-dy-do ya.

These are some of my favorite old-time radio shows that I have listened to the most:

Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden of Amos and Andy Show

Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were the stars of Amos and Andy from 1928-1960 on network radio. Correll and Gosden portrayed black characters from the radio studio. They had to use multiple voices, for the different characters in the shows. The radio series outlasted the television version of the show, since the television version ended in the middle 50’s.

The source of most of the humor on the show was from the Kingfish character, who duped the Andrew H. Brown character out of his money. The fights that Kingfish had with his wife Sapphire and mother-in-law who he lovingly referred to as the battle-axe were legendary.

Chester Morris & Joe Stone

Boston Blackie 1945-1950

Boston Blackie was portrayed by Richard Kollmar, who was the husband of columnist and TV celebrity Dorothy Kilgallen. The best part of the show for me was the interplay, between Blackie and Inspector Faraday, who thinks every crime committed on the show was done by Blackie since he was an ex-con turned detective.

William Bendix 1906-1964

Life of Riley 1941-1951

Chester A. Riley was a bumbling oaf who seldom did anything right on the Life Of Riley old-time radio series, but he was also one of the most likeable characters ever on radio. These shows are timeless, and just as funny today as they were 63 years ago, when the last show aired. Riley’s character was famous for saying “What a revoltin’ development this is”. He is paid a visit by the local undertaker Digby O’Dell who likes to use funeral jargon, when speaking to Riley like saying “Mummies the word”, instead of mum’s the word.

I have listened to the show above from You Tube and it is one of my favorites.

Harold Peary as the Great Gildersleeve

The Great Gildersleeve is one of my favorite old-time radio shows. Harold Peary was the perfect actor to portray Gildersleeve. He plays the water commissioner in a small town and the other characters make the show even better, from his son Leroy, to Peavy the druggist and Judge Hooker his friend/enemy depending on what was going on in a particular episode.

Old-Time Radio Websites

The best old-time radio website is otrcat.com. The website has a free show to listen to of most shows mentioned on the website. It has a lot of information about each show, plus if you right-click on save as link you can download a show to your computer for free.

http://www.otrcat.com/index.php

I found out in the 90’s that you could buy MP3 CD’s of the old-time radio shows and collected 17,000 episodes of old-time radio shows. The shows are on 178 MP3 CD’s and total over 8,000 hours of listening. It sounds like an expensive hobby, but I bought over 850 Jack Benny shows for only $12. This is my complete collection:

List of Old Time Radio Shows

This is a list of my old-time radio shows and the first number is how many episodes of a show I have in the collection and the last number on the right is the total number of hours of that show:

No. Of Shows CDs Name of Show Hours Total

44 same CD Maisie 22:00 22:00

1 same CD Breakfast Club 1:00 23:00

1 same CD Candid Microphone 1:00 24:00

2 same CD Groucho Marx 1:00 25:00

9 same CD Martin and Lewis 4:50 29:50

36 same CD My Favorite Husband 18:00 47:50

5 same CD Nazi Eyes 2:50 50:40

2 same CD Pete Kelly\’s Blues 1:00 51:40

869 9 Jack Benny 433:00 1135:40

100 1 Jack Benny 50:00 101:40

70 1 OTR Sampler 35:00 136:40

62 1 My Favorite Husband 31:00 167:40

296 2 Bob and Ray 100:00 267:40

360 4 Dragnet 180:00 447:40

190 2 Burns and Allen 95:00 542:40

138 2 Fred Allen 69:00 611:40

182 2 Life of Riley 91:00 702:40

199 1 Red Skelton 98:00 1233:40

96 1 Phillip Marlowe 48:00 1281:40

230 1 Cavalcade of America 115:00 1396:40

52 1 Damon Runyon Theater 26:00 1422:40

79 1 Gangbusters 39:50 1462:30

114 1 Inner Sanctum 57:00 1519:30

41 1 Mel Blanc 20:50 1540:20

101 1 Our Miss Brooks 50:50 1591:10

209 2 Christmas Collection 104:50 1696:00

106 1 OTR CAT Sampler 53:00 1749:00

54 1 The Bickersons 25:00 1774:00

52 1 Box 13 26:00 1800:00

381 4 Family Theatre 190:50 1990:50

60 20 cass Walter Cronkite 60 Best 30:00 2020:50

64 1 Abbott and Costello 37:00 2057:50

76 1 Bob Hope 38:00 2095:50

164 1 Groucho Marx 82:00 2177:50

60 1 Ozzie and Harriet 30:00 2207:50

249 3 This Is Your FBI 124:50 2332:40

290 1 Easy Aces and Mr. Ace 75:00 2407:40

510 6 Great Gildersleeve 255:00 2662:40

105 1 Phil Harris-Alice Faye 52:50 2715:30

95 1 Nick Carter 47:50 2763:20

734 7 Fibber McGee and Molly 367:00 3130:20

189 2 Command Performance 12:00 3142:20

2 1 2 Complete Broadcast Days 36:00 3178:20

183 1 Variety CD 91:50 3270:10

78 1 Richard Diamond 39:50 3310:00

102 1 You Bet Your Life 56:00 3366:00

30 1 Mike Shayne 15:00 3381:00

95 1 Sampler CD 47:50 3428:50

82 1 Jack Webb Collection 41:00 3469:50

52 1 Damon Runyon Theater 26:00 3495:50

255 1 Lum and Abner 64:00 3559:50

25 1 Rocky Forturne 12:50 3572:40

33 1 Milton Berle 16:50 3589:30

45 1 Big Band Remotes 22:50 3612:20

240 1 Easy Aces 60:00 3672:20

51 1 My Friend Irma 25:50 3698:10

539 10 Lux Radio Theater 535:00 4233:10

57 1 Dinah Shore Collection 28:50 4262:00

146 1 Couple Next Door 36:50 4298:50

38 1 Honest Harold 19:00 4317:50

64 1 Gangbusters 32:00 4349:50

186 1 Your Hit Parade 50:00 4399:50

146 1 Couple Next Door 36:50 4436:40

49 1 Richard Diamond 24:50 4461:30

71 1 Adventures of Maisie 35:50 4497:20

75 1 Father Knows Best 27:50 4525:10

182 2 Boston Blackie 91:00 4616:10

68 1 Nightbeat 34:00 4650:10

931 4 Lum and Abner 232:00 4882:10

201 2 Red Skelton 100:50 4983:00

367 3 Amos and Andy 183:50 5166:50

Part of shows 1 Bloopers and Outtakes 12:00 5178:50

65 1 Broadway Is My Beat 32:50 5211:40

101 1 Our Miss Brooks 50:50 5262:30

24 1 Martin and Lewis 12:50 5275:20

104 1 OTR CAT Sampler Vol. 2 52:00 5327:20

62 1 Sam Spade 31:00 5358:20

485 5 Gunsmoke 242:50 5601:10

94 1 Let George Do It 47:00 5648:10

81 1 Duffy\’s Tavern 40:50 5689:00

181 1 Mary Noble 40:50 5648:50

414 4 Bing Crosby 212:00 5860:50

68 1 Birthday CD 34:00 5894:50

129 1 Bill Stern 30:00 5924:50

117 1 Johnny Dollar Vol. 4 47:00 5971:50

61 1 Radio City Playhouse 30:50 6002:40

48 1 Railroad Hour 24:00 6026:40

88 1 Words of War 44:00 6070:40

88 1 Christmas Collection 44:00 6114:40

48 1 Nightwatch 22:00 6136:40

124 1 Christmas-Cinnamon Bears 50:00 6186:40

79 1 Jimmy Durante-Martin & Lewis 39:00 6225:40

48 1 Nightwatch 24:00 6249:40

81 1 Broadway Is My Beat OTR CAT 42:00 6291:40

232 1 Perry Mason 58:00 6349:40

25 1 Stand By For Crime 12:50 6362:30

96 1 Hopalong Cassidy 48:00 6410:30

94 2 Screen Director\’s Playhouse 47:00 6457:30

34 1 It Pays To Be Ignorant 17:00 6474:30

99 2 My Favorite Husband 44:50 6519:20

19 1 Curtain Time 9:50 6529:20

104 1 Guest Star 25:00 6554:10

175 2 Screen Guild Theater 87:50 6642:00

92 1 Theater Of Romance 46:00 6596:00

34 1 Bright Star 17:00 6613:00

205 2 Escape 102:50 6715:50

31 1 Nero Wolfe 15:50 6731:40

30 same Crime Club 15:00 6746:40

141 1 Grand Ole Opry 50:00 6796:40

122 1 Christmas Shows-Cinnamon Bears 61:00 6857:40

53 1 The Lineup 106:00 6963:40

258 3 Calling All Cars 129:00 7092:40

929 7 Suspense 464:50 7557:30

41 1 Six Shooter 20:00 7577:30

79 1 OTRCAT Sampler #5 43:30 7620:30

229 2 Wild Bill Hickok 47:00 7667:30

22 1 Arthur Godfrey 11:00 7678:30

61 1 Eddie Cantor 30:30 7719:00

29 1 My Little Margie 14:30 7733:30

102 1 Bickersons – Blondie 51:00 7784:30

174 2 Bob Hope 87:00 7871:30

56 1 Frances Langford 28:00 7899:30

85 1 Mr. District Attorney 42:30 7942:00

31 1 Henry Morgan 13:00 7955:00

68 1 I Was A Communist For FBI 34:00 7989:00

78 1 Information Please 39:00 8028:00

36 1 FBI In Peace And War 18:00 8046:00

49 1 Edward G. Robinson 24:30 8070:30

17225 178 8070:30

The 17,225 is the number of episodes…178 is number of MP3 CD\’s the shows are on…The 8070:30 is the number of total hours of old time radio in the collection.

 

70 Years of Christmas Memories

 

This article could have been titled 62 Years of Christmas Memories, since my first memory of Christmas would be of 1952 Christmas, when we lived close to Louisiana College in PIneville,, Louisiana. My first memory is of the Christmas stockings that were not hung by the chimney with care, since we had no chimney, but they still were hung with care. I will never forget my mom staying up all night, to wrap presents and hang the stockings.

One of my favorite memories was going to S.H. Kress store in Alexandria and trying to make my money stretch enough to buy presents for everyone in the family, which consisted of mom, dad, two brothers and one sister at the time. It was fun wrapping the presents, even though my wrapping skills were rudimentary at best.

Another memory is the Christmas tree lighted up with lights. We bought our trees from the Lion’s Club, where they were sold in front of Huey P. Long Hospital on Main Street.

It was exciting to ride on the Boy’s Scouts float in the Christmas parade, when I was with the Pineville Boys Scouts.

 

I will never forget the miniature church that would be displayed every Christmas in downtown Alexandria. It was misplaced for a few years, but the last I knew it is back on display again .

City Hall lighted up for Christmas in the 1950’s.

This photo was taken from the 2013 Christmas parade in Pineville. I can remember some brutally cold nights, on the night of the Christmas parade over the years. I haven’t been to a Pineville Christmas parade for at least seven years now, but time can’t erase the memories of the ones I have seen.

The Alexandria water tower lighted up for Christmas has been another Christmas tradition for many years. It was easy to find since it could be seen from a distance.

 

Policemen Injured in Christmas Parade Accident

One Alexandria Christmas parade in 70’s had an accident, which I personally witnessed. A reserve sheriff’s deputy was talking to my mom, then said he had to get back to work. A couple of minutes later that same deputy directed a car on a side street onto the street where the parade was almost starting . However, a Alexandria policemen, on a motorcycle on the parade route was hit by the car. The policeman flew up in the air and landed on the car. He was seriously hurt and if I remember right the accident happened before the start of the parade. I will never forget the policeman going airborne, before landing on the car.

 

Annual Christmas Party at Louisiana College

It was a highlight for me every Christmas when the faculty of Louisiana College and their families would have their annual Christmas party.

 

Christmas Eve Services At Pineville Park Baptist Church

I miss the Christmas Eve services at Pineville Park Baptist Church on Christmas Eve. The lighted candles, the music and the words spoken by the pastor made it a special night, that I always looked forward to each year.

 

Christmas Lights in Pineville

It wasn’t Christmas in Pineville, until  the Christmas lights were put up during the Christmas season.

 

Family Altar On Christmas Morning

We always had our family altar, before we opened Christmas presents. My mom would read the devotional that day, from the Home Life magazine.

 

Christmas Bonuses

We would receive our Christmas bonus at the Alexandria Town Talk, for many years till Gannett bought the Town Talk and put a screeching halt to that nonsense. I was working for the Monroe Morning World in Monroe, Louisiana from 1974-1976 and will never forget the $10 Christmas bonus. It really wasn’t a $10 bonus, though since they took tax out of the $10, so the check was for $9 and a few cents left over.

 

Christmas With 8 Degree Weather

I will never forget one Christmas, when it was 8 degrees. The car wouldn’t start, when I tried to start it later that day, so I could go to work. I ended up walking the two miles, to the Town Talk and freezing in the cold wind.

 

Christmas In Hawaii

I spent three Christmases in Hawaii, while stationed at Schofield Barracks,  in 1963, 1964 and 1965, before being sent to Vietnam. I went to a USO show, that had performers singing I’ll Be Home For Christmas. It wasn’t a great song selection, since I didn’t want to be reminded, that I wouldn’t be going home that Christmas.

 

One of my favorite Christmas albums

 

Christmas Music

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the great Christmas music. O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, with O Little Town of Bethlehem a close second.

My favorite secular Christmas songs are songs like The Christmas Song,  White Christmas, Blue Christmas, Please Come Home For Christmas and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. 

 

Bob Hope and Connie Stevens appearing in Bob Hope Christmas Show in 1970.

Andy Williams on Christmas Show

Christmas Specials On Television

The Bob Hope Christmas specials were another favorite part of Christmas. I was impressed that he missed many Christmases at home, to entertain American troops around the world. I also enjoyed the Andy Williams Christmas specials each year.

 

Old Time Radio Christmas Programs

I collect old-time radio shows and some of my favorite shows are the Christmas episodes, of shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny and the Great Gildersleeve. One of my all time favorites is A Daddy for Christmas, which was heard on Family Theater.

This is the funniest show I have ever heard on old-time radio. It is the first Fred Allen radio show ever broadcast from 1932 and is now 82 years old. Best part is when a speaker gives a pep talk to the employees of the Mammoth Department Store. Fast forward through the music at the first to get to show. It can be heard on You Tube. You can be glad you weren’t around in 1932, because the music is terrible, but just fast forward through it, especially the lady that is making a futile attempt at singing. It is sad they didn’t have the technology in 1932,  to rid the show of all the horrific singing.

Funniest Christmas Show Ever

The Jack Benny Christmas program is hilarious, and the dialogue between Jack Benny and Mel Blanc shown in photo is priceless. The show is funny from start to finish.

Best Christmas Movie

It’s A Wonderful Life is the best of all the Christmas movies, but that is only my opinion and my opinion with three dollars will buy a gallon of gas, so it is not really worth that much. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are the most recognizable stars in the movie, but Frank Faylen, who portrayed the father of Dobie Gillis, in the show of the same name was a cab driver in the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Christmas Songs

 

I have been hearing the same Christmas songs, for most of my life, but never tire of them. I know I will leave out some great Christmas songs, but will list some of my all-time favorite Christmas songs with name and writer/writers of the songs. 

White Christmas 1940 – Irving Berlin 

This is one of most well-known Christmas songs. 50 million copies of this song have been sold, which makes it the best-selling song of all time.

Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas in 1940, but there is some question, if that is the correct date. Berlin told his secretary, that he had just written the best song ever written. That was saying something, since Berlin had written a lot of very well-known songs over the year. Bing Crosby was the first to sing this song, when he sang it on Christmas Day 1941, on his radio show. It is ironic that the song was first sung just 18 days, after Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

500 versions of the song have been recorded.

Blue Christmas 1948 – Billy Hayes, J.W. Johnson

Doye O’Dell was the first singer to record Blue Christmas, but Ernest Tubb took it to #1 on the Most Played Country Juke Box Records chart, in January of 1950. Elvis Presley recorded it in 1957. I like both the Ernest Tubb and Elvis Presley versions best of the over 65 recorded versions.

O Holy Night 1843 – Placide Cappeau

It is amazing that the songwriter Placide Cappeau was an atheist, and it is surprising, that an atheist could write such power words and music. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, to hear sung at Christmas. John Sullivan Dwight, who was an Unitarian minister wrote the song for singing in 1855. O Holy Night was the second song, to be heard in radio history. Tenor Enrico Caruso recorded, what is the most famous version of the song in 1916. It isn’t Christmas, if this song is not heard at least once, during the Christmas season.

Please Come Home For Christmas 1960 – Charles Brown, Eugene Redd

I am surprised that Please Come Home For Christmas peaked at #76 on the Hot 100 Billboard chart. Some people refer to the song as “Bells Will Be Ringing”. The Eagles recorded the song in 1978 and it went to #18 on the Billboard chart. I never get tired of hearing this song sung and it starts like this:

Bells will be ringing the sad, sad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby’s gone, I have no friends
To wish me greetings once again

Choirs will be singin’ ‘Silent Night’
Christmas carols by candlelight
Please come home for Christmas
Please come home for Christmas
If not for Christmas by New Year’s night

Friends and relations send salutation
Sure as the stars shine above
But this is Christmas, yes Christmas my dear
It’s the time of year to be with the one you love

I’ll Be Home For Christmas 1943 – Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, Buck Ram

Bing Crosby was the first to record I’ll Be Home For Christmas in 1943. It was recorded during World War II, to honor servicemen overseas, who weren’t able to come home for Christmas. I know firsthand, how this song hits home, since I spent Christmas in Hawaii in 1963, 1964 and 1965. I played the song on my record player in Hawaii, but it wasn’t well received by the other soldiers in the barracks, who said they didn’t want to be reminded, that they would be going home for Christmas. The Crosby version peaked at # 3 on the Billboard chart.

Astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell requested this song be played, while on a Gemini 7 mission, in December of 1965. My personal favorite recording of the song was by Johnny Mathis.

O Little Town of Bethlehem 1868 – Phillips Brooks, Lewis Redner

Phillips Brooks was inspired by visiting Bethlehem in 1865, and three years later in 1868 wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem. His church organist Lewis Redner wrote the tune for the song. I like this song so much, that I have sang it often, over the years for special music at church. The song conjures up images of how it was on the night Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Christmas In My Hometown

There is little information about Christmas In My Hometown, but did find out the writer was Lassaye Van Buren Holmes. My favorite version of the song was the Bobby Vinton version, but Charley Pride also recorded an excellent version of the song. This song reminds me of the times we used to travel, to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with family, as far as 200 miles away over the years.

Christmas in Dixie 1982 – Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, Mark Herndon

By now in New York City, there’s snow on the ground
And out in California, the sunshine’s falling down
And, maybe down in Memphis, Graceland’s all in lights
And in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s peace on earth tonight

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

It’s windy in Chicago the kids are out of school
There’s magic in Motown the city’s on the move
In Jackson, Mississippi, to Charlotte, Caroline
And all across the nation, it’s the peaceful Christmas time

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

And from Fort Payne, Alabama
God bless y’all, we love ya
Happy New Year, good night
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas tonight

Christmas in Dixie not only had great words in the song written, by the members of Alabama in 1982, but also made me think of what it was like living in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Christmases of 2007, 2008 and 2009. This is the kind of song, that will take a listener back in time, to the good old days in the south, when families spent Christmas together.

The Christmas Song 1944 – Bob Wells, Mel Torme

The Christmas Song was first recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1946. This song is special for me, since I was born in 1944 and the song was written that year, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme. It is strange, that Torme wrote the song, but didn’t record it himself till later.

The song has been recorded from artists like Trace Adkins, to Justin Bieber, to Garth Brooks, to James Brown, to Glen Campbell, to Frank Sinatra, to Bob Dylan, to New Kids on the Block, to George Strait. My favorite version is by the great Johnny Mathis, who has been recording for 58 years now and is 79 years old.

Jingle Bell Rock 1958 – Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe

Bobby Helms recorded Jingle Bell Rock in 1957 and it was released in 1958. Brenda Lee later recorded it. This is one song you can almost be sure of hearing, at least once during the Christmas season. It has been recorded numerous times, by artists from many different genres of music, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth 1944 – Donald Yetter Gardner

Donald Yetter Gardner wrote the novelty song All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth in 1944. He was a second grade teacher, who asked the kids in his class, what they wanted for Christmas, and noticed most of them were missing at least one tooth. It gave him the idea to write the song and he was surprised it became a national hit.

Spike Jones and his madcap band the City Slickers were the first to record the song. It wasn’t until 1947, when Spike and his band recorded the song.

The song has been recorded by a diverse range of singers from Alvin and the Chipmunks to George Strait. I just can’t imagine George Strait singing this song. The writer Gardner preferred the Nat King Cole version. The song went to #1 twice for Spike Jones and the City Slickers.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Tommy Connor

Jimmy Boyd was 13 years old when he recorded I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus in 1952. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Singles chart in December of 1952. The song was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, until Boyd explained the premise of the song to the Archdiocese and the ban was lifted.

                                                                                                                    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1949 – Johnny Marks

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was based on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story written for Montgomery Ward. Johnny Marks wrote the song in 1949 and Harry Brannon first sang it on a radio program in November, then  . Gene Autry recorded it in December of 1949. The song made history, by becoming the first song to fall completely off the chart, after reaching #1.

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1950 and the song reached #14 on the Billboard chart. Dolly Parton and the Rugrats were two of many singers or groups to record the song over the years.

Jimmy Boyd would appear a few years later, in the Bachelor Father television series and is shown the above photo, with John Forsythe and Noreen Corcoran, whose character was his love interest in the show.

Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) 1600’s or 1700’s – Writer unknown

Adeste Fideles or O  Come All Ye Faithful, as it is known in the United States has an unverified history, so there is no known date of it being written, nor is the identity of the writer known. This article explains, why the origin of this so song is so questionable. One thing that is known is that it is one of the most sung songs in churches and also sung by carolers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3674120/The-story-behind-the-carol-O-come-all-ye-faithful.html

I know there will be a lot of great songs left out of this article, but time restraints restrict me from writing any longer, since this has taken about three hours to put together.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Great Character Actors of the Past: Gale Gordon

 

 

 

Gale Gordon 1906-1995

 

Gale Gordon was February 20, 1906 in New York City, New York as Charles T. Aldrich Jr. He changed his stage name to Gale Gordon, at some point in his career, but never legally changed his name, so he was still Charles T. Aldrich Jr. at the time of his death.

Prolific Radio Actor

Gordon was one of the most prolific radio actors having acted in 1,352 radio programs according to radiogoldindex.com. He was first heard on radio in 1932 and was heard on radio into the 1970’s.

His first regular role on a radio series was when he was heard on Tarzan and the Apes from 1932-1933.

He would begin portraying Flash Gordon on radio on May 4, 1935 and would also be heard on several other radio programs.

The following list of radio shows he was in during a short period of time shows how much in demand he was as a radio actor:

MAY 24, 1948 – CAVALCADE OF AMERICA

MAY 25, 1948 – FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY

MAY 26, 1948 – THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE

MAY 27, 1948 – MAXWELL COFFEE HOUSE TIME

MAY 28, 1948 – OLD GOLD TIME

MAY 29, 1948 – MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (Movie re-enacted for radio)

JUNE 1, 1948 – FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY

Gordon had one day off in an eight day stretch.

1948 would also be the year, that he began being heard on Our Miss Brooks, in which he portrayed the principal Osgood Conklin.

He would also be heard on My Favorite Husband, which also starred Lucille Ball.

Movie Career

Gordon made his first credited movie appearance in 1942 in Here We Go Again. He appeared in the movie version of Our Miss Brooks in 1956.

His movie career flourished in the years from 1958-1961 with seven movie appearances.

He would make his last movie appearance in The ‘Burbs in 1989, after a 21 year absence from the big screen, after he appeared in Speedway.

Television Career

Gale Gordon focused on regular roles on television shows, for the most part during his career.

It is no surprise, that one of his first appearances on television was Lucille Ball’s I Love Lucy in 1952. Ironically, he was offered the role of Fred Mertz on the show, but was already in line to play Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks.

He also appeared in 130 episodes of the television version of Our Miss Brooks, which ran from 1952-1956. I don’t recall this show being in reruns the last few years on any network.

One of his better known roles was as John Wilson in Dennis the Menace, in which he portrayed John Wilson in 44 episodes, after the death of Joseph Kearns, who had played George Wilson.

His association with Lucille Ball was renewed when he appeared in 109 episodes of The Lucy Show from 1963-1968 and then appeared in 109 episodes of Here’s Lucy from 1968-1974.

Lucille Ball would try once more to capture her magic on the small screen, in 1986 with Life of Lucy show that lasted only 13 episodes. This was the last regular role for Gordon on television.

We will never forget Gordon portraying Mr. Theodore Mooney on The Lucy Show. He would become exasperated with the actions of Lucy, which led to many funny situations.

There was no doubt about the respect that Lucille Ball had for Gordon. He appeared in every radio or television series, in which Ball appeared since 1940.

He would make his last television appearance on the New Lassie series in 1991.

Gordon traveled 160 miles one way to appear in the different television series with Ball, which shows the appreciation he had for her help, in obtaining those roles for him.

Addenda

Gale Gordon was married to Virginia Curley from 1937-1995, until the time of her death. She died about a month before Gordon died in the same facility.

He died of lung cancer on June 30,1995 at the age of 89 in Escondido, California.

Among his honors are his enshrinement in the Radio Hall of Fame and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his radio acting. That seems strange that he wasn’t awarded a star for his work in television.

Summary

Gale Gordon was a perfect foil for Lucille Ball’s comedy and made Here’s Lucy and The Lucy Shows classics, that will endure for many years to come.

His portrayal of blustery Theodore Mooney the bank president will never be forgotten, by those who saw those shows back  then or in the future.