Radio ’40s, ’50s

I’ve told already, my sister was the radio fan, and our father. I could parrot the openings to The Shadow and to The Lone Ranger because Beth was listening to those shows, I was just in the house, hardly able to avoid hearing.

Some of my favorite radio memories go way back in the ’40s when my father was still in the family: Baby Snooks, with Fannie Brice. Fred Allen, Jack Benny … Henry Aldrich, G-Men. But I also recall some favorite radio moments when it was me hearing: Dad gone, whether or not Beth or Mom were also listening. I want to tell once incident, from the 1950s, cause it still pops into my head now and them: that’s effective comedy. This file can then serve to tell any additional such memories as they occur to me.

Bob & Ray
Mom went off to work when her boss came to pick her up, drive into Manhattan daily. Beth and I got ourselves ready for school (though, to tell the truth, I was never ready for school!)
Mom had a clock radio, Oo, how new was that?! We’d all hear her radio come on, we all knew what it meant. The radio would play for a few minutes, waking one slowly, then the alarm would buzz: or, Mom could turn the buzzer off before it buzzed, if we were all up and functioning. Not me, I just lay there, snoozing to Bob & Ray, then sprint off without breakfast.

Bob & Ray had a regular shtick: Mary Backstage, Noble Wife. The base for the lampoon was a current soap: Mary Noble, Backstage Wife. (I see that that it launched in the 1930s, ran through 1959!)
Anyway, I’d lie abed, waking slowly, marveling at Bob & Ray, being funny, seeming spontaneous, playing together, hour after hour, for days, weeks, months, years. I was impressed, a fan.

Bob & Ray

Two shticks in particular, related: the spoof characters included a black-sheep brother, Fielding. The titular characters were a famous actor, and his wife. Characters were routinely getting amnesia, getting kidnapped, and sometimes they would get amnesia while they were kidnapped: nice and silly. What got me cackling, and still echoes in my head down these decades, the actor is held for ransom, he gets amnesia.
Joke 1) Amnesia: he doesn’t know who he is. A friendsly happener-by says, well, you must be rich and famous: look how well dressed you are. And someone says, You know sometimes rich people have their names embrooidered in their clothing: initialed handkerchiefs, name on the shirt pocket, family crest … They go though the actors clothes: “Sure, look: Robert Hall. Well, Bob, it’s good to have you …”
Robert Hall was a clothing store chain, Robert Hall sponsored Bob & Ray.
I hate sponsor jokes now, but I laughed at that first one I ever heard.

Joke 2: The actor’s associates come up with the ten thousand dollar ransom. Fielding is one of the badies. Fielding or some other dumb crony is counting the swag: “One, two, three …”
It’s already funny, they’re paid in singles! And later, “five hundred eighty-two, five hundred eighty-three …” And then “nine-thousand nine-hundred, ninety-four, nine-thousand nine-hundred, ninety-five …” And somebody says something, and the moron says, “Now I lost count: One, two, three …”

Comedy is timing. Bob & Ray timed things well. I drank the culture in: from Chaplin, from Sachmo, from Mad … from Steve Allen, from Bob & Ray.

Without Breakfast
One morning, senior in high school, my ride was a minute late, I though I’d eat of bit of something for a change. I did. Later that morning I was in gym class. I hated gym, it was all team stuff, I’m not a team person. On the baseball field, on the gridiron, on the basketball court, I’d just look for a way to be invisible. Everyone understood, ignore Paul, he’s no good anyway. This particular morning I wasn’t paying attention in particular and suddenly I realize some oaf had passed the basketball, it was coming to me. I didn’t know what to do. I caught it. What do I do now? “Shoot!” somebody instructed. I saw the basket, I shot, Swish!
Huh? I’d never scored a basket in my life, no one had ever given me the ball. A minute later I hear, “Paul.” Ball is being passed to me again. I shoot again. Swish!
The rest of the game, I didn’t miss! I had never had breakfast before! Makes a difference.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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