Retro OTR Diary 18 First, And Favorites Of the Great Gildersleeves, 1942

As posted on my podcast. Play or download the accompanying audio file by visiting:

Retro OTR Diary 18 First, And Favorites Of the Great Gildersleeves, 1942

Though this is the second season of the Great Gildersleeves show, it starts off with a lot of firsts, and features that have come to define the show. The first season saw several characters come and go, other than the core players. Gildersleeves character had no clear occupation. He left his position at the girdle factory when he left Wistful Vista, and the world of Fibber McGee and Molly to take over the guardianship of his niece and nephew. His sole occupation was in managing the family estate and financial holdings. As the Fall of 1942 rolled in the ongoing theme of supporting the war is joined by the appearances of such enduring characters as Mrs Leila Ransom, Peavey the druggist, Floyd the barber, and Chief Charlie Gates.

I share a few clips with some of my personal favorites from the first few weeks of the season. A trip to the lake to do some fishing to get one last relaxing outing before the end of Summer arrives, helps to showcase the characters in the household. A golf tournament features an egotistical cornet player who challenges Gildy’s patience, and gives him a tough time on the golf course. Things really take shape as Gildy plants a tree, then he overcomes an embarrassment to be appointed as Water Commissioner. Over the long term though, fans who are familiar with the show might recognize that the very same lazy and lax performance of the outgoing official is pretty much the same work ethic that Gildy applies to the job. It’s just that Gildy is much more lovable.

When it involves her love interest, Marjorie can be full of teen age drama, and unstable. When her uncle is in his own impetuous moments, she can be a stabilizing force, motherly and responsible, to keep him in check. Marjorie is no slouch at tossing the punchlines back at her impetuous uncle. She has a sophisticated ease in swapping the slang of the day, doing some genuine jive talking. When Gildy triumphs, she dotes on him, stroking his ego. When he is crushed in defeat, she uses just the right tender emotion to find an advocate to present his case in the world of grown ups in the city council. Portrayed by the talented Lurene Tuttle, Marjorie is a character who swings from the excited squeals of a girl, to admonition of the men folk in her life.

Though the reality of having a maid is rare, in the radio shows of the day, you would think it was commonplace. Regardless, Birdie brings all the submissive, stabilizing character to the household of a devoted mother. She has the right amount of sass to let you know her obedient nature comes with a price. She doesn’t pretend to know how to run the house, and lets Gildy do his thing. Still, without her the house would fall apart pretty quickly. Another recurring character is Judge Hooker The Judge is Gildy’s constant rival, bickering like an old married couple, but always in a friendly way. They bark at each other a lot, but when it comes down to it, they both would do whatever it takes to repair a wrong, or a serious hurt.

Of the new characters brought in, Chief Gates and Floyd the barber return, but not very often. Both will be part of a singing group that Gildersleeves starts in the upcoming years, along with the Judge and Peavey. The deep voiced chief is the voice of authority, and a good match for the role. Floyd is a good listener, and though in this first appearance his voice is provided by Mel Blanc, in the future he would be voiced by Arthur Q Brian, the voice of Elmer Fudd. Gilda’s occupation as Water Commissioner is introduced, and his secretary would play a big part in the frustrations of his office. However, in her introduction, she is played by Verna Felton, and is quite the overbearing matronly type. As the weeks go by her character leaves, and a search for a replacement would eventually be filled by Bessie. The ditsie dame who was voiced by the real life wife of Harold Peary, the Great Gildersleeves.

Leila Ransom, the sweet Southern Belle, is a stereotype of the upper class, plantation raised lady. We don’t learn her back story in these episodes, but she is a widow, which makes her open for the amorous advances of Gildersleeves. If there ever was a person to match Gildy’s impetuous nature, she is it. Fickle, self centered, expecting the world to be available at her beck and call, but charming to the point of endearing her to those she meets. Leila would become Gildy’s girlfriend, and even take him as far as getting married… almost. A plot twist ensures the bachelor remains that way, but it’s not the last of Leila.

Leroy is both a typical boy, and a pal to his uncle. He has trouble in school. When there’s a chore to do, Gildersleeves puts Leroy to work raking leaves, mowing the lawn, digging holes, anything that his uncle wants to get out of doing himself. His friend Piggy Banks is often talked about, but rarely appears. Leroy is a perpetual 12 years old, and voiced by that perpetually 12 year old sounding Walter Tetley. When there’s trouble to find, Leroy can find it, and when he can’t, he’s probably in it with his uncle. He likes to eat, he storms up and down the steps, and admires his uncle as though he were his real dad.

Finally, the great man himself, Throckmorton P Gildersleeves. Did I mention that he’s impetuous? He can’t say no to a pretty face, he doesn’t understand women at all, he can go from soaring high on an ego trip, to crashing hard with hurt feelings. When things go wrong, its because the world is conspiring to get him, or so he sees it. He sees a fault in others, Leroy for example, and coaches him on his work ethic, procrastinating, and having no plan for life, then Gildersleeves learns the hard way that he’s guilty of the same things. He can be impatient, and the victim of miscommunication, and be having one of his bad days. At the drop of a hat, and an ego boost, his infectious laugh is able to get anybody laughing with him. He tries to make the right decisions, and get the upper hand, but is just as likely to fall prey to a prank, or his own pride. Is he a good parent? Through his many failures in setting the good example, he is loved by his family, and friends, and somehow things seem to work out for the best in the end.

1942, Gildersleeves, ROTRD, Clips, Salutes, Characters, First_Appearances, Water_Commissioner

Driving the Retro Radio Brand to Market

Yippie Kai yi Yay! Get them blogs rounded up, and a-movin’! Well maybe not that kind of branding, or going off to market, but that’s today’s assignment in improving on the blogging experience. Changing the title and tag line of the blog. Granted, it’s easy to do, but I’m not gonna do it.

A good title and tag line name the site, and let visitors know at a glance what you do with your site. I know all about that, and that’s why I already put a lot of effort into them. I don’t feel the mission of the blog has changed all that much to rename them just for this exercise.

I can share a little on why I named it the way I did. It’s a blog, so I called it a blog. Sounds redundant, but it stemmed out of my podcast, and it just serves to point out that difference.

I called it Retro Radio because I wanted to share about the hidden treasure of old radio shows. I don’t like the traditional label of Old Time Radio, it’s too… well… old sounding. For me, it’s not nostalgic. That’s a word that implies that I have a first hand knowledge of it. As old as I am, it still falls in a time of history from before I was born. Retro means to go backwards, and not necessarily to a place that you’ve ever been to before. For me, and to all future generations of potential fans, that’s the most logical name for it.

I’d love to claim the word ‘retro’ for my domain, and for the site title, but it’s too vague by itself. There’s retro music, retro gaming, retro styles, retro clothing, retro cars, and the list goes on. Even the term ‘Retro Radio’ can be misleading, since there are people who rebuild old radio sets who use that name. With all that thought process behind me, I arrived at including the redundant word, ‘Podcast’ in the name.

My tag line, or description, or log line, has been tweaked through the years and if I decide to change anything, it’ll probably be that. However, For the sake of the exercise at hand… no. It suits me just fine. I see myself as a person who is bringing classic audio entertainment out of the dusty archives, and presenting it in a new way, podcasts, to a new audience. Kind of like a librarian who doesn’t leave those dusty books of Shakespeare, or Dickens on the shelf, but who scans them, reads them, and delivers them in new forms of media to the generations of today, and the future.

Who knows, after taking the time to write this article about it, maybe there will come a time when I rename the title. I suppose the lesson to be learned is not to be afraid to go there, and change that brand if the mission of what you do changes. Well, cowboys and cowgirls, it’s time to put them doggies to rest, lets get some grub from the chuckwagon, tomorrows another day on the trail of blogging improvements.

Day Two: Take Control of Your Title and Tagline

You set your blog’s address when you registered at, but your blog’s title — what readers see on your site when they visit — can be changed at any time. Today, let’s make sure you love yours.

Today’s assignment: edit your title and tagline.


Hello, It’s Me Again – An Interview with RetroKeith

The question of, ‘Why?’ is something that can go in many directions. Why am I writing this? It’s part of another challenge to stretch my writing ability. Doing something original, and hopefully producing creative content that people actually enjoy. Why do I have this blog? I wanted to have a place for my own personal thoughts on old time radio, and to take interaction with listeners of the podcast in a new direction. By keeping blog articles on their own site, I can keep all the posts with media attached to them on the podcast.

I know my blogging goes in spurts. I get pretty busy at times keeping new podcasts lined up that I fall short on sharing outside the realm of show notes on other people’s work.

I don’t have many goals for blogging, other than to try to do more of it. Or at least to do it on a more regular basis. If anything, you might find extra items from my personal life on a small podcast network I started. It has nothing to do with old time radio, but if you’re ready to find out more about who I am, and who it is who is behind the old radio shows that comes your way, you might like to check it out. If you find me too hard to take, that’s OK. You don’t have to like me to keep liking classic radio programs. At least we’ll have that as a common ground. Hey, even if your social views are drastically different than mine, I already like you because you like classic radio too.

Interview with the guy behind Retro Radio Podcast, and the Retrobots

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

I actually do keep a personal journal. That’s part of why I started my other podcasts. To share at least part of that with people. It’s probably more boring than the stuff I do on the Retro Radio Podcast, and on this blog. I live a pretty boring life. There are probably hermits who are more interesting than me.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

For this challenge, I’ll do my best to respond to any diversity that comes my way. For the mission of the blog, I’ll keep it related to, or flavored with the historic theme of the era of the old radio days.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

Everybody who manages to stumble on the site. If you love old time radio, or are in the industry of voice acting, or s script writing, or the entertainment business, it would be nice to know how different, or similar the business is today, compared to the middle 20th century. How has the techniques used in the early shows or movies helped you today, or have you even taken the time to listen to the veterans of the earlier generation?

Even if you are just a regular person, but just love the old shows, or if you’re old enough to have lived through it, I’d love to hear from you. It would give the modern audience of what shows you liked, or comment on the shift of social norms, and technology advancements. Does life depicted in the shows portray the real life you experienced accurately, or not? I grew up during the years of ’the Brady Bunch’ and though I could relate to the characters, and the events of family life, I could tell it wasn’t particularly accurate. Nobody I knew had a maid, the set was clearly a in a studio, the house was never messy, and any family fighting didn’t involve blood, or s reaming.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

To have a more active blog, with articles appearing more frequently. Also in stretching what I do. That means to not go overboard with cranking out too many podcasts on the feed, or not abandon ing it either. I want to go for a balance where I feel like I’m accomplishing something, growing, and still finding time for a personal life in the real world, with face to face interaction with real people. I don’t get out of the house much, and certainly not as much as I’d like, so blogging, podcasting, and my feeble appearance on social media is how I can express myself.

My adventure in blogging has already evolved. For that matter, the way I do podcasts has changed over the years as well. I expect as time goes on, changes and evolutions on what appears will continue. Am I doing it right? All I can do is to be me, but it’s nice sometimes to get a comment from someone in the world to let me know. Interaction from you, the reader, or listener, can help my online world evolve as well.

Day One: Introduce Yourself to the World


The Story of My Blindness

Originally appeared on my personal blog, but I’m reposting it here to wrap up the final writing challenge post

This is a little long. I don’t often write about being blind, or share it with just anybody I meet online. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, but why should it matter? This in response to the simple statement I received from someone I was talking with through email, “Tell me about your blindness.” How much do you want to know? I tried to be as to the point as possible, but let myself run a little with the words to give a more broad outlook on where I’m coming from. Ready? Read, enjoy, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I’m 100% blind, or totally blind. Though that might sound like a terrible thing to deal with, I can do just about anything that everybody else does, including using a computer to write this. I wasn’t always blind, so I understand things like what colors are, and what the stars look like. Getting along in life is a combination of all my life experiences. Somethings I learned to do before I was blind, and just modified them to keep on doing them. Other things are things I had to learn to do after I went blind, like reading Braille, and using a long white cane to walk with.

A definition

Legal blindness is having your best correctable vision be 20/200 or worse. That measurement means that when the blind person stands 20 feet from the eye chart, he sees it just as well as a normal person can see it from 200 feet. I mention that statistic, because I once emailed someone to complain that visually impaired people had a hard time using their web site. They replied that that they wore glasses. Does that make them visually impaired? I had to respond that it might make them technically impaired, but blind was the word I should have used.

I once demonstrated to a class of grade school age kids by drawing a 1 inch square on their white board, and one that was 10 inches. At the time I was legally blind, with vision of 20/200. I told them that when I stood the same distance they were, I could see the big square the same as they saw the little square.

Hmm… I suppose being illegally blind means you’re wearing a blindfold, or just squinting your eyes really tight to pretend like you’re blind.

Some History to help you understand some of my experiences with blindness

I didn’t start out blind. I used to haved perfectly normal eyesight, with a little astigmatism. I spent 8 years on active duty in the military, and 9 more in the National Guard, and only left at 17 years of service, when my eyesight failed. I was qualified as expert with a rifle and pistol, I even went to Gunfighter School to lern to fast draw, and hit targets accurately. In one contest we did, I finished 2nd in the class. I first operated heavy weapons systems, then in the National Guard was a maintenanceman on Air Traffic Control Radar. A job that demanded fine tuning of electronic circuits among other things.

The short story for the cause of the blindness is that it’s a family history thing. Similar to how some people are prone to get fat, or bald, or have heart disease, in my family there’s a lot of blind people. The exact name for the disease has never been pinpointed. Some doctors call it Glaucoma, others have called it RP, Wagner’s disease, and my doctor called it Uveitis. I think his diagnosis may be the closest, but not exactly. Uveitis means inflammation of the eye, and that’s what happens as this disease attacks the eye, but there’s more to the disease, and the eyes are only an unfortunate victim of it. I also have a lot of symptoms that a diabetic person has, including meuropathy. Even the blindness closely resembles the kind that a diabetic person might get. I’m not diabetic. I’ve been tested for it many times, and always come back with the result that I don’t have it.

That’s the medical side of it in a nutshell. What about my personal story? How do I do emails, use technology, read web pages, fnot to mention build web pages?

First encounters with blindness, or More family history

Rolling back the clock a little bit, I always wondered as a kid if I, or one of my siblings might go blind someday. My mom went blind in her 20’s, 2 of her 3 brothers were blind, my grandma, and 1 of her 3 brothers were. Before that my great grandmother, and her father before her were, and possibly a couple other relatives somewhere in there as well. When asked, my family assured me that it didn’t run in the family because nobody went blind for the same reason. Meaning that doctors never gave the same diagnosis. However, when asked about their symptoms though, everybody had the same story. The main difference being in the age it all started, and the speed it progressed.

Knowing all that, I was always fascinated how my grandma and other blind relatives did what they did, and lived a normal life. Cooking, cleaning, holding down a job, going to college, and all that. My grandma was a far better housekeeper than most sighted people I know, including my own wife. (If you’re reading this, sorry, but you know it’s true. ) Her kitchen was immaculately clean and organized. Every room in the house was regularly vacuumed, dusted, and washed. After my grandpa passed away, she had a network of family and friends to do the things he used to do. My cousins regularly mowed her yard, family helped to work her garden, and make repairs around the house. . She recruited her grandkidds every year at Thanksgiving to put out her Christmas lights and decorations, and take them down before her company left on her Christmas get togethers. She had a washer and dryer, but would sometimes walk the 2 or 3 blocks to the down town laundromat to do her clothes, pulling her baskets behind her in a little red wagon. On visits to her house I would sometimes go with her, and was probably more fascinated at the amazement that people in the laundromat showed at her ability to do the sorting, folding, and all the tasks involved in doing laundry. I knew, it was just what grandma did. If she didn’t do it, nobody would do it for her.

As long as I remember we sent letters to her by tape recordings. First it was the old open reel tapes, then later cassettes. She had a CB radio base station when that craze hit, and when we made visits, people along the route would relay messages between us to let her know we were getting close. Once we were in range, it was always fun to radio her ourselves on the CB we had in the car and talk to her.

I think that having the question mark of blindness in my life was a big factor in deciding to join the Marines. In the military you get to go places, and see the world, and if I was going to be blind some day, I wanted to see a lot of it. I’ve sure been a lot of places. From the mountains to the beach. From the desert to the Artic Circle. I’ve lived, worked, and been deployed to places like North Carolina, Mississippi, California, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Panama Canal Zone, Tokyo Japan, Okinawa, and Norway. (which is a much happier place than Norwegia. Extremely cold in January, but still more friendly than Norwegia. For readers not familiar with Norwegia, you really need to discover the archives of the Nobody’s Listening Podcast. Google it, and knock yourself out with laughter. Just pay attention to the warning disclaimer that shows up on the early episodes, and a few of the later ones. )

Have a look at this page: EP 38 – Disney Drama

Or see if this link will grab the audio file: Download

Back on topic

I was told that I had cataracts when I was 25, and serving in Panama during the time when Noriega ruled the land, and just months before Operation just Cause that put and end to his government. Within a year of leaving active duty I had my first cataract surgery. From there the blindness slowly crept in.

When I was 34 my eyesight was getting to the point of causing real problems at work. I hoped it wouldn’t, but it was an uncomfortable situation, waiting in anticipation for what I knew was going to happen. My doctor performed a surgery on my weaker eye, one that I had no vision in for years. It was a success, sort of. I only regained 20/200 vision in it, but it helped the other eye not to be under such duress, and a little depth perception came back.

This was early in the year, but by my birthday in October the bottom fell out. My birthday was on Monday that year, and on my drive home the Friday before, I had to pull over, and find a house to call my wife to pick me up. It was the last day I worked for a long time. Within the week an emergency surgery was scheduled, but in the long run it didn’t work out. Because of that, I always tell people that blindness was my 35th birthday present.

First reactions to blindness

It may sound crazy, but it was almost a relief, instead of a stressful moment. The other shoe had dropped, and I could set out to redefine myself.

I had a family to support. My wife was a stay at home mom, but she managed to get a job pretty quickly. I also got in contact with state agencies to apply for disability. Between the two incomes we had enough to keep on paying the bills. I also took on most of the household chores.

My daily routine went something like this. Get up and get the kids ready for school. Clean the breakfast mess, do all the leftover dishes from the day before, clean the explosion of trash that seems to be an eternal fountain in the wake of 4 boys. The whole time I might also be reading an audio book. Pretty handy. If there was laundry to be done, I’d get it rounded up and processed, usually hanging it out on the line since the dryer never seemed to keep up. Otherwise I would do any other housekeeping chores up to around noon. After lunch I’d practice on the computer with some free demo editions of talking software I downloaded. After being trained and recieving my own full copy of the text to speech program, It made it easier. I’d limit myself to shutting it all down just before 3PM when the kids came home from school.

Normally, my wife would do laundry just about every day, and still does if kids presented her with dirty laundry. It’s not that she particularly likes to do it, or wants to, its just that she somehow feels obligated to do it. Not me. Everybody in the house was old enough to know the rules. I made sure everybody had a laundry basket. On the day I did laundry I rounded up baskets. If clothes were in it they got washed. If the clothes were dirty, and laying near it, they didn’t get washed. No clean clothes? Go naked, or sniff out your cleanest dirty shirts and underwear. You know the rules. It’s not my problem.

I had a place for the dishes, pots, and pans in the kitchen. If I’m the cook, they go where I can find them. If I can’t find them I don’t look for pans, I look for the kid who moved it. Guess what. You’re my helper in the kitchen today. Keep moving my stuff, and next time you’ll be the cook, and I’ll be there to help you. Did my pots and pans stop getting misplaced? Heck no, but my boys learned to cook at an early age. I had a similar rule about moving my dishwashing soap and wash chloth. They had to take over the dishwashing duty everytime they moved my stuff. My explaination was that if they wanted to take the responsibility of keeping track of the tools I used to do that job, they were therefore asking to take the responsibility to do the job for me.

Working and daily living

These days I occupy my time in building web pages, trying a little podcasting, and helping to ride herd on a stampede of grandkids. I can use computers, and most kinds of technology. Some common items a blind person might use every day include a Braille or talking watch, tags or stickers to mark things with. This comes in handy for things with flat buttons like those on most microwave ovens. You mark a few key areas like the start and clear buttons, and maybe a few special functions, and the number pad. Feel for a particular shaped dot, or sticker, and you’ll know what to push. I used to keep pins or little plastic clips to attach my socks together when I took them off. It helps to keep them matched, and you don’t have to worry about a lost sock, or wearing a blue one with a red one.These days my wife has taken over the laundry duties, and as long as she wants to sort them, I won’t get in her way.

The technology stuff really isn’t so hard to do. Computers have programs that read the text on the screen. Cell phones can even talk, but smart phones do a much better job of reading the screen than regular cell phones.

Before I got my iPhone, I had a cell phone with an added speech program that was pretty good at letting me do things like texting and email. Before that though, all I could do on a cell phone was issue a few voice commands. I couldn’t even add people to my contact list unless someone did it for me.

With my smart phone, I often use it like a little miniature laptop. I have a Bluetooth keyboard to use on my lap, while I drop the phone in my shirt pocket, and through the earbuds, listen to what the voice is reading to me. I use it a lot that way at church. I can take notes at meetings, open my bible app to follow along with a sermon. I can get digital Sunday School lessons to study before hand, and use in class. I even have a copy of the hymnal we use. I had to convert it though. It originally came to me in a digital Braille format, and it works out better after I converted it to plain HTML. The main trouble I’m having with it now is that it’s slow when I have to search for something in it. I’m working on another conversion to use it as a database, rather than a 600+ page scrolling document.

Of course, not all blind people know how to get that deep into tweaking their digital files. Not all sighted people know how to do that either. It’s just something I learned shortly after becoming blind.

What might be the best thing to do if you meet a blind person

It’s OK to ask questions about what they’re doing, or a device they’re using. At least I can say that I don’t mind it. Sometimes people will approach my wife and ask her what I’m doing, or something about that wierd machine I use. If they ask me, they’ll probably get a better answer.

What’s the best way to help a blind person?

It depends on what they’re doing. I usually don’t need help, but I’m not against it if people do it right.

Here’s an object lesson on giving help I learned in the Boy Scouts. As part of earning my First Aid merit badge we learned all kinds of life saving techniques. Mouth to mouth, CPR, tieing bandages, and all those interesting things. We were asked by the counselor to imagine that you’re in the park on a nice Summer day. You see a middle aged man laying motionless near a big shade tree. What’s the first thing you do.

One scout answered, “Rush up and start mouth to mouth.”

“Nope, you just killed him.” The counsellor said.

Thinking the imagined ailment to be even more serious than first thought, the next scout shot back, “give him CPR.”

“Nope, if he wasn’t already dead, he might be now.” Was the counsellor’s responce. Taking a look into the eyes of each of us scouts surrounding him he slipped out the hint, “what’s the first thing you do before you administer either mouth to mouth or CPR?” The light bulb went on in one of the scouts, I’m sure it wasn’t me, but with his first word from his mouth it all made sense.

For those of you who have never had Red Cross training, the first thing you do is shake the patient, and say in a loud voice, “Hey! “Are you alright? Are you awake? Can you hear me?” The victim in this little story was only napping. Enjoying the cool of the shade tree on the hot Summer day. He didn’t need help. Over eagerness to be a hero could have caused real and lifethreatening problems.

The point of the story, ask first. The help that you’re eager to give may not be the help that is actually needed. This is good advice for any time you feel like helping someone, whether they’re blind or not.Help is best when it’s exactly the kind of help that’s needed, not what you imagine it to be.

A practical word on using an iOS device

Like most other Apple products, it has Voiceover built into it. It’s Apples version of the speech program used by Microsoft since those old Windows 95 days. The difference is that though Microsoft has claimed to understand the needs of the blind person, Apple has been the one to have actually acted on it and developed it. Voiceover has become a high quality screen reader, providing the level of access to the menus and operating system that a blind person needs. With the Voiceover feature turned on I can do almost anything a sighted person can do. A few exceptions might involve using a game, or an app that presents information in a graphic nature. Images, charts, maps, and stuff like that. The image alone doesn’t convey the same kind of info to the screen reader, and the blind person is out of the loop.

When a cool, new app is released, I always have to pass it through the filter of, how useful is it when you add the layer of the screen reader into the mix. I balk at paying money for an app I can’t use.

Want to experience the iPhone as a blind person?

Get the free app, VO Starter. It’s a tutorial on the gestures you’ll need to use. In the Voiceover environment for example, you touch the screen, and it reads what you touch. It doesn’t activate it. If you double tap the screen, it activates the last thing the voice read. Make sense? Touching lets the blind person learn what’s displayed, so the double tap makes sense to activate an item.

Got the app? Now triple click the home buttton to turn on Voiceover. If it doesn’t work, you may need to go into Settings/General/Accessibility and activate the triple click home feature to toggle Voiceover on and off.

Still with me? Go ahead and start the VO Starter app. With Voiceover on, do a 3 finger triple tap to turn on the screen curtain. Hahahaha. It blanks out the screen. No cheating now. You’re now illegally blind. Listen to the voice, and the instructions the tutorial app is telling you. OK, if you need to do the 3 finger triple tap again to lift the screen curtain and take a peek, I’ll let you, but try not to do it. You want the full experience, right?

Work through the tutorial, and you’ll see that a blind person can use iOS pretty well with just modifying the gestures a little.

If you’re all done, whehn you triple click the home button to turn Voiceover off, the screen curtain will also lift.

Still have questions? Do you need something clarified? Contact me and let me know.

More Behind the Scenes of Podcasting – The Week of the Squirrel

You’re not going to believe this. There’s a squirrel in my house. Crazy, but do you know what’s even crazier? He has been inside for nearly a full week. What kind of idiot lets a wild animal in their house, and then lets them stay?

At first, it was a matter of hearing a few stray sounds in an old house that is already noisy enough then there was the mess that couldn’t be explained. Boxes knocked off shelves, Knick knacks on the floor and broken. Then came the undeniable sound of scurrying feet, and something in the furnace room being knocked to the floor.

There’s definitely something in here, but fortunately we have it locked in the furnace room. Now we can sleep at night without worrying. Maybe it’ll just leave. Go out the way it came in.

Yeah, right, it was weird enough to hear a yet unidentified critter running laps at 6AM around the furnace, then I got up to take my morning pills in the kitchen. I didn’t see it, but something was on the table, and jumped off as I came in. From the sound of it, I’d guess it to be roughly the size of a small cat… or a squirrel… or a rat. I hope it’s not a rat.

There was a bag of white chocolate chips on the table, in the vicinity of where I heard it jump. It was already opened, and a few chips now graced the table. My detective instincts kicked in. I’ve been listening to a lot of Philip Marlowe radio episodes lately, so I let that hardboiled voice narrate in my head. It probably wasn’t a rat, and maybe not a cat. The wrapper would have been ripped to shreds by their claws or fangs as they dug into the bag. What animals around here are dexterous enough to reach in without tearing the opening any bigger? Raccoons are bigger, and would have made more of a racket than I heard when the critter jumped from the table. Not to mention the prowling around we’ve heard. It has to be a squirrel. Do opossums use their paws like that? No, I’m sure they don’t.

That was on the second day of the critter adventure. The next day while I was in the office upstairs, my wife spotted it. She came face to face with the squirrel. He dove for cover behind the washing machine, and has managed to stay mostly out of sight. The rest of the story has just been a matter of waiting. Nobody has any live animal traps, and our critter is good at being stealthy, although he got brave one day and my wife woke from napping over her laptop keyboard to see the thing a few feet from her, staring her down.

It’s just a matter of time now. We have traps on the way. They ought to be hear in an hour or so, and we’ll see how long you last now.

A Day in the Life of a Bored Kid, A Fiction

This is a bit long. If you don’t make it all the way through, sorry about boring you. If you did, thanks for that.

“Mom,” I called out as I gave the TV set a glazed and bored stare. “Mom, I’m bored. There’s never anything to do.” I pause to listen to the silence, now that I have the TV clicked off. “Mom… mom…” a little louder, so she can hear me from where ever she may be in the house, “Mom!”

“What do you want? Don’t you have feet? Get off your butt and come in the kitchen if you want to talk to me. There’s no reason to shout!” she shouted back at me through the house. “Mom, I’m bored,” I began, but knew a second too late that it was the wrong thing to say when I looked into those furious eyes that shot daggers back at me. “I mean, there’s nothing to do. Nothing ever happens around here.” There was still no sympathy in those hardened eyes.

“You want something to do?” she said to me, her mood shifting slightly. Suddenly, I felt a dark cloud on my horizon. Why didn’t I see this coming? She continued, “I have laundry to do downstairs, if you want to lend a hand.” All I could muster was a deer in the headlight stare. “If you prefer, there’s weeds in the garden that are calling your name. The grass could use cutting. Is your room clean?” Her list grew, and began picking up steam, like a steam train pulling out of the station. “Your dad would love it if you’d clean up your mess in the garage…” I had to cut her off, “Mom.” It was too late, she was on a roll, and picking up steam, “…the trash cans never got put back where they belong. It wouldn’t hurt to run the vacuum over the living room. There’s dusting…” Oh no, I’ve unleashed the monster, “Mom,” I repeated. “What.” It sounded more like a command than a question.

“Can I have a popsicle?” I asked, hoping it would derail the Mom Express train to hard labor. It worked. “Sure,” she said after a pause, “get one for me too.” As I handed one over to her, and started to give the wrapper a rip to open it she said, “You. Outside. I don’t want any messes in here.”

“Mom,” I said a little plaintively, “I’m not a baby, I’m 12 years old.”

“No you’re not, you won’t be 12 for at least 2 more months,” she corrected me. “Out!” There was no arguing, so I turned to head out the door. Taking a long pause, I turned back in hope of a reprieve. “Get out, and shut the door. I’m not paying to cool the outside,” she admonished me.



“I’m bored.” I called over my shoulder with a grin, and slammed the door as I tried to out run her last words, “Go! And don’t slam the door!”

I sat on the front steps, and saw my friend riding down the block. “Bobby! Over here!” I called. “A popsicle,” he began, “got one for me?” I knew better than to go back inside at the moment, so I asked “Can I ride the unicycle?

“No way.”

“Sorry, no Popsicle then.”

“What you been doing since school let out?”

“Nothing. It’s been pretty boring. Nothing ever happens in this rinky dink little town.”

“This weekend my dad’s going to take his .22 rifle out to Losch’s field. They’re going to cut down the wheat, and scare up some rabbits.”

“Really what does he do, shoot them or something?”


“Won’t he shoot the people in the field too?”

“No, you dummy, he rides on the tractor with old man Losch.”

“Oh, but what about…” my question trailed off as we watched a police car pull up at the house across the street. It was our one and only cop, or sheriff, or whatever his title was. He just sat in the car for a while. “I wonder what he’s doing,” Bobby said. “Maybe its Mrs. Warren,” I replied. “Maybe she’s hurt or something,” I continued.

Bobby replied, “No, he’s just sitting there. If she was hurt, there’d be ambulances here, and he’d be breaking down the door to rescue her.

“Maybe he got a report of an unlicensed unicycle driver, and he’s coming to give you a ticket.” I teased.

“Ha-ha,” Bobby said without a shred of humor, “that’s so funny I forgot to laugh.”

As we sat there watching Mr. Matthews, our police man, looking over a clipboard, and making a radio call, another car pulled up. Mr. Matthews got out of the patrol car and went to talk to the other man. We could hear them talking.

Mr. Matthews said, “I told you before, you don’t need to be here. It’s time to let the law handle this.”

Bobby and I just sat there to watch, and see what was going on. The other guy looked pretty old, he had to be at least 40, and he looked pretty mad. “He looks like somebody made him put on a shirt with the color button buttoned.” Bobby said quietly to me. “Yeah, and a few sizes too small,” I said. “Look at how red and purplish his face looks.” Bobby gave a little giggle; his eyes might pop out and hurt somebody if he doesn’t settle down.”

Mr. Matthews tried to make him stay by his car, but he wouldn’t stand for anything less than marching right up to the door with him. “Let me do all the talking,” Mr. Matthews commanded. The man muttered something, but I couldn’t make it out.

Mrs. Warren came to the door, and it looked like she was about to slam it shut again, until Mr. Matthews spoke. “You do know why I’m here today ma’am?” he asked. Mrs. Warren seemed a little terrified and nervous, but she said, “I have a good idea what it’s about if he’s here.” She indicated the man with the bulging eyes. She sounded really upset. That was unusual for her. I’ve been cutting her grass for this summer. I started helping her out last winter, shoveling the walks, and stuff like that. Mr. Warren used to do it, but he got sick and died just a few months ago. I really don’t know what it was, he was just old, and… Well… that’s just what happens. Hey, I’m just a kid, go ask the doctors. It’s just that Mrs. Warren always had a smile, and wasn’t the kind of person to be in trouble with the law, or anybody for that matter.

“I want this woman out of my house!” Bulgy Eyes shouted. Mrs. Warren started crying. I never saw her cry like that, at least not since the funeral. Sometimes I’d see her on the front porch on the glider, looking like she wanted to cry. Then she would get up and rush in the house, like maybe she did cry, but didn’t want anybody to know it.

“What did he say?” asked Bobby. “He wants her out of his house?” he asked. “That’s what he said? I remarked. That was news to both of us, don’t all old people own their houses? They even have that sign next to the front door, “The Warren’s, Established 1974.” That was before my parents were even born. Well, I think my dad might have been, but not my mom.

Mr. Warren was a Viet Nam vet, and they got married when he was in boot camp or something like that. I know that because after mowing the yard, Mrs. Warren would let me come inside to cool down, and have a glass of lemonade. She has pictures everywhere. There’s some of her in her wedding dress and Mr. Warren in his Navy uniform. She told me they lived on base, and that four of her kids were born in Navy hospitals. I don’t remember where, but there’s no bases around here, so they might have been married even before that sign says. I like to sit and talk with her, and look at the pictures of her kids. It’s kind of neat. All six of her kids have their own picture frame. Mr. Warren made these special, but I saw some like them in the store. They’re just not as fancy. There’s a circle of pictures for each grade of school, and a picture in each.

The argument across the street was getting Bulgy Eyes even more worked up, and Mr. Matthews had a hard time trying to keep Mrs. Warren from crying. Another car pulled up just as Mr. Matthews finally made the decision, “Look, Mrs. Warren, I’m not going to do anything today. I’m going to leave now, but the eviction notice says you have to be out by next Friday. Do you think you can do that?” Mrs. Warren just nodded as she shut the door, but Bulgy Eyes pointed his finger right into Mr. Matthews face and said, “You get paid to enforce the law. I expect you to do what the law tells you to do sheriff.”

“Pop, what’s going on?” the young guy who just drove up asked. “Mom told me you were coming over here.”

“Then you should know what it’s all about.” Bulgy Eyes said.

“Pop, this is Mrs. Warren you’re doing this to.” the young guy, apparently the son of Bulgy Eyes. Only he didn’t look like his dad very much.

“I’m not doing anything to anybody!” shouted Bulgy Eyes. “That’s my property, and payments need to be made. People just can’t expect a free ride.”

“But pop, you’ve been friends with Mrs. Warren forever. Wasn’t her brother in your class in school??” the son tried to sooth Bulgy Eyes temper. “Remember when her son Phil and I were in Cub Scouts together…”

It sounded like he was going to say more but he was cut off.

“You’re on her side!” Bulgy Eyes screamed back at his son. I think he turned a few shades deeper purple, and his eyes bulged out farther than ever. “You just don’t get it…”

Now it was Bulgy Eyes turn to be cut short. He grabbed at his chest, then made a funny sound, and fell over. Mr. Matthews tried to catch him but he just kind of deflated, and fell down like dropping a sack of laundry.

“Pop!” the young guy shouted, and closed the distance with a leap. Mr. Matthews was doing something to Bulgy Eyes, it must have been CPR. It was just like they do on TV. He managed to get the young guy’s attention, and told him to call 911.

I went back in the house. My Popsicle was gone, and it was probably long enough for mom to not get freaked out at me.

“Mom!” I called out. “Mom can you hear me?”

No answer. Good. “Mom, can I have a popsicle for me and one for Bobby too? If it’s OK then don’t say anything.” I waited. No answer. Remembering my manners I added, “Thanks mom,” as I grabbed a pair of the frozen treats, and went outside. Bobby and I enjoyed the popsicles as we sat on the steps, dripping Popsicle juice down our elbows, and onto the sidewalk. I guess mom was right about me making at least a little mess.

It took a while for the ambulance to get there, it didn’t have a siren blaring, just the flashing lights. Mr. Matthews didn’t spend much time doing the CPR stuff. I think Bulgy Eyes must have had a heart attack, and was dead before he hit the ground. We watched them take Bulgy Eyes away, and then Bobby asked, “What time is it?” I looked at the nonexistent wrist watch on my arm and said, “A hair past a freckle. Why do you want to know?” Bobby said, “You dork. I’m going to go home and see if I can go to the pool after lunch. Want to come?” I had a season pass, so all I had to do was get my mom to say it was OK. “Sure, I’ll check with my mom, and meet you there,” I told him.

Bobby rode off, and as I stood there, watching the now empty street, I felt like I needed to do something. I went over to ring the bell at Mrs. Warren’s house. “Can I help you?” She asked as she seemed surprised to see me there, and touching a worn piece of Kleenex to her red rimmed eye. “Not exactly,” I said. “I just came over to see if you needed a hug.”

She started crying, as she gave me a big, grandma style hug. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that. “Thank you,” she managed to get out once the tears stopped. “I needed that.” I told her that I hoped she was around in the neighborhood for a long time, and she gave me a curious look. It made me wonder if she saw me sitting on the steps earlier, but I just told her I should probably be going home.

As I let myself back in the door, mom was coming up from the basement with a laundry basket in her hands. “Are you just coming in,” she asked?

“Yes,” I answered.

“Didn’t I hear you slam the door earlier?” she asked.


“Maybe? What’s that supposed to mean? She asked.

“It depends on how mad at me you would be when you find some extra popsicles missing.”

“Extra popsicles?”

“Yeah, Bobby came over for a few minutes, and I got him one.” I admitted.

“And another for yourself, I’ll bet.”

“Of course. It would be rude to have Bobby eating something in front of me. Wouldn’t it.” I teased, testing her mood some more.

“What’s new with Bobby?” mom wanted to know.

“Nothing much. He’s as bored as me.” I told her. “He wanted me to ask if I can go swimming with him later.”

“Because he’s bored.” she commented.

“Yeah,” I answered.

“And nothing ever happens in this boring little town.” she said with a mocking tone in her voice.

“Nope. Nothing ever happens.”

An Outside Perspective of Vic and Sade

I hate sharing weaknesses, or anxieties. It always makes me paranoid that someone will exploit the thing I share, and use it against me. The one thing I fear the most is that someone will slip $500,000 into my bank account, because…

What? No takers? So much for reverse psychology.

I really do hate being lost. The scary feeling that you have no recognizable landmarks to go by. Following the travelling directions to a tee, but suddenly finding yourself in a spot that is off track and alien. It’s even worse when there’s nobody to ask. No idea of which direction North is. It’s like floating adrift at sea, with nothing but the horizon as far as the eye can see, and nothing but sky above.

To bring a little light to the topic, and switch things up a bit, consider this perspective of Vic and Sade.

How did I get here? I’m lying in the grass, but it’s so tall. I can hardly see anything over it. Wait, there’s people coming.

“Hey! I’m down here!” I want to yell, but no sound comes out.

They’re talking about someone named Cynthia, and she’s giving her ring to the butler… no, it’s not the butler, its Hector… or is it a rattlesnake? No, no, that can’t be right.

“Forget about Gilmore Grizzwald the cattle thief, it’s only a character in a movie! Down here! I’m over here! That’s right, walk a little closer” Hey, did he just say something about a lawn mower? This could go badly for me.

Just listen to that woman over there. She’s not looking in the right spot either, but you’re all getting warmer. I’ll bet if I were a dime, or a silver dollar, you’d be sure to find me.

What did she say? It’s me! They are looking for me after all! “I’m down here! Look over here!” Oh, why can’t I talk, and make them hear me? I wish I was back in Decatur, or at least with Mr. Gumpox. How did I ever get here anyway?

Stop all your useless chattering! Don’t worry about shoes, or how they fit, or how I got lost. I’m lost, and I’m right over here. What? The whole neighborhood is out looking for me. That’s a relief; at least I know that people care about me.

You’re doing it again. You’re too worried about how I got lost. That’s right I fell out of his pocket, what did you think… that I fell out of his mouth? Gumpox sure has some crazy clients along his garbage route, I’m telling you. No, I didn’t jump out of his pocket. No, I didn’t bite my way through it either. I don’t think you’re funny at all.

Hey, is that Mrs. Corkel over there? And look, Mrs. Parker has her whole family out looking. There’s Mrs. Drummond and her husband. Come on people, just look over here, your almost on top of me. That’s right, I’m right here, smiling and gleaming in the sunlight, just waiting for you to see me. Hey, did that kid just refer to me as ‘fangs’? I’m teeth, not fangs. To be precise, I’m a high quality, custom made set of dentures. Hmm… I hope it’s not your grubby little paws that find me.

Finally! They’re coming my way. A clothes pin? A cigar butt? You’re finding everything out here, except for me!

Oh no. They’re doing it again, just talking, and not hunting for me. Making dumb jokes at my expense, and gossiping about that Mrs. Razorscum. Who cares if she’s not looking for me, neither are you at the moment.

Yikes! I’m flying through the air! Hurray, someone found me. Thanks to Mr. Overholtzer. Now take me back to Gumpox, I have work to do with him.

PS: For the rest of the story behind this weird piece of work enjoy the podcast episode when you visit:

Vic and Sade – Mr. Gumpox Has Lost His Dentures. 440809.

The Lost and Found of Old Radio Programs

Lost and Found. That phrase conjures up memories for me dealing with the box of the same name that can be found in any school.

For almost all my school years, my dad was a custodian at the same school district where we lived and went to school ourselves. He started out working in the high school, but as his kids grew into the middle school years, he asked to be transferred to the elementary school in the town where we lived. On occasion, my mom would go to pick him up from work, and since we were fairly young, she would take us along, and we would sometimes get to hang out in the janitor’s office while we waited for his shift to end. That’s where the box of lost things was found. There was always an interesting collection of misfit items. Always a single sock, or glove, or shoe, never a matched set. There was never anything of real value, unless it was clearly broken and missing parts. Sometimes a jacket, or a shirt, or… don’t tell me those are somebody’s underpants… ew! It’s not the fact that they’re actually there. It’s most likely an innocent mistake, where they just fell out of someone’s gym bag, at least I hope that explains their presence.

Since this is a blog about old radio shows, it occurred to me to use that theme to filter a few aspects of the genre of that branch of media.

On a broad scale, the art of audio drama is largely a lost one. It’s not entirely dead, but far from being as popular as to market it on the radio as it once was. Unless a person is a history buff, or curious to learn where broadcast media got its start, I’m sure nobody thinks much about it. Even folks who are from that era, and heard the shows as they originally travelled from the studio, through the airwaves, and out the speakers of the radio in their living rooms don’t mention it much in conversation. They may reminisce about the political climate, or their favorite old musicians and songs. They may talk about historical events, or the shift in social issues, or styles and fashions. They may share about cars they drove, or toys they had before the era of electronic games, and social media on the Internet. Or maybe not. As part of assignments when I was in grade school, we studied the Great Depression. I decided to ask my grandparents since they lived through it. The short answer was, “The what? When did that happen?”

I was sure they were joking, how could they miss an entire decade from 1930 to 1940? “Oh, then. We were too poor, we didn’t notice,” was the response I got. My grandparents were all farm people, especially my mom’s people. “Those were the years that we worked the hardest. There was always work to do and not enough people around to do it all. There were animals to feed,” they began, but they were just getting wound up. “We had fields to plow and tend to, tractors to keep running, fences to mend, not to mention the chores around the house. We didn’t even have electricity or indoor plumbing until the mid-30’s” That does sound like a lot.

I asked, “What did the women do, grandma? How did you do laundry, and cook back then?” She continued, “We did all the same work as the men. Well, I never worked on the tractor, or did mechanical work, but I would put on overalls, and do all the other farm work”.

After a moment in memory she added, “We had a wood burning cook stove. The guys would stack up the cord wood, but the women had to keep the kindling cut up, and fed into it. Before we bought our first electric washing machine, it was a washer ringer; there were big round wash tubs we heated over an open fire. That was hot work….” she trailed off.

In our studies we learned about the fireside speeches of Franklin D Roosevelt, and our teacher even had a record or two that had old radio shows on them. One of them was an episode of ‘Red Rider,’ a cowboy show for kids, and who can still be seen on certain models of BB guns. Although kids today would be clueless that the cowboy image looking at them on the package of their BB gun, was once as well known to kids across the nation as Sponge Bob is today. I know I was clueless when I was a kid, and Scooby Doo was the latest, new hero across the nation.

Another recording was the radio report of the crash of the Hindenberg. There may have been more, but those are the ones I remember. I asked my grandparents about another historic moment in radio. “Did you hear the Orson Wells show of ‘The War of the Worlds’?? If you did, were you afraid the Martian invasion was real?”

They chuckled, and gave a simple, “No”. Did they even hear it? “Probably not… but that was a Sunday, and we were probably still at church. Besides, on a Sunday night, if we weren’t at church, we would probably have been listening to Jack Benny”. Years later I did some research. The date in question was October 30, 1938. They would have heard Jack Benny’s Halloween Party., with his cast joking their way through the party preparations.

I had totally forgotten about such things as radio dramas until a few years ago. I thought it was all lost to the ages. Shows were done live, broadcast, and gone into the ether after being enjoyed by the listening audience… right? I had heard the word, ‘transcription’ but never knew exactly what it meant. Little did I know about the practice of recording radio broadcasts? Fans, clubs, and even the military had been recording and preserving radio broadcasts for years. With the technology of the Internet, and the methods of sharing information we have with us today, discovering archives of these old recordings is like discovering buried treasure. Every time I learn about a show I had never heard of, it’s like finding a gold mine. With every episode I listen to, it’s another nugget, another story, another chance to stop and look at the date of when it originally aired. How old were my parents at the time, or were they even born yet? If the grandparents of then could meet the me of now, I’d be older than them for most of the old time radio era.

At first there’s a lot of jokes, and names of political figures that are strange, and out of context. There are references to other radio shows and actors that mean nothing. There are voices that seem familiar, but you can’t quite place where you’ve heard them. The more you listen, recognition creeps in. You may recognize voices of cartoon characters of the 1960’s or early 1970’s, and place them in the show you’re listening to. You pause to listen to the acting credits at the end of shows, and slowly learn names of some of the people behind some of the characters, and begin spotting their work from show to show. Granted, the audio quality is sometimes terrible, but most often it’s passable enough that it becomes more about the story telling.

Now that I’ve managed to discover this lost art of entertainment, the time and technology is ripe to share it with new generations. That, in a single sentence, is why I do my Retro Radio Podcast.

Gotta Have My Technology

I’ve been avoiding outright mentioning each day’s writing challenges that I’ve been doing. For those who’re taking part in it, you know what the assignment is. For those who aren’t part of it, I hope that whether you’ve figured it out or not, that you’ve at least been entertained.

For today’s installment… I don’t get the challenge. It has to do with writing in my own voice. Unless I’m intentionally trying to write fiction or expressing something in character… the voices are all mine. What am I supposed to do in writing in my own voice?? Write about something that is being taken away, and protest it. I suppose that could either be something real, or imagined. Life has a way of throwing some really crappy curveballs at you in life. I try not to hang on to anything very tightly. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21. Who am I to challenge God either?

The biggest thing that I would agonize over, short of the death of a loved one, is the loss of my laptop. By extension, that would also include my smart phone, and any other technology gadget. I sometimes joke about my pathetic life as a hermit, but taking away my technology tools would pretty make that a reality. You might as well hide the prosthetic limbs of an amputee, or take the hearing aids away from a deaf person.

I know, computers, and the things people typically do with them can get a bad reputation. Too much time wasted in gaming, surfing social media, visiting adult web sites, or a host of other time wasting activities. Other than occasional touching of base with Facebook, or Twitter, both of which are much easier for me to do on my phone than the laptop, I don’t do any of that. Did I mention in all these blog posts somewhere that I’m blind? Sure I did. You must’ve missed it. So here I am to tell you now. Believe it or not, computers are not only simple for blind people, but once you get past the small hurdle of the accessible software; they’re as invaluable as the aforementioned prosthetics that folks of other disabilities use. Technology devices are how I interact, and express myself. In fact, if you were to meet me in real life, I’d just be that guy over there in the corner, sitting quietly, not really talking to anybody. Eyes closed, relaxing… hey, he’s not asleep is he?

People ask what I do, and I answer, “I have a podcast, and I ‘m webmaster of a handful of web pages.” They usually don’t know what a podcast even is, and are only vaguely aware that there’s somebody who actually knows how to build the websites that they like to visit on the web. The conversation then falls flat. Sometimes ending with a patronizing comment, “I didn’t think blind people could even use a computer. That’s amazing”. Then I’ll go back to being the quiet guy in the corner, thinking about what to feature next on the podcast, or trying to mentally work the code on that page that I’ve been developing.

To take my technology away is to shut the door to nearly everyone I interact with on a daily basis. No podcasts to inform me, entertain me, or educate me. No online chats to interact with Internet peeps from across the globe. No feedback from listeners to my podcast to talk about something I got wrong about an old radio show, or something I got right about it. Though the hundred or more junk emails would disappear, it would cut me off of forums I participate in from issues of blindness, to Christian people, to disabled veterans, to various newsletters, and even notices to pay my electric bill. Don’t send me any paper mail to my snail mail box. It could take a while for me to find someone to read it to me… then I’d promptly forget it. No offense, but paper all looks the same to me.

I use my phone to read audio, or books in plain text, and my laptop to both read and take extensive notes about whatever crosses my mind. If I had a real, human type person reading all the stuff I consume everyday, they’d go hoarse with all the talking. My wife sometimes accuses me of not listening to her. She doesn’t realize that the computer voice in my earphones is often also competing with the chatter from a podcast, or music, and she’s just one more voice in the stream. Not to mention I may be in some intense concentration as I’m focusing on a long string of computer code, to get to the real important part where the buggy stuff is located. It’s always at the end of a line that is long enough to have the person in the room decide it’s a good time to repeat themselves just as the computer voice reaches that crucial spot.

There are times I do step away from it all. It makes for a nice change of pace to go either technology free, or at least on a reduced tether to it. I just like to be the one in charge of throwing away my prosthetic devices, and in charge of picking them up to hit the electronic pathways again.

Pay No Attention to the Generous Man Behind the Curtain

OK, I haven’t been reading much lately, but I was listening to an episode of Jack Benny lately. It seems that the most common thing thing that comes to mind when you ment8ion his name is that he was known for being stingy. There’s otther things that fans might shoot out to me, and in the particular episode, his blue eyes, and perpetual age of 39 were also mentioned. Stinginess ran through out the whole show though.

The word was never really mentioned, but it was the most prominent topic of the jokes. His use of a pay phone for his home phone, to charge his house guests for their phone calls. His advice to “whack the coin box” to get the last phone call coin returned to you indicates his skill at not having to spend money himself. The mention that his phone was upside down on the wall to poke fun at how frequently he battered his phone to get that coin out of it.

That’s all in the opening few minutes of the show, stinginess moves on to the form of a loan that one of the cast asks Jack Benny to borrow. Not just a few bucks, which Jack would’ve balked over loaning, and had enough comedy to milk for a laugh, but the sum of $500. For the kind of miser that Jack Benny was, it would be in his nature to even have problems with a loan for as small as a few cents, let alone, a few dollars. Keeping in mind factors of inflation, those few hundred dollars would be an amount easily into 4 figures in today’s money. The ridiculously high amount not only is enough to leave a miser like Jack Benny speechless, but it begs to know why in the world that much money is needed, but that’s a secret to be revealed later in the show. To me, the reason it was needed isn’t nearly as funny as the reason Bob Crosby can’t borrow money from his famous brother, or a fiasco regarding a loan from years ago.

The focus in the show drifts to an upcoming live stage show that was to take place, and a fictional need for Jack to audition tallent for it. There’s still a joke where the neighbors valet comes over to borrow a few items. For a new listener to the show, it may not seem like its that big of a deal, and the humor go over the head.

Old time comedians, especially of the Vaudeville era, learned that if something was funny once, and got a laugh, to keep on doing it. It could take a long time for a joke to make the rounds and be heard by a large population, and that one joke could be the anchor for a life long career. In the faster paced era of broadcast media, that one funny bit would be old news to the listening audience in a week. When comedians tried to milk a particular joke, or catch phrase, it was known to end careers. The people growing tired of it, but the comedian not knowing how to stop using it. Jack Benny saw that early on, and developed his onstage character in a way where he was always stingy, but the jokes about stinginess were limitless, and ranged from the obvious to the ones that were over the top. He could tell the same jokes, or actually the same topic of jokes, and it was never exactly the same.

With that in mind, getting back to the visiting valet, it’s part of a long time running gag that ties in to shows from earlier in the season, and in fact, from earlier seasons. Jacks next door neighbors, Ronald and Bonita Coleman, were always being visited by either Jack Benny, or his butler, Rochester to borrow any number of household items from cups of sugar, to Academy Award statues. Of course, the Colemans were frustrated and annoyed with Jack, but were too courteous to confront him about it. Today’s show is a rare moment when they send their butler over to borrow a few things back.

The fun in the show is all fiction. In real life, Jack Benny was far from stingy, and was actually very generous. His neighbors were never the Coleman’s, though they lived near by in his neighborhood. It’s all a matter of his ability to create characters, based on a little real personality, and stretch them to make the audience not clearly recogn9ize the blurry lines of truth and fiction crossed.