Turn the Radio On

Elsie - Youngstown, Ohio
Entered on February 18, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
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Turn the Radio On

My father’s life and his death taught me my belief in “doing it now.” One way my dad cared for people was to see that everyone had a radio. In good times and bad, he made sure that a radio was nearby. For that reason, the company of a bedside radio eased my hospital stay, at age 8. I remember being able to mimic my routine from home by listening to the Saturday morning children’s programs. One began with a rousing version of “Teddy Bear’s Picnic.” And on Sunday morning, there was “Tales of the Mahoning Valley” a locally produced retelling of the beginnings of our community.

The availability of transistor radios later on in the 50’s was a great help to my father’s ability to spread the “gospel” of radio. He saw to it that every room in our house had a radio, including the bathroom. While to third millennium folks that bathroom radio might seem unremarkable, most visitors who used our bathroom didn’t think so. I had lots of questions to answer from my friends.

When we were 19, when one of my friends was abruptly invited to leave her family home to live on her own (due to being in the way of mom’s new marriage), my dad’s first question was, “ Does she need a radio?”

Probably the most telling of his “gifts of sound” to others happened on the morning of the day he died. That June day began uncharacteristically, in that I was up and about before he left for work. As usual, my dad was dressed and awaiting the right time to leave. Promptness was another of his firmly held and practiced beliefs. We drifted to the front porch because it was already warm at 8:00. Our neighbor, a teenager, who’d often been in trouble at home and with the authorities, was to leave that day for “reform school”. He too was awake early and wandered over. My dad, upon realizing that Peter was facing a tough time said, “ Wait a minute!” and disappeared into the house to retrieve the current “bathroom transistor”, He returned and thrust it into Pete’s hands as an offering of companionship. Pete was moved, but he had no idea how to express it. All three of us had moist eyes, but the moment ended there with the honk of a social worker’s car horn. Within hours, my father lay dead of a heart attack on the street beside his job.

The ability to live out one’s beliefs whether they are momentous, global ideals or simple concern for others is admirable and ennobling to us all. It’s a wise and good person who acts on his knowledge and shares his gifts – while there is time – even if the package is as small as a transistor radio.