by Andy Mitchell
I grew up in the age of television … and as a child I was sick much of the time. Home with a temperature of a hundred and two, fighting long bouts of asthma, I found solace watching “Leave It To Beaver,” “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Lone Ranger.”
Believe it or not, I didn’t care for reading as a kid. The hurry-hurry-hurry-through-the-story-and-answer-all-the-questions-as-fast-as-you-can method they taught in grade school didn’t foster an interest in reading. In fact, I was left despising it. (Go figure.) It wasn’t until years later that I came to love reading on my own terms.
In spite of this, I always loved books, the feel of them in my hand, the notion that what they held inside was an entire alternative world to the one I walked around in, the one with school and swim lessons and all the other realities I daily feared and faced.
My parents grew up listening to the radio. In today’s age of garish giant screens in every living room and restaurant across this great land of ours, it’s hard to imagine a family huddled together around a hardwood box with a dial rapt by the voices speaking from within, telling them amusing tales as well as real life stories of the war in Europe. In fact, in today’s age, it’s hard to imagine anyone needing to imagine anything at all. Everything big and small is told and shown constantly everywhere all the time. Even in the “boutique” urban hotel where Jenn and I recently spent a weekend, the lobby bar – where we paid more than the cost of our room for a couple of gins – featured ginormous flat screen TVs with nonstop disturbing images. Why is this considered necessary, even acceptable? I don’t get it.
Call me “old school.” To this day I prefer listening to sporting events on the radio. Watching them on TV leaves nothing to the imagination. Just hearing Pat Hughes (sportscaster for the Chicago Cubs) say the word, “ivy,” is somehow more magical than seeing the stuff fluttering on the outfield wall in a Northside wind. Radio is akin to reading in this regard. Jenn and I dropped our cable subscription a long time ago. Television is just too strident for my tastes. Maybe I grew up in the wrong era.
I’ll leave you with a poem that harkens back to simpler days, radio days.
Cutting down Beecher
Passed my grandparents’ old home
I notice the swing on the front porch
Is no longer there.
A vision of an old man with a Roman nose
Comes to me. He’s listening
To the game on the radio
Swaying slowly to the rhythm
Lou Brock steals second
While Jack Buck sings on the airwaves.
Beads of sweat are forming
On Grandpa’s brow
As Gibson winds-up, clouds rumbling in the distance…