CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bakelite and Hot Pink

 For 50 cents at a rummage sale , I got my first radio. It was a leftover from the 1940's that had probably broadcast many a war report , serial and the official time at least twenty years before I came across it on a table at the Anglican Church Hall in Mattawa.

Mine was even plainer than the one in the photo. No red dials and gold accents . Just a simple , no nonsense Bakelite tube radio to fulfil a function- not serve as an artistic statement .

I had heard classmates at school talking of the new transistor radios that were out. A modern invention that got rid of tubes in favour of small transistors thus reducing size to smaller than a box of Jumbo the Elephant Pink Popcorn. Even more amazing was the introduction of batteries that allowed you to walk away from the wall plug to another room and even outside . I was truly dumbfounded..." Kids had their own radios!"

They were listening to music out of such exotic places as  Toronto and American stations from Detroit , New York and Buffalo . Our radio was only tuned to CBC , occasionally straying to the Saturday afternoon local programming from forty miles west in North Bay . "Kids had their own radios!"

When I saw that old , dusty brown radio on the odds and ends table , I virtually jumped onto it , grabbing it to myself before anyone could snatch up the treasure. Mum had given us each a dollar to spend ...and fifty cents was going to buy me a radio...my very own ...just like other kids had .

The other 50 cents bought a pair of ladies lounging pyjamas , three sizes too large for me . With shoulder pads and palazzo style pants . In a colour I had never seen except in Barry Walter's box of 24 Crayola Coloured Pencils - somewhere between fuscia and flamingo. Hot Pink . I imagined myself laying in my luxurious lounge wear listening to the most current music that all the kids my age were absorbing by the minute . My mother bit her tongue and let her twelve year old daughter cart her extravagance home .

In the room I shared with my sister , I plugged in the radio. I could hardly wait for the tubes to warm up so I could find a station and start catching up with other kids. The smell of hot tubes burning off years of dust did not deter me from searching...and searching...and searching for the magic spot on the dial . After a half-hour , I gave up . CBC and North Bay were the only stations coming in . My heart fell.

Later that night before I climbed into bed , I tried the radio again . From the clouds of static , Chum Radio emerged . Petula Clark was singing her current hit . " Downtown , where all the lights are bright...". I was connected . Through a song that made me venture beyond my isolation into a new and exciting world . Sprawled on the floor , basking in the light of glowing tubes inside that radio , wearing some very chic , hot pink pyjamas , my life changed .

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