Friday, December 12, 2014

Sargent Santa

To paraphrase one of the characters in the Charlie Brown comic strip, "Oh, Good Grief". I never got last Saturday's radio show posted. At present, I can only keep the recordings of my show active in the service I'm using to stream them (here and on Facebook) for three weeks. Hopefully I'll have something better soon. My apologies.

This was a show that kept me on my toes. In order to produce one of these, I use records, CDs, and MP3s played on the station's iMac. (I used to tape record my 78's and play those too.) I also edit sequences out of old radio shows, and burn most of them to disc. For this show, the last 50 minutes were going to be played on the station's computer, and were in a file folder that turned out not to have copied properly to my flash drive. Luckily, I remembered how to get to an online library for radio show collectors, so I was able to deliver the 'featured' program (promoted on Facebook) of the Kraft Music Hall originally broadcast on December the 2nd, 1943. Hosted by Bing Crosby, the episode's guest was Ed Gardner from the "Duffy's Tavern" program.

The characters of 'Duffy's Tavern' (l to r) Miss Duffy, Eddie the Waiter, Clifford Finnegan, and Archie the manager.

The opening of Duffy's became one of those oft repeated phrases from what we now call "pop culture". (A tack piano begins to play "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling", a phone rings) "Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Duffy ain't here. Archie the manager speaking. Oh, hello Duffy..." Gardner played Archie, and co-created and co-wrote the show with Abe Burrows. Duffy's was a bit of a dive bar on an unfashionable stretch of the East Side of Manhattan. There were regular characters like the man crazy Miss Duffy (originally played by Gardner's wife, Shirley Booth), and a dimwitted barstool jockey named Clifford Finnegan. Abe Burrow's son James would later co-create a tv show about a bar in Boston where "everybody knows your name", which had regular characters including a man crazy waitress and a barstool jockey named Cliff.

As November gave way to December that year, a story appeared in the news that the "Big Three" were meeting. That meant Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States; Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain; and Premier Joseph Stalin of Russia were meeting, and there could only be one topic - they were planning the invasion of Nazi Europe. The United States had spent the two years which had passed since Pearl Harbor retooling its industries to produce tanks, planes, ships, and other devices of war. Millions of its men and women were either fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, bombing Germany, or waiting in England for the build up to finish and the invasion to begin.

Here in Brattleboro, for a few days in early December, Christmas advertising featured "Sargent Santa". There was a campaign to sell War Bonds. If you couldn't afford a bond, which would be repaid with interest in 10 years, you could buy War Stamps. Save enough Stamps and they became a Bond. Brattleboro's three movie theatres (they only had one screen each in those days) provided entertainment to weary patrons....

I hope anyone kind enough to listen enjoys the show, as well as the panic in my voice (accompanied by a sense of impending doom).

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