Who Turned Up the Volume

Volume KnobYou can’t find the dial, but someone  turned up the volume.

Everything and everyone is moving faster.  There’s a sense of hectic anticipation.  ‘The Season’ is here and last minute preparations are the name of the game.

That doesn’t mean that routine stuff is getting done.  And for a long-term-plan worker like me that’s a big snag in the works.  When we have staff and volunteers on the ground and garbage doesn’t get picked up and restrooms don’t get cleaned it just ticks me off.  I’ve done the work myself, I know it’s not pleasant but it needs doing and I get angry when it doesn’t.


They may not have been very good about sound quality but these old radios used to be one’s only real contact with the OUTSIDE world. And there was a certain nostalgia about gathering around the radio.

If I am completely honest with myself, I suspect that next three months of being in the ‘season’ will have more impact on how long we stay here than anything else.    I haven’t minded dealing with volunteers thus far, but whining and whinging and complaining when there is work to be done doesn’t cut it with me.

One volunteer refuses to clean bathrooms, another doesn’t ‘know how’ (but claims to have been in the military and I KNOW they teach it),  “What do you do when…” is the favorite question of late and the curmudgeon and recluse and generally cranky guy in me is wanting to exercise his muscles and shout out something, anything, at the top of his lungs.

Take a deep breath…..


That’s better.


When I was young we had a radio like this one to the left. It had been my grandfather’s until he bought a newer radio and I asked if I could have it.

When I was in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade we lived in Wauwatosa WI.   My uncle owned an 18 family apartment there and my dad, being a boiler operator for Wisconsin Electric, was a perfect solution when my uncle needed a low pressure boiler operator for the building.  We were just selling off our hardware store — J.P.’s Lakeside Hardware and it came as a perfect life-saving solution for our family who had sold off the hardware store because it was failing after the advent of chains like Ace and True Value.

The “Super’s” apartment wasn’t intended as an apartment for a superintendent with a family.  It had a single bedroom, a small living room, a kitchen, and something that imitated as a living room.  But nary a place for a young boy; a young rambunctious boy.

Martha Washington Drive / WauwatosaEven as a young guy – I guess I was 7 or 8 at the time – I had all sorts of ideas.  My idea de jour was that I should have my own apartment.  Not a real one, mind you, but a faux apartment.  And I had the perfect solution.

The ‘C’ shaped building had a long basement hallway.  On both sides of the hallway there were laundry rooms and rooms that had three or four chicken-wire storage lockers.  My brainstorm was simple.  My parents could live in the Superintendents apartment and I could live down the hall (all I really meant was to SLEEP down the hall).  The room I had in mind wasn’t far — perhaps 30 feet from the doorway to our apartment.  I wasn’t frightened.  And it wasn’t hard to arrange with our longterm older tenants who rarely used their storage lockers at all to have them access their storage during normal daylight hours when I would not be sleeping there.  My parents found a skeleton key for the old mortice lock and I moved in.

The radio was my prize.  My parents found a bunk bed — why only one boy needed a bunkbed I’ll never know — but the floor model radio was tall enough that the dials and knobs fit between the headboard of the lower bunk and the bottom of the upper bunk.  I put the radio against the wall, the bed against the radio and I was set.

A special treat for a young boy was that the radio was a three band radio.  I could listen to regular AM radio,  shortwave or FM radio! Many a night I would play with the tuner for hours instead of going to sleep.

As I got a little older I discovered Chicago Talk Radio.  I started listening  Studs Terkel on WFMT.   Terkel had begun broadcasting on WFMT in 1953 and I, as young as I was, was an early aficionado.  In later years I ‘graduated’ to Milt Rosenberg on WGN — mostly because I could hear the Clear Channel station when I was traveling around the country.  I’m not sure that Clear Channel radio does much nowadays — there are so many radio stations on the air that they get ‘stepped on’ by other nearby frequencies. And who listens to radio anyway.  And there aren’t programs of the same quality as those anyway.   During my trucking years Milt Rosenberg was my drive-along companion many-a-night.

It’s not surprising that I still love radio.  But finding the programming isn’t as easy as it used to be.  And at least you can turn down the volume on the radio.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “Who Turned Up the Volume

    1. Linda,

      I listened to my share of Lone Ranger too — but my grandmother KNEW the Lone Ranger. She and gramps lived in Chicago but had friends on LA. They made a trip out there one year — must’ve been 50’s in there somewhere — I have no idea I’m time challenged — but she came back with all sorts of stories — not all of which I believed even then.

      I wonder, is it a sin not to believe your grand mother? I never now which of her stories were real…

      Anyway… I’m sure my mom would have been happier if I had confined myself to listening to radio drama. I know I freaked her out because I never brought home fiction from the library when I was young… I was always bringing home non-fiction and how-to’s and such. Poor mom. She was proud of me, but I never fit into the mold she thought I was supposed to grow into.

      Hi Oh Silver!!!!! and away….



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