World War II

Pearl Harbor

... my contribution to the collective effort

by Joe Sullivan

Itís eight oíclock, or thereabouts, and Iím sitting in the family easy chair bundled up in a blanket. Right next to me is the mahogany-colored monstrosity, Fada brand, radio. A  little less than four feet tall, its only lighted part is a two-inch opening which allows you to see a dial imprinted with numbers.

In the daytime the numbered dial looks white but at night the little light inside the radio that illuminates the dial makes it look orange. Between the numbers are fine vertical lines that are supposed to allow you to finely adjust the tuning so the station youíre listening to will be clear. You do the tuning by twisting  a wood, one-inch knob thatís located just below the illuminated dial.

Thatís not the way I do it. Instead I put my head down next to the large fabric-covered opening that covers the speaker thatís located on the lower part of the radio. I snug my ear up to the fabric while I reach up and adjust the dial carefully until the static stops and the music and voices become clear. I can twist another dial to make the station louder or softer -- an adjustment thatís sure to be followed by my mother calling out from the kitchen where sheís reading the paper, ďThatís too loud, tune it down!Ē

I already did that before I started to listen to Jack Benny a half hour ago. Right now Edgar Bergen and Charley McCarthy are on, but I know it wonít be until the middle of the program before my favorite, Mortimer Snerd, will be included. I am eleven years old and I love Sunday nights. One hour of absolute hilarity before my mother will send me to bed. Maybe I can wheedle another half hour out of her but that usually happens only when sheís reading the Globe and forgets what time it is. Thereís really nothing any good to listen to then anyway so I really donít mind it when she comes in from the kitchen and says to me, ďShut it off.Ē and then points in the general direction of my bedroom.

That wonít happen until later so I use my time to saturate the programís sound thatís booming out of the Fada. I know that there are real people sitting watching Edgar and Charley while they do their show and I laugh right along with them when itís funny which is almost all the time. Iím really delighted when Mortimer Snerd comes on. Mortimer is right in the middle of saying something when everything stops. Thereís a pause, before a deep-voice guy says, ďWe interrupt this program to bring you an important announcement.Ē He starts talking about a place called Pearl Harbor and takes a lot of time saying whatís going on there with bombs and stuff and then goes away.

When Mortimer pops back on heís right in the middle of a sentence and I am exasperated to realize that Iíve missed a big chunk of what he said. I settle down as the program continues with the people still laughing loud at the funny stuff, but before you know it the same guy butts in to interrupt the program again. Five minutes later he comes back and does it a third time and now Iím really furious. Thereís hardly anything left to the program at all except for Edgar and Charley to say goodbye and that they will be back next week.

I know my mother must have come in to snap off the radio and boot me out; for sure, Iíd have never gone on my own. She probably dismissed my dark mood as my usual response to being sent to bed. As I storm to my room I fume to myself, ďHow could anybody interrupt anything so important?Ē

Iíd have a better idea why in the morning.

December 7, 2007



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