P.S. If you are near a radio, tune in on the Columbia network Saturday p.m., 7 o’clock and hear Byrd talk . . .
Ina Dobson to her son Vance, January 1934
Ina donned her green celluloid visor, turned the back of her old table radio to the light, and assessed the problem. She could see that some wires were loose, and undoubtedly if she soldered these, reception would be restored. She went to the back closet and retrieved the liquid solder from the shelf.
Radio reception in this remote corner of the world was anything but perfect, and this old secondhand set left much to be desired. Still, Ina was grateful to have come by it. Jack had no interest in fooling with it, but someone had to, so with son Earle’s help, Ina had learned the basics of how a radio works and was able to solder wires and perform basic diagnostics.
Ina was grateful when her efforts met with success and the radio was repaired. Sometimes a tube burned out, and then they would likely do without the radio for a time until cash showed up. Once during such a spell, Shirley had let slip to Ethel that the radio wasn’t working, and Ethel had organized a campaign amongst her siblings to raise the money. Soon Ina received dollar bills from Earle, Myrtle, and Ethel, and Vance actually sent a “fiver,” thereby enabling her to buy the needful.
Ina was not one to express enthusiasm openly, but to herself she admitted that being connected to the world through the radio was lovely. The radio opened her lonely life at Gilbert to the world of ideas. Turn it on, tune it in -- and it was more than she could wish for -- the news of the day, interviews with interesting people, political speeches, good music, comedy and drama. She found it expansive and intellectually stimulating in a way she had never experienced before.
Of course, you could also depend on the radio to deliver “drivel.” You could find it if you wanted it -- plenty of it. No, radio programming would never replace her love of reading, Ina mused. She would never trade literature for drivel. But, she watched for worthwhile programming -- kept up with the radio schedule as much as she could and made note of certain programs when they were announced, such as this talk by the great polar explorer, Richard E. Byrd.
It was nearly 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, January 1934. The little family – Jack, Ina, and daughter Shirley—had supped early, quickly finished the dishes, bathed, and were now settled at the radio to hear Byrd talk. Jack watched as Ina deftly searched the airwaves for the Columbia station out of Portland. It seemed to him that Ina barely turned the dial, but soon she had coaxed that Portland station from jumbled cacophony so that they could listen to Byrd talk about his exploration of the Antarctic, one of their favorite topics. KW
[The advertising is from the December 1936 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.]