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Swift recalls entertainment of yesteryear

When I was young entertainment was different than it is today. Folks would gather for an evening of singing. I’ll always remember the singing of the great hymns and gospel songs of that time. The soprano, tenor, bass and alto were blended into great harmony and often the lines were in shaped notes and they are rarely or never seen today. The ladies gathered for quilting parties where beautiful quilts were tediously stitched. Kids had their toys. Wooden blocks were popular for the very young. There were footballs, baseballs, etc for the older set. But, there were no electronic games. There was not even electric power for most families. We had a portable record player that played the 78-rpm records. That phonograph was powered by a wind-up spring that needed to be winded often. It looked like a suitcase and had a handle for carrying like a suitcase.
I was about six or seven years old when we got our first radio. That opened up a whole new world for our family. There were few or none of those marvelous machines in our neighborhood at that time. Because there was no electricity, our radio was powered by two large batteries. Later it was wired for only one. Our antenna was a wire strung between two posts. We could pull in stations from far away: KDKA Pittsburgh, WOR New York, WSM Nashville, WOWO Fort Wayne, Indiana, etc. KDKA was the first commercial radio station in the United States. On November 2, 1920, the station began broadcasting election results. Warren G. Harding was elected and served from 1921 until his death in 1923. It is interesting to note that generally radio call letters east of the Mississippi river start with a “W”. Those west of the Mississippi start with a “K”. KDKA is an exception. WEAF New York was the first commercial radio station to air advertisement. That commercial aired August 28, 1922.
Television was next. I was a teenager when we purchased our first television set as they were often called in those days. Some of the radio programs were also carried over to television. It is interesting to me that radio waves and television waves are from the same spectrum. Light is also the same kind of wave except for a vast difference in wavelength.
As I think of radio and television from the past, it is obvious to me that there is a great deal of difference in the entertainment that flows from TV and radio, as opposed to how it was in my early days. Many of the great comedians are gone. In my opinion, no one can replace Jack Benny, Bob Hope, George Burns and his wife Gracie Allen, Jackie Gleason and others. The subtle silence of Benny was hilarious. In one program, a mugger gave Benny a choice between his money or his life. Jack, who was billed as rather frugal, had to think about that. The great Bob Hope kept jokes coming in staccato fashion during his monologue. Gracie and George were very entertaining with Gracie providing the zaniness for the most part. George usually was the set up man but he was more than that. He was a very funny man in his own right. Jackie Gleason was a comedian, songwriter, orchestra conductor and actor. The multi-talented man had a variety show on television for a number of years. His show featured musical selections and a comedy section called “The Honeymooners” where he was often arguing with his wife, Alice, or his good friend Ed Norton played by Art Carney.
Those were the good old days.