I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.
To get the great history of the transistor radio, let's read about the hisorical date of: December 23, 1947, The scientific brains at Bell Laboratories are credited for the solid-state amplifier included William Shockley, Walter Houser Brattain, and John Bardeen held a news conference on June 30, 1948, at which a prototype transistor radio was demonstrated. These guys need to be taken out to the best steak house in Kansas City.
So far. So exciting And at this juncture, it was arguably the most-exciting moment of mortal man. Just think. A small colorful box with accompanying leather strap with a speaker with zillions of holes just so teenagers could weld their ears into this box and before you could yell, ta,da, there came such a melodious collection of tunes that would chage anyone's meage life n nothing flat. Even the famous Air Force ace, experimental pilot, Gen. Chuck Yeager, couldn't have flew this fast. Then, as the P.A. announcer at Kentucky Derby races say, the race was on.
Progress is easily-compared to the termite because it doesn't take a lot of termites to do severe damage to a block or frame building, as the "head hunters" at Bell Laboratories found that their "baby," the transistor radio could operate just as good, maybe better by using less circuits, nts, and bolts. Go back when you were a teenager and see if all that I'm talking about is not right. I know. I owned a transistor radio. $45.00 tax included. It had an imitation-leather cover, plenty of holes so I could weld my ears into the speaker, but rats, no cute leather strap. I did have an earphone which was an added bonus because I could sit in my living room with my parents and while they watched TV, I could enjoy the likes of The Troggs; Beach Boys and Rolling Stones without making one move. You have to hand it to the dudes at Bell.
When the transistor radio hit the U.S. markets, it was like a squadron of the growling, grinning flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz dropped every radio of every color and shape to stores not as much to make the American consumer happy and to have more choice, but to enact a grand deception for the American teenager. Aww, this is not happy news. Never said it was. Well, I did in the beginning, but now we are in the home stretch.
Teen's everywhere began to chant the same cry to parents to buy me a transistor radio, mama or papa, because like is short and we will not be young forever, so how about it? Long chant given, but it got the point across.
Mayhem, I tell you! Mayhem similar to the huge cattle stampedes on Rawhide of reruns. Feet ran over feet. Hands stayed out of the way of these crazed teens lunging over each other to buy "their" personal transistor radio. Oh, there were a few incidents of people being bitten. The shelves were naked in record time. Stock analysts of that day said that they had never seen anything like it. And these stores with naked shelves only shouted for more radios ASAP! Yes, it was a hectic time in America, and a serious turning point for American teens and their young lives that were now the captives of a little demon the transistor radio.
Ah, all good inventions must have their climax. Well, that is way too harsh to tell you. The transistor radio met with a dramatic slow-down. But the little radio fought on by banding-together and putting forth their never say die attitude and surived for many years. Many of these finely-tuned inventions are stored-away in someone's dusty attic holed away in a cardboard box that once held prime bananas, now hold suit of clothes that the owner, who was a teenager once,
This guy, now in his early 50's, steals away when his lovely wife, "Edna," goes to get her hair done on every other Thursday, leaving this guy drowning in those special memories of his youth and the music that his transistor radio brought him.
Yes. "Dave Driscoll," assistant manager of a local Super Food Galaxy, hits his attack and sits back getting lost in a hit from "Wild Child," by Jim Morrison and The Doors, and others. But he also knows that that was over 3o years. And Morrison is still dead. But "Wild Child" only now on "Dave's" LP can be his surogate transistor radio. Whaetver works, eh?
But "Dave," older now, is a bit more mellow thanks to giving-up beef, realizes that even though he still loves his transistor radio to his dying day, there were a few snags along the way that accompanied owning a transistor radio.
Would you like to read a few?
⦁ It's tough taking your transistor radio to church because there is no place on your person where you can find the radio and soon, the preacher scolds the owner of the radio, but he sticks to his guns and yells, transistor radio power forever!
⦁ The ears of the teens could not actually weld themselves into the speakers of their transistor radio, but God love them, they tried.
⦁ When transistor radios first hit the Teen World, a lot of the guys out to prove their bravado, held their radios with that cute leather strap and then took many butt whippings.
⦁ More than a few teens came to a sudden bodily injury by foolish trying to put the leathter strap around their neck while they tried to take a shower. A very stupid idea for sure.
But this last item is probably without argument, the sole reason why the transistor radio became so popular: love. That's right. That's cool. Peace is the word (Franki Valli), love. That one lone word, along with the transistor radio almost helped the American teenagers to rule our nation.
If a guy owned a transistor radio, he had the keys to the kingdom. He did not have to act cool or splurge hundreds of dollars on cheap gifts for that girlfriend wannabe, no. The guy let it slip that he owned a radio and then magic happened. She would call the guy and tried to make it look random, just to get the guy to hold his radio to the phone so she could hear Rock Music over his very own radio. This is the secret revealed, my friends.
This never worked with me. The girls whom called wanted to borrow my radio. So much for moonbeam memories and looking back.
June 18, 2021_____________________________________________________
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© 2021 Kenneth Avery
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on June 20, 2021:
Thanks for this memory I loved my transistor radio. I grew up in the north but we were very poor, so I bought it myself and I took care of it like it was gold.
Kenneth Avery (author) from Hamilton, Alabama on June 19, 2021:
Thanks my friend. Now I feel like crying.
John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 19, 2021:
I always loved my transistor radios, Kenneth. I still have a pocket size digital radio. Back in the day the biggest problem was having to keep buying batteries. No USB plugins back then. Now with smartphones doing everything including playing music there is not much demand for the humble radio. Nice article.