I REMEMBER
Radio Days (with apologies to Woody Alan)
 JACK BENNY
Jack Benny, circa 1930s


Radio was the principal source of entertainment in my Barclay Street days back in the 1930s and 40s, closely followed by the movies, especially movies shown for a dime at the Westdale  Theatre in the "downtown" district of Westdale on Saturday afternoons. (We would cash-in pop bottles to pay the  admission fee, if we didn't sneak the back alley door.)  My favorite films starred Abbot and Costello and the British ukelele playing singer and comedian, George Formby.   I interviewed Formby for BBC years later in London.

old westdale
                      theatre
That's the Westdale Theatre on the left. It the last business surviving from my time, except for the barbershop, out-of- sight to the right (east). Mons Hardware , on the corner ahead, is a Tim Hortons.

And one mustn't forget the comic books, and the Sunday "funny" papers with their episodic story lines.  I remember remember reading the Sunday comics on the living room floor and rushing home from George R. Alan public school to hear "Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy , "Buck Rogers" and my all-time favorite, "The Lone Ranger". (It was said at the time that a test of a true intellectual was hear the William Tell Overture and NOT think of The Lone Ranger.)

A sad side note: Ralph and I were reading the Sunday comic pages on the living room floor when the telegraph arrived announcing my Uncle Earl's death in a plane crash at his RCMP base in Nova Scotia.)


cartoon
I spent hours as a kid drawing World War II airplanes.
     This the only one to survive.
Note the dog on s  leash. Ripper?

If at home, sick in bed, I'd listen to the 15 minute afternoon soap operas. My favorites (possibly because they seemed less mushy than the others) were "Ma Perkins" and the gently humorous "Loreza Jones and his wife Bell".

Popular evening radio shows with adults and kids were "The Great Gildersleeve", "The Shadow", "Inner Sanctom", Amos 'n Andy", "Fibber McGee and Molly", "Jack Benny" and "Charlie McCarthy". Most if not all these shows can be heard on YouTube.

Canadian favourites were "The Happy Gang" and "Hockey Night in Canada, both on CBC.  The voice of Foster Hewitt echoes through my adolescent years. 
I once shared an elevator with Hewitt in a CBC building on Yonge Street. He was short and dapper looking, as I remember.


cbc logo

My serious  interest in CBC radio began in the my  attic bedroom  at 139 Sterling Street in Hamilton, Ontario. I lived on Sterling Street with my mother and her second husband, Arthur Bedwell.  We moved to Sterling Street from a duplex flat on Dundurn Street North in Hamilton
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peter_goofy
This is from  a Ryerson Senior Public School picture just before we moved from Dundurn Street to139 Sterling Street. I call it my "Goofball" period. I was about 14.

As I said, it   was in that attic  room that I became a fan of CBC Radio, especially  CBC Radio News.  CBC news announcers with their deep, sonorous voices were my heroes. High on the list was Lamont Tilden and the greatest of greats, Earl Cameron. Here is Cameron announcing the D-Day landings inWorld War II.

Other great voices belonged to Alan McFee, deB Holly, Harry Mannis, Frank Herbert, Larry Palef and John O'Leary. But the greatest voice belonged to Cameron.  There were no women news readers until Jan Tennett  came along years later to break the glass ceiling .

Cameron read the flagship ten p.m newscast (the tv The National of it's day), McFee read the 1 pm newscast which was the big new program during the day.  McPhee was also popular as the sidekick to the radio character Rawhide, performed by Max Ferguson.  Ferguson was also a staff newsreader but not a very good one as I remember.  One of the characters he voiced was "Marvin Mellowbell", a parody of a deep-throated announcer favoured  by CBC at the time.

My first job with CBC was as a mail boy at the old CBC building at 364 Jarvis Street in Toronto.  I took this low-paying job ( $18.00 a week, paid in cash in an envelop) because I guessed  that if got inside the building in any capacity I was in a good position to get a better job, and that is exactly what happened.  In my rounds of building delivering mail I deliberately made myself known to the radio news editor-in-chief, Bill Hogg.  He liked me or I got him to like me, and when an opening came for copy boy in the newsroom he gave it to me.  I was on my way!

My job as a copy boy was to assist the editors in composing newscasts throughout the day and evening.  This meant shift work.  The main newscasts were at 8 am, 1 pm and 10 pm.  The Dominion Network of the CBC had its main newscast at 11 pm.  This went out to the private radio stations affiliated to the CBC.

We worked in a crowded  in the basement of 365 Jarvis Street, which the heart of CBC radio national programs at the time - drama, news and public affairs, schools, the lot!  The tv tower that transmitted the first television show was still under construction in the parking lot.

Here is a piece of trivia from my early newsroom days. As copy clerk one of my jobs was to create carbon copy blank sheets for the editors.  This was done by building a stack of writing paper, glue the spine of the pile, and when it dry insert carbon paper between each page.  Finally you would tear off 2 or more pages to create a carbon copy.

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