Since I had to do another post in place of “Five Questions Friday,” I’m letting Eric write a post today. So the following is from Mr. Basketmaker himself:
This past weekend you may have read that we had a little fun pretending that we were “pickers.” It was a ton of fun and I hope we get a chance to do it again soon. I’m going to share a little bit about what took place after the pick and some of my old memories that came to surface.
In the early sixties, my grandparents built a dark brown cottage on a small lake north of their home in New Hampshire. It became known as simply “the camp.” They would make the hour drive up New Hampshire on summer weekends with my dad and his two brothers Denny and Steve. As time marched on and the grandchildren came along, the place during the summers became overrun with my cousins jumping in and out of the lake all day.
One of my most fond memories of the camp was an old wooden radio that sat on an end table in a corner adjacent to the living room. This space wasn’t large — it contained a few large chairs, one of them oak with green cushions, and two couches along with an old black wood stove that sat at the other end of the room. However, the small room did not feel so tiny because it was filled with lots of windows facing the lake and I remember spending many hours looking out at the water.
Everyday as the sun began to set, the people in the boats would slowly start making their way home. The small lake would become quiet, except for the sounds of the children at the boys camp across the lake. Their voices would carry over the open water as if they were speaking right next to you. We kids would be inside by now with the windows wide open. When dinner was over we would then settle into the cozy living room.
The evenings were limited to board games, a few channels on an old black and white television or listening to some tunes on the old wooden radio. Back then we didn’t have 150 HD channels, wireless internet, smart phones and other devices of distraction. For me, watching reruns of a fuzzy Lawrence Welk or Gun Smoke was not as entertaining as playing with that old wooden radio. I was twelve.
That old radio had glass vacuum tubes and my grandparents would always state, after they turned it on, that the radio needed time to “warm up.” I would watch the tubes start to glow and when it was ready, it would start to hum. If you put your hands on top of the radio you could feel the warmth. I spent good portions of many evenings turning the dial to see which stations I could tune in. Sometimes it would be a challenge to find a channel clear enough to listen to. That was my most favorite form of entertainment during those many hot summer evenings.
Back to today — when I happened across an old radio during our picking event at the Fryeburg Fair in Maine, I wanted it. After talking the dealer down to twenty dollars, the deal was sealed. He told me that he had the radio working. Being here at the fairgrounds in Maine there was obviously no way of proving that. The gentleman was older and wearing a Veteran baseball cap and my gut said he could be trusted. So, I bought it.
After the flea market we arrived at Eric and Karen’s, our wonderful hosts for the weekend. I couldn’t wait to plug in my new radio and turn it on. I kept thinking that it might catch on fire or something. After plugging it in and then turning it on, the dial area began to light up. Then I noticed the tubes began to glow. All was good so far and then nothing. I turned the dial from left to right. Nothing but a little humming. Did I just make a mistake buying this radio?
Later that day it was time for us to head home to Manchester, New Hampshire. During the two and a half hour drive I am thinking will that darn radio work. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I was out of the vehicle before my wife, carrying that radio inside. I couldn’t wait to plug it in and do some research! All I knew was that it was an Air King brand and most likely before the 1950′s.
First, I took off the cabinet of the radio. I was hoping to find a model number. Once the cabinet was off, I found a date on the frame of the radio, October 1937. Next, I took the tubes out and carefully cleaned everything up and then put it all back together. After cleaning the antenna connection and extending the wire to increase reception, I turned it on. I rotated the dial slowly and the first station that came in was a Manchester, New Hampshire oldies station.
It was playing the same music I remember from my youth at “the camp”. I decided to make dinner while continuing listening to great music of decades past. About the third or fourth song was Sinatra’s “Strangers in the night.”
Strangers in the night exchanging glances
Wandering in the night, what were the chances
We’d be sharing love before the night was through
Something in your eyes was so inviting
Something in your smile was so exciting
Something in my heart told me I must have you…
Then the dog started to bark out the window. Back to current time…