Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trip Down Memory Lane

Since I was a kid I have enjoyed looking at the old radios as they glowed and had that warm sound. My first experience with these radios was while they still made tube radio’s which of course makes me feel a bit old but hey, in 1966 we got a TV, it wasn’t color but we got one! I actually have a set now that’s very similar to the set my parents bought and it even works! This is a 1957 RCA Victor, we bought it to watch old Twilight Zone’s and other old programs.


I for some reason don’t have a picture of the radio that sparked my interest in antique radios (on this computer anyway) but I found one that’s similar. It was the radio that my Grandmother had purchased in the late 50’s and I listened to radio shows known today as “Old Time Radio” but back then there were still shows being played live, soon after they all went off the air CBS would air shows on “Radio Mystery Theater” and so would WGN. This is the little radio I would huddle up to when we visited my Grandparents. Her radio was more of a tan color, but you get the idea.


When my Grandmother died the radio was lost so a few years back I went searching on eBay and found a bunch of them. I bought 6 of them and restored them as best I could and gave each family member one to remember Mormor (translated, mothers mother). Their faces lit up and they loved these little radios and they all still use them today. When my Mom died I received her radio and I’ll be holding onto that one until the day I die.

My first real antique radio came from a collection I purchased from a co-worker who had been let go at a company I worked for. They were letting people go because the company was for sale, anyway, his bad luck was my good luck. If I remember correctly I bought the entire collection for less than $100.00. Most of the radios were junk and this radio you see here was so filthy I almost said no to the deal, it was almost white with grime. Knowing it didn’t work didn’t help much either but I also figured he needed the money so I bought them. The radio is a Howard Model O or 0, not sure which because there is literally nothing about this radio anywhere. I have almost every guide and book about most all radios but this one gets no mention, so either it’s worth a lot, or not much. Who cares, we love it.


It turns out the radio is gorgeous! It took me the better part of a whole day cleaning the scum off and then polishing it up to what you see here. Original finish with just a few chips in the front. I have since had the electronics restored and it’s the one radio we will never get rid of. So for a few years this was all that was on display at our house, along with a few smaller radios.

In 2004 while on a trip to Minnesota we found a store dedicated to selling antique radio’s and radio memorabilia. we found this radio, a 1938 Zenith 12S267, expensive even in its day and ridiculous expensive today. We bought it, of course with every intention of keeping it forever.


Soon after I bought it I wanted to hear radio programs from the same era the radio was built. What to do? Build an AM radio station of course!



I figured while I was at it I might as well go AM and FM so I built an FM transmitter antenna to go with the FM transmitter, go big or go home right? I also built a computer and added a mixer so I could transmit from different sources, all at the legal limit. It looks different now but you get the gist.

RadioStationAntenna  RadioStationEquipment

So now I could hear music on either AM or FM and the entire house could pick up whatever old time radio I was broadcasting. I often set it up so it would broadcast for days, mixing in news broadcasts from the times and even WWII broadcasts. I was working from home more often then so I could enjoy it while working. Then I added a new hobby, HAM radio, as you can see I was busy. We drove to Dayton Ohio and on May 17th 2008 after studying all night, literally we headed over to the Dayton Hamvention and I passed the test that day.


As you can see my head was so filled with other things we completely forgot about camping and RV’s. Since my mother died Nov 29th 2009 my perspective on life has changed, actually, our perspective has changed, what was important to us before isn’t so much anymore. I was living to work instead of working to live and enjoying life. My hobbies were as I look back, selfish and didn’t include my wife even though she gave me her blessing. More so because she knows my mind, it’s doing 500 mph all the time, these hobbies helped. What they also did was take us further into debt, helping out family did as well, some things that can’t be said here did more damage but we are at where we are at and are now moving towards living life again and giving up some of the trappings that are keeping us hostage to the credit card companies and material things.

This may have been TMI for some people and that’s ok, that’s what the close window button is for right? For others it may explain my postings a bit, I tend to ramble, sometimes repeat subjects and maybe even sometimes whine a bit (stop agreeing with me!! Smile with tongue out) but as a buddy of mine says, I’m just Erik trying to be Erik (he says it with his Indian accent and a funny look on his face, gotta love him). Till next time…


Judy and Emma said...

So how are you going to fit all those 'keep til you die' radios in a rig? :)

Erik's RV Blog said...

Judy and Emma,

Good question! At the time we were clueless about RV'ing and totally wrapped up in other things. Some of the radio's will make it to family, some will be sold but there are two that we will keep. A Philco 16B and the Howard Model O. Neither would fit our current rig but the rig of our future will get them in some how some way!

Merikay said...

I have ONE old mantle clock that has been in the family for over 100 years. I rescued it in pieces from a box in a damp moldy basement many years ago. I restored the wood, removing layers of paint and rubbing it with paste wax for a finish.

In 1989 it was again damaged. We were going to toss it, but then my husband began looking at other mantle clocks and decided he liked mine the best.

We violated the antique in favor of having clock that kept time and had some parts replaced with new.

It is one of a very few things that will be stored in our daughters attic rather than commercial storage or gotten rid of.

Each possession has to be evaluated. There is nothing wrong with keeping something you love.

these radios are not replaceable. Times will get better!

Alan and Marilyn McMillan said...

I had my mother's cedar chest...for as long as I could remember, my mother had that cedar chest. It now sits proudly in my daughter's house and still has my mother's wedding dress and my wedding dress in it, plus other memorabilia.

Big Matt said...

Well done, Eric, it appears that we journeyed the same path from time to time, though I haven't been at it near as long.

I always pondered HAM radio, but the license costs and equipment costs kept me away and stuck with a rather basic CB radio (Cobra 19DXII) in the truck, which is once again not getting signal....

DeanO said...

Very cool stuff...I love classic electronics.

Sue and Doug said...

we all came from somewhere!..even if it was 'collecting old radios'..it is fun to learn a bit or sometimes alot about the writer behind the blog!!
have a good one, Erik!

Teri said...

I think we can all say "if I knew then, what I know now." No Regrets, just lessons and changes.

Mike McFall said...

NICE!!! I love old radio's, used to have a few, but seem to have passd them to someone that probably took them to the dump..
I was born in 1935, so i go back a few years on you,,,I remember my Folk's had a radio that took 2 batteries, it was a big one somewhat like the Zeineth you showed. We didn't have electricty way out on the Ranch at that time and the batteries (one was a "B" battery) were expensive, so we could only listen for a couple hours each night. I fondly remember listening to Fibber Magee and Molly....and even the Lone Ranger and Tonto, if I done ALL my chores!! Thanks for the fond memories...

Diana said...

Well I think this was a wonderful post Erik. It let us get to know you a little better. As I suspected, you are an interesting person!
I love the old radios, they really are quite beautiful. My husband listens to nothing but the old radio shows on Sirius. He also used to be into ham radio years before we met and also had his license.
As for the debt thing, we've been there and still are. Only ours are from medical bills. Surgery after surgeries. I think it will take us forever to get them paid down. And I don't want to have my knee replacements until they are all gone.
This post reminded me of my little transistor radio I had as a girl listening to WCFL and WLS. Remember those? Love Di ♥