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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Lion killed my batteries

The Lion killed my batteries!!

Up until the age of 12 my exposure to music was whenever we traveled by car, and the radio was on, which was not very often.  My major exposure to music at that time was the family time (an hour or two almost every evening) we spent viewing variety shows on television immediately following dinner.  Other than the 33 rpm (revolutions per minute), and 45’s rpm records, the artists relied on public appearances, television variety shows and radio disc jockeys.  I make it sound like the whole family was addicted to television viewing, but I am talking about a time when television programing was still a novelty, and not everyone could afford it.  Even those that could afford it were limited by the amount of programming available.  I still remember when the waving American Flag would come on the screen to a patriotic song followed by test pattern, that was the way to say goodnight folks!  Goodnight could be as early as ten or eleven pm on a given night.

All of that change for me the very day I turned 12 years old.  My mother who loved me very much bought for my birthday gift a transistor radio from Western Auto.  That’s right Western Auto, the same place where two years later I would buy my first acoustic guitar, and three years later I would buy my 303 British hunting rifle.  In Small Town USA people’s lives revolved around two or three blocks of Main Street, and Western Auto was a permanent fixture, but that is material for another posting.
To put it in perspective what now seems trivial as gifts go, back then, it was like giving a 12 year old an iPhone.  I do remember the joy and excitement I felt when I opened the small package and saw the latest of electronic magic.  The radio came with a 9 volt battery, and head phones (ear buds), plus its very own leather case.  
Unfortunately the joy was temporarily short lived.  The only listening option in any small town was the local radio station, and I imagine that all small town radio stations had a "Teen Beat" radio program.  As you can see even then big businesses were placing there bets on the, young generations that would go on to drive the economy some day!!  Don't think for a moment that after getting the radio everything was peachy keen, the reception was sketchy at best, many radio stations of the time had what they call daylight operating licenses (broadcasting license from sunup to sundown only).
So when your local radio went off the air you had to find the next best reception you could get.  I was lucky to be some 30 miles away to from a couple of great options.  My very first night I went to bed with my transistor radio on to Teen Beat, and I loved it so much that even as I started to feel sleepy, I kept thinking one more song.  The very last song I remember hearing that night was The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  Next thing I knew it was time to get up and my battery was totally dead.  I felt such a great loss because I knew that it would be the weekend before I could go to Western Auto to buy a replacement battery.  And that is how the Lion killed my battery!  Stay tuned the best is yet to come....

1 comment:

  1. Love that song, and now knowing how the lion killed the battery. :) Had forgotten about my transistor radio. *My* music ended at 10 pm (station was down), and then in the southeastern corner of Arizona where I lived, my little transistor radio brought me KOMA Oklahoma City and Wolfman Jack. I would listen for hours. I think that's when I became a night owl. Good memories. Betina Martinez