Posted by: patwogan | October 5, 2008


This generation has its video games and other electronic miracles unheard of when I was younger.  I might add I love Wii and wish I had one.  The previous generation had television, movies, and DVDs to entertain them.  My generation had radio.  We also had movies, although they were quite expensive…twelve cents including excise tax for a Saturday afternoon matinee which usually was a double feature, cartoon, and a serial.  Believe it or not, we could only attend infrequently because of the cost.

We did have one form of free entertainment besides reading and that was radio.  I usually had to hurry home from school each day to listen to the stories on radio.  They were fifteen minute increments of stories of adventure and heroism.  Probably as important as the stories were the radio offers of merchandise.  The stories I remember were; “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy”, “Hop Harrigan”, “The Lone Ranger”, and “Little Orphan Annie”. 

 I remember Jack Armstrong would have a secret coded message at the end of the program and listeners needed a Secret-Decoder Ring to understand the message.  I sent off the box-tops from cereal, Wheaties, if I remember correctly ,and ten or twenty-five cents to get a Secret Decoder Ring.  I was very excited when I got it.  The secret code which I will reveal now for nothing was a substitution of z for a, y for b, and so on.  I was now able to de-code the secret message given at the end of each episode.  I do not remember what the messages were, but I know I was thrilled to be one of the “in” group who had a Secret Decoder Ring.

One of the merchandise offers from “Little Orphan Annie” that I sent off for was a mug.  Of course, Little Orphan Annie used the mug in the show and therefore made it desirable.  Little Orphan Annie was sponsored by Ovaltine.  I drank Ovaltine faithfully and sent in the required number of labels and money to get a Little Orphan Annie mug.  When I received the mug, I found it fascinating.  It was yellow and had a picture of Little Orphan Annie and her dog Sandy on it.  Little Orphan Annie was holding a mug that had a picture of Little Orphan Annie on it.  That mug she was holding had the same picture.  I used to try to see into it to see just how far the pictures went. 

I sat in front of the radio just as kids today sit in front of the television.  I probably was just as enthralled as my imagination used the sound effects to create mind pictures and “see” the action. 

Another form of entertainment for me was reading.  I loved to read and really got into it wholeheartedly.  If a book was good, I didn’t want to put it down until the end.  This probably got me into more trouble than anything else I did.  We had a big overstuffed chair and I would sit cross-wise in it and read.  My father more than once would tell me to “get your nose out of that book and do your chores”.  I would hurriedly do what had to be done and then return to my chair to read my book.  My kids know, but perhaps my Grandchildren do not know that I read Gone With the Wind in one week-end.  It was and may still be my favorite book.  I also had a set of the Wizard of Oz books.  There was a whole series of these books and my Mom’s Aunt in New York sent it to me.  I have tried to find out what happened to those books, but they were a victim of the divorce, I think. 

Another form of reading on a less esoteric plane were comic books.  My neighbor, Marvin Garner, had a large collection of comic books and I loved to go to his house to read them.  My favorite super-hero was Captain Marvel.  He said, “Shazam”, when he wanted to invoke his super powers.  There was a big lightning streak on the front of his red costume and he had a red cape.  On the back of the comic books were advertisements for merchandise.  One I remember was for a simulated diamond ring.  I didn’t know what the word simulated meant so the ring seemed to be a huge bargain.  My Mom would not let me order one.  I guess she didn’t know a bargain when she saw one.



  1. What a delightful story! I just got caught up on reading your blogs. Mr. Wii and I have been traveling. Nella

  2. Pat, just to let you know. You have inspired me to write my thoughts. I love your stories and I’ve decided to write whatever is on my mind. Kind of a brain download. I’d like to share my site with you:
    Thank you. Nella

  3. Oh you should get a Wii mom. You and dad would love it and I bet you’d use it a lot! Plus, you could have your friends over and you all could have tournaments 🙂

    The decoder ring story made me chuckle. Loved this blog enry!

  4. The Wii is way too much fun! However, did you read how my husband got the name: Mr. Wii Knee???? He hurt his knee bowling, of course he had a not so good knee anyway AND he had been playing for more than three hours with the grandson. Enough said. We won’t let him ruin it for the rest of us! It really is fun. Nella

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